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The Walking Dead

AMC, Oct. 14, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

The rhythm of the zombie genre is essentially fixed: long stretches of stagnant dread broken by eruptions of gore. It’s like being in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and every so often a few cars around you explode. This can get oppressive, but AMC’s Walking Dead, now starting season 3, has managed to work fresh morsels into television’s grimmest stew. As the band of human survivalists secure what was once a prison and destroy its now-zombie inmates, we know that (1) the living are already infected with the “walker” virus-even if you die in plush comfort at the Four Seasons, you’ll check out a cannibalistic grazer; (2) an apocalypse should work like Gorilla Glue on a couple that’s drifting apart, but no: Group leader Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is still struggling to get over the fact that his pregnant wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) slept with his now-dead best friend; (3) the humans are being spied on by other survivors. These strains are almost enough to distract you from the special effects, which have gotten grosser: Gallagher with human organs.

Emily Owens, M.D.

CW, Oct. 16, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

Mamie Gummer is an interesting young actress: She can seem wonderfully spontaneous yet extravagantly mannered. At the least, she’s distinctive enough to deserve her own show-even this Junior Mints Grey’s Anatomy-after memorable turns on The Good Wife and the ABC flop Off the Map. Emily is an intern at a Denver hospital, where her medical talents seem exceptional and her social skills subpar. One minute Emily is unintentionally revealing her crush on another intern, and then the next minute-well, she’s doing it again, and then again, all the while stammering and blushing and ducking her head. It’s like watching someone try to flirt while stuck in a revolving door. But Gummer has a whirring charm that never settles for mere adorkability.

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