"The Walking Dead"
Season 5, Episode 1: 9 p.m. October 12, 2014
Where: AMC

Gene Page / AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, left, and Chad Coleman as Tyreese in Episode 1 of Season 5 of "The Walking Dead," which begins on October 12, 2014.
Why we like to watch
'The Walking Dead'
Season 5 starts tonight, and we'll be tuned in
October 12, 2014

On Saturday night, while working on this and that, I had a TV tuned into AMC for a marathon of Season 4 episodes of "The Walking Dead."

Season 5 starts tonight — at long last! — and Season 6 has been ordered.

There was a little scene I saw on Saturday that helps me make a point about why I like this wild, crazy fantasy show about a zombie apocalypse.

It's from early in Season 4, when Rick Grimes, who used to be a sheriff, then became a do-anything survivalist to save his family, then apparently had a breakdown after his pregnant wife gave birth then was eaten by a zombie, is now a kind of a brain-scrambled farmer who doesn't want to do violence anymore.

Andrew Lincoln, a Brit playing an American Southerner, is great in the role.

Chandler Riggs, also great, plays his son, Carl, who doesn't want to follow in farmer Rick's footsteps. He knows more violence is exactly what's needed, and he wants to be ready for it.

After Carl says his little bit, he throws down the deputy's star his father had given him.

Because the symbolism is, hey, dad, the old law is gone. We have to make our own law now, because we want to survive, and your farmer Rick thing just ain't cutting it.

A nice little bit of writing. And direction. And acting, in a show that has commanded attention because of the excellence of its writing, acting and direction. And special effects.

A small bit, but one worth noting. The show has lots of them.

Season 4 also had a much more involved and impressive bits of writing.

Gene Page / AMC
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol, left, and Brighton Sharbino as Lizzie in Episode 14 of Season 4 of "The Walking Dead."

One admirable story line, that evolved over the season, featured Melissa McBride as Carol, and Brighton Sharbino as Lizzie. Carol had been thrown out of the group by Rick for having killed some sick humans who maybe might have survived and not become zombies. But after a major disaster, Carol, who'd been out on her own. hooks up again with some of the group's children, including Lizzie.

And Lizzie, all of about 11 years old, turns out to have killed someone in the group, thinking she is helping.

It's not enough you have rotted zombies wandering around trying to eat you, you gotta deal with a child psychopath as well?

The culmination of that storyline is a very impressive piece of writing, acting and direction. Amazing stuff.

And it's part of the reason why I will be tuned in tonight at 9 p.m. PST to watch the opening of Season 5.

Season 4 had its dull and unappealing moments. Too much walking along railroad lines. And who could buy this guy in a mullet as a scientist who maybe knows how to save humanity from the zombies?

But, ya know, ya just remember it's all based on a comic book, and recognize that some of it is going to work, and some of it ... won't. That's OK.

At the end of Season 4, Rick and most of his crew had been captured and locked in a boxcar by people who seemed to have a good supply of fresh meat for barbecuing.

Indications are good that the captors are cannibals. And things are looking grim, indeed, for Rick's group, which is our group. But, as Rick says, "They're screwin' with the wrong people."

I haven't seen much from Season 5 yet, but I know people who have, and the word is, the gore level, already pretty gory, will increase.

That's OK, if the fine writing, direction and acting continue, and I'll bet they will.

Email John Orr at

Frank Ockenfels 3 / AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, left, and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, in a scene from Season 5 of "The Walking Dead."