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Tuesday, September 02, 2014, 7:36 a.m.
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THE TV COLUMN

Walking Dead marathon to lurch all weekend

By Michael Storey

This article was published July 3, 2014 at 2:07 a.m.

the-walking-dead-dead-white-and-blue-marathon-will-feature-from-left-jon-bernthal-as-shane-walsh-andrew-lincoln-as-rick-grimes-and-sarah-wayne-callies-as-lori-grimes

The Walking Dead “Dead, White and Blue” marathon will feature (from left) Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes.

Stock up on the munchies and turn off your phones, zombie fans, The Walking Dead mega marathon is upon us.

And I do mean mega marathon. Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday on AMC, all 51 episodes and four seasons of the hit series will air back to back in consecutive order.

I'll just let that soak in a moment.

The event kicks off with Season 1, Episode 1 (aired Oct. 31, 2010), "Days Gone Bye," and continues all weekend until Sunday's 7 p.m. encore of "A," the final episode of Season 4, which aired on March 30.

Are you up for it? Maybe you can use the DVR and take naps.

Billed as "Dead, White, and Blue" in honor of the holiday, the Independence Day extravaganza will top off at 8 p.m. Sunday with host Chris Hardwick and a new Talking Dead and a Season 5 preview.

I love Talking Dead with all its behind-the-scenes goodies. Others, however, have told me they'd rather not know how the hot dog is made. Too much insider info spoils the show for them.

For the record, The Walking Dead pilot episode was first seen by an impressive 5.4 million viewers. The Season 4 finale was viewed by 15.7 million, making the series a cable phenomenon. The marathon will be a good chance to catch any episodes you may have missed.

It will also be a treat to see some of our dearly departed old favorites again -- Amy, Jim, Otis, Sean, Randall, Big Tiny, Tomas, T-Dog, Warren, Donna, Oscar, Axel, Milton, Karen, David, Alisha, Lilly, Mika, Lizzie, Shane, Lori, Dale, Sophia, Merle, Hershel, Andrea, even Violet the pig and The Governor and Penny.

Gee. When you write them all down, it sure seems like a lot of dead characters.

For the record, the website that keeps up with such stuff reports there have been 488 walkers dispatched onscreen over four seasons. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) leads the kill count among our intrepid band at 25, followed by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) with 22.

In the first episode, Rick searches for his family after emerging from a coma and Morgan and Duane help teach him the new rules for post-apocalyptic survival.

In the last episode, Rick and the handful of survivors finally make it to Terminus, where they get a rude awakening instead of the welcome and sanctuary they had so hoped for.

Rick's last words: "They're screwin' with the wrong people."

Reedus is currently shooting Season 5 in Georgia and recently told Entertainment Weekly, "It's going great. It's so dynamic because it's so fast-paced and so complicated. It's great to be back."

Asked about the return of "Warrior Rick" (instead of "Farmer Rick"), Reedus said, "Everybody on the whole team is so bad*** right now. It's interesting, because a lot of characters' personalities are clashing. But yeah, we definitely have Rick back."

October can't come too soon.

There's more. If Fourth of July marathons are your thing, then Syfy has a good one lined up with its annual Twilight Zone extravaganza.

Episodes from the classic Rod Serling series will run from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. Friday and pick up again at midnight Saturday through 3 a.m.

The original Twilight Zone ran from 1959 to 1964 and scared the spit out of me from age 9 to 14. Certain episodes are seared into my brain.

For example, when the doctors unwrapped the disfigured patient in "Eye of the Beholder" and we discovered they were hideous aliens and the failed patient was beautiful.

Or "The Invaders" about an old woman in a log cabin who is terrorized by tiny aliens. It turns out the aliens were American astronauts on a planet of giants.

Or "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," where an entire neighborhood turns on itself because of suspicion and paranoia. It turns out the aliens were watching from a nearby hillside and taking notes.

And who can ever forget a young William Shatner in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"? It made me believe in gremlins.

So, if The Walking Dead isn't your marathon favorite, go retro with Twilight Zone and travel "through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination."

ABC News. In case you missed the major shake-up, Diane Sawyer, 68, is stepping down as host of the evening World News and will be succeeded by David Muir, 40.

Also, Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos, 53, has been named to the newly created position of chief anchor for ABC News -- a position higher up the ladder than Muir.

Stephanopoulos will continue on Sunday's This Week and Good Morning America, but will be the lead anchor for live coverage of breaking news and other major events.

Sawyer will continue to work for the network with an emphasis on original reporting and interviews.

The new lineup will begin after Labor Day.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 07/03/2014

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