TV tonight: Return of The Walking Dead; Downton Abbey, and the Grammys

It’s here: The mid-season return of The Walking Dead.

Photo: AMC/The Walking Dead

WASHINGTON, February 10, 2013 —Tonight, The Walking Dead returns to the AMC lineup. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate. But add the Grammys, Shameless, House of Lies and Downton Abbey to the mix and we have a genuine viewer’s conundrum. (Tivo, anyone?) That said, when the ratings are compiled and released Monday morning, I’m betting The Walking Dead will win the night.

The Grammys have an incredible line-up of performers and Downton Abbey is a worldwide viewership phenomenon, but The Walking Dead is setting ratings records that almost defy comprehension. This post-apocalyptic, zombie killing drama has made TV history as the first cable series ever to pull in the highest ratings for the Fall broadcast season among the adult age 18-49 demographic. To be clear, that means it beat everyone everywhere, including the five major networks. All in all, 15.2 million people tuned in to watch the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. Not too shabby for basic cable.

I’ll have to skip Shameless to watch The Walking Dead. But not watching Matt Damon on House of Lies is a sacrifice I cannot make, not even for a Grammy performance by Elton John. Tonight on House of Lies, Damon hires the team to clean up his image, an unnecessary task that makes the storyline even more compelling in its absurdity. Few shows are more absurd or entertaining than House of Lies, so having an Oscar winner like Matt Damon as a guest on the show simply has too much potential to take for granted.

Tonight’s viewing choices are so varied and excellent that I find myself thankful for reruns, if only briefly. There will be a night in the not-too-distant future that I curse their very existence, but not this night. So join with me, take a break, and steel yourself for the coming workweek by luxuriating, either live, via DVR, or both, in what’s probably the best night of TV thus far this year.

And when you head off to work in the morning, just be aware that the dead eyes and shuffling gait of your co-workers doesn’t necessarily mean they have been zombified over the weekend. It just means it’s another Monday morning back at the salt mines. (Or is Walking Dead a sneaky stealth metaphor for this?)

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EST:

8 p.m.

ABC: Once Upon a Time: (New)  Cora brings the giant to Storybrooke, where he unleashes vengeance on the town; Emma and Henry go with Mr. Gold to search for his son; Greg asks Belle what she saw on the night of his accident; Anton the Giant befriends humans.

CBS: Grammy Awards: (Live) LL Cool J hosts the 55th annual event, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Scheduled to perform: the Black Keys; Fun; the Lumineers; Mumford and Sons; Frank Ocean; Rihanna; Taylor Swift; Justin Timberlake; Carrie Underwood; and Jack White.

FOX: The Simpsons: (New) Bart’s dream girl, Mary Spuckler, comes to town, but his failure to pay her enough attention is having a negative impact on their relationship. Meanwhile, Homer once again runs afoul of Marge and lands in the doghouse.

NBC: Betty White’s 2nd Annual 90th Birthday Special: (Repeat) Seven-time Emmy Award winner Betty White will be celebrating her 91st birthday in style as a star-studded line up of special guests pays tribute to one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. Guests include Bill Clinton, Blake Shelton, Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Sean Hayes, Rico Rodriguez, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman and many more.

8:30 p.m.

FOX: Bob’s Burgers: (New) Bob tries to sweeten Linda’s Valentine’s Day with a heart-shaped pancake, but when that doesn’t stack up, the kids convince him to let them skip school and help him find the perfect gift for the holiday.

9 p.m.

ABC: Revenge: (New) Amanda and Jack’s wedding stirs up emotions as Emily thinks about what might have been; Daniel faces complications at Grayson Global; Conrad starts a new chapter.

FOX: Family Guy: (New) Valentine’s Day proves promising for the residents of Quahog as Meg hits it off with a guy she met on the Internet, Stewie’s time machine transports him to the 1960s, where he falls for a young lady, and Peter and Lois spend the day in bed.

NBC: Saturday Night Live in the ‘80s: Lost and Found: (Repeat) A look at the ups and downs of the late-night comedy show during the 1980s. Included: interviews with producers Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol, cast members and writers; clips of memorable sketches and musical performances. Produced by Kenneth Bowser.

AMC: The Walking Dead: (New) Rick tries to rescue a member of his group. Woodbury is in disarray after a recent attack. New guests raise concerns at the prison.

PBS: Masterpiece Classic: As “Downton Abbey” continues, Robert is keen on putting together a viable team for the annual cricket match against the town. 

SHOWTIME: Shameless: (New) Jimmy learns the truth about his dad, and Fiona attempts to unite her coworkers against their boss.

9:30 p.m.

FOX: American Dad: (New) A gold-digging waitress gets her claws on Roger’s philanthropic character Max Jets, who’s just gotten out of prison.

10 p.m.

ABC: Revenge for Real: (New) A self-made millionaire is kidnapped tortured and nearly killed by his envious and vengeful protégé.

SHOWTIME: House of Lies: (New) Jeannie spends quality time with Roscoe, and Matt Damon calls on Marty to help him enhance his image. 

10:30 p.m.

SHOWTIME: Californication: (New) Hank and Charlie meet with superstar Robbie Mac, but the project on the table is a little out of Hank’s wheelhouse.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Wild West Alaska at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet

The Real Housewives of Atlanta at 8 p.m. on BRAVO

Wicked Tuna: Hooked Up at 8 p.m. on NGC

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo at 8 p.m. on TLC

Gypsy Sisters at 9 p.m. on TLC

Gator Boys at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet

Kourtney and Kim Take Miami at 9 p.m. on E!

Ax Men at 9 p.m. on History Channel

Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off at 9 p.m. on Food Channel

Talking Dead at 10 p.m. on AMC

Finding Bigfoot at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet

Iron Chef America at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

Mudcats at 10 p.m. on NGC

Bar Rescue at 10 p.m. on SPIKE

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

Rounders on CINEMAX

Last Days of Disco on FLIX

Men of Honor on FMC

Knight and Day on FX

Wrath of the Titans on HBO

Hello, Dolly on TCM

Sherlock Holmes on TNT

9 p.m.

The Adjustment Bureau on HBO

Superman II on MOMAX

Spartacus: War of the Damned on STARZ

Later tonight:

Traffic at 9:30 p.m. on SHO

The Three Musketeers at 9:30 p.m. on TNT

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX

Unknown at 10 p.m. on HBO

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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