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‘Walking Dead’ finale breaks rating records with 6 million viewers, 4 mil 18-49

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), Sophia (Madison Lintz), Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Carol (Melissa McBride) celebrate (briefly) during Episode 6.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), Sophia (Madison Lintz), Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Carol (Melissa McBride) celebrate (briefly) during Episode 6.

“The Walking Dead” season one finale drew plenty of live bodies: 6 million to be exact. That’s a record for AMC.

The four million 18 to 49 year olds are the most for a basic cable drama series. (NFL games on ESPN and “The Sopranos” on pay cable have exceeded that number.)

Over six episodes, the show averaged more than 5 million viewers and 3.5 million 18-to-49 year olds. It’s a bonafide hit any way you look at it.

Including the two repeat episodes last night, the show drew 8.1 million viewers.

It is by far the most popular of  shows shooting in Atlanta. The other big ones: “The Vampire Diaries” draw 3.5 million viewers a week on the CW. Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” brings in 2.5 to 3 million viewers a week. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is averaging close to 3 million viewer a week for Bravo.

SPOILER ALERT FOR FOLKS WHO HAVE YET TO SEE THE FINALE: Wow! You’ll never see the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre quite the same anymore, eh? Kaboom!

No wonder Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich), the last man standing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wanted to die. The energy that fueled the place and protected him from the zombies was about to go for good. And it was touching that the only reason why he didn’t quit was because his much smarter scientist of a wife had gotten bitten and had asked him to try to figure it out. Sadly, his experiment in which he watched her die, then come back as a zombie, did absolutely nothing to explain why zombification happens or if there is any way to stop it.

In other words, the survivors came and found a dead end (literally) in a place that should have provided more hope.

And leader Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was grappling with that fragile thing called hope. While drunk, he pondered his own doubts and why he was keeping everyone else’s spirits up. Fortunately, once sober, he decided it was worth leaving the building and try to live on for the sake of humanity. And alas, they escaped just as the place exploded – an automatic move by the CDC since it is home to many a deadly virus (ironically).

In reality, I do find it hard to believe not more scientists would have stuck it out until the end, even if it was a metaphorical sinking Titanic.

Episode-6-Jenner-Rick-760

And future plot points to be pondered: what’s up with Merle, the racist dude who escaped the roof after cutting off his hand, “127 Hours” style. What did Jenner whisper to Rick just before he left the building? (left) Plus, when will Rick find out about Shane and Lori?

I also decided to ask a CDC spokeswoman what she thought of the finale. She laughed. “I want to know where that wine came from!” she said. More seriously, she said, “These folks didn’t consult us at all. This was an entirely fictionalized depiction for dramatic license purposes.” She said there is no set up at the CDC to blow up in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Tom Rowland, director of marketing and sponsorship at the Cobb Energy Centre, missed the big explosion.  “I’m three episodes behind on my DVR,” he said. But he did know one thing: “They will not be back here filming for season two.”

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

11 comments Add your comment

Atlantaphotog

December 6th, 2010
11:34 pm

I enjoyed the first episode of the show, but they started to lose me by the end of episode 2. From what I hear, they have different directors for each episode and that’s started to create some wildly varied things in each segment. In episode 1 for the most part, the zombies were “classic”, slow-moving zombie things that you skirted around to avoid. By episode 2, these things could run, climb fences, pick up rocks to break storefronts in, and “smell” the blood of the living. Really? I can barely climb a fence as I am – I can only wonder how easy that is once your legs have decomposed for a few months (roll eyes). I was expecting Woody Harrelson to step in at any moment.

I’m glad it’s another movie doing business with the local economy, but they went from seriously interesting to seriously hokey in just two episodes. It might have turned out ok if they stuck with the original plan of making it a mini-series, but whole seasons of this plot? I don’t get it. More power to them, but unless it ramps up and gets back to “zombie basics” really soon, I won’t be wasting valuable DVR space on any more episodes.

Tim

December 7th, 2010
4:46 am

@ Atlantaphotog

So you just watched two episodes and that’s it? I think the thing that got me about the series (and, yeah, I watched all of it on Amazon’s subscription service) is that the focus is less on the zombie and more on the survivor and the story. The horror genre has for too long gotten away with replacing story and character development with more and more buckets of gore and blood. I like a good slasher flick every once in a while but give me a story and characters I can give a flip about, and I’m hooked.

And for the record, you make an excellent point about the fence climbing and running, but is it too far fetched to imagine a zombie using a rock ona window? I would think that could be argued as instict. And smelling blood? How do you think zombies don’t go attacking other zombies and only the living? The thing is with a mythical creature YOU DON’T KNOW so the writers can expand on the legend. I for one thought it was an interesting idea.

What is amazing is that so many others believe in story, plot, charcters, and zombies making the series as evidenced by the large number of viewers. As mentioned before I was only able to watch on Amazon’s subscription service. I’d be curious to find out how many more people caught it through that. Another 13 epidoes are already scheduled. I can’t wait.

and Atlantaphotog, I bet there’s another Saw movie coming out soon. You can get ready for that.

Nancyg

December 7th, 2010
7:12 am

I enjoyed this season, tuned in every Sunday night. I must admit after the 4th episode I wanted to know how did this happen. But now I want to know if the “Sheriff” is “walking dead” what did the Dr. whisper to him??? I can’t wait for the next season…..

Braves33

December 7th, 2010
8:07 am

first let me say I just love the show and the fact that it takes place in the ATL. If it was me running away from the zombies I would go to Lake Lanier and get a boat and park it in the middle of the lake where the zombies can not get to me. Zmbies can not swim can they?

Atlantaphotog

December 7th, 2010
9:46 am

Tim, No, I did not “just watch two episodes”. As I said in the first sentence, “THEY STARTED TO LOSE ME BY THE END OF EPISODE 2″. I still continue (for now) to record each show on my DVR, but more and more find myself using the fast-foward function of it with each installment, and I haven’t found any of them to be as well done as the first episode.

trystme

December 7th, 2010
10:29 am

I love this show! And I love seeing parts of Atlanta!

Angie

December 7th, 2010
12:29 pm

What was the whisper? My hubby figured it out…remember the blood tests? Found out Laurie was pregnant with…wait for it…. deputy baby. A little added drama to hungry zombies. I was really surprised at how much I liked the show. I tuned in like a lot of people to see some of my fellow actors doing the zombie thing and to see the Atlanta shots but got caught up in it. I hope they continue to film around Atlanta to give some of the locals some work.

John

December 7th, 2010
1:51 pm

TV shows tend to have different directors for every episode, it’s how it works. The new director has to be prepping the next episode while the other director is still filming. Some shows have a director who stays on and does every other episode, it just depends. It also takes a little time for the characters to gel. The writers are also only writing an episode at a time, and are constantly changing, tweaking and reinventing the story as it goes. Again this goes for most any TV show.

It’s nice that it’s not a night only Zombie show, and I’m sure the crew likes that as well. Something about the Zombies being out in the day makes it a little more interesting and fun to see the makeup work. I think the doctor told him something about his wife, maybe that she’s pregnant, maybe with other dudes baby! Now there’s some second season trouble!

kelly&carriefan

December 7th, 2010
2:03 pm

I’m hooked on this show, and didn’t think that would happen. I, too, am wondering why this happened and if they are any other survivors…? I did love the “local” feel, but laughed at some of the choices. Cobb Energy Centre blowing up was funny. Lori pregnant? Oh, boy. I am now wondering if Rick is really alive….hmm. Do we know how closely the series will follow the original comic books?

Bill (From Iselin, NJ)

December 10th, 2010
2:43 pm

Excellent Show/Series (so far during 2010)! A co-worker of mine talk about scene’s and episodes just about every week. One of the most surpising things about it is this show actually has a story and shows how people can come together regardless who/what you do an help one another. I think the make-up and costumes on the zombie’s is OUTSTANDING. I really look forward to next year. I feel Oct. 2011 is a little long to wait but, I guess we have no choice. Good Job AMC! Keep it coming!

Tyrone Biggums

December 10th, 2010
4:21 pm

Great show, no wonder it’s getting big ratings. Horror TV shows are very rare, since “Tales from the Crypt”.