Originally posted on Variety:
The casualty count on “The Walking Dead” remains high — and that’s just its showrunners. Scott M. Gimple is the latest to step into the breach, after Glen Mazzara supplanted Frank Darabont — who developed the show — and guided it to become TV’s highest-rated hour in key demos. The new season’s first two episodes move much more assuredly than the zombies who populate the program, reflecting minor stylistic changes, perhaps — with a higher horror/splatter quotient, as if someone got that memo — but nothing that threatens to prevent fans of AMC’s blood-soaked gravy train from dutifully answering the dinner bell.
If ratcheting up the horror and gore seems like a no-brainer, it’s worth noting “Walking Dead” is one of those series that lure guys in with exploding heads and entrails, before getting them hooked on the characters and relationships. The adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels — which regularly departs from the source —has also been particularly bold in shedding key players, adding a welcome uncertainty to the proceedings, while deftly reloading with strong new talent.
As viewers of season three will remember, Rick (Andrew Lincoln, recovering from that unfortunate loony-bin subplot) has inherited a lot of survivors from the town overseen by the Governor, creating a vast community within the prison where the core group had taken refuge from the “walkers” lurking outside. The addition of all those new faces, however, has introduced an element that almost feels like the old “Star Trek,” with the newcomers mirroring the red-shirted crewmen who beamed down to the planet but seldom beamed back up.