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Weekend TV: Zombies and the Beatles are back

Clear the track, the Zombies are back. And the Beatles. Honestly, if you can tear yourself away from the unfolding, thrilling events in Sochi, you have fine entertainment this weekend.

The Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC, 9 p.m.) is back for its "winter premiere," which means the second half of this season. When last we met the surviving gaggle of stragglers in the post-apocalypse world, there was an outright bloodbath. And they were driven from the safety of the prison that they had occupied, trying to create a peaceful community there. That wretched, despotic psycho, the Governor, waged war on them and they fled. Or at least some of them did, while others seemed lost or dead.

Tonight, on the evidence of what's available, all is quiet and quietly desperate. The story restarts just minutes after the end of the last episode we've seen. A lot of attention is paid to young Carl (Chandler Riggs), the sullen son of Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Now that his dad is injured and the safety of the prison has evaporated, Carl questions and confronts his dad about the future.

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We also learn more about the mostly silent, charismatic, sword-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira), and get some of her backstory in flashbacks. Mainly, what we get here is a picture of how terrifying this world can be even when there is no direct threat from the ravenous zombies and rogue survivors. Be prepared to be terrified without much violence unfolding. It's the silence that will give you nightmares.

The Zombies are not to be confused with the Beatles. Unlike the Beatles, the Zombies are still touring. They performed in Tunbridge Wells in Britain the other night. I checked.

But the Beatles are on TV. The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles (Sunday, CBS, 8 p.m.) marks the fact that, exactly 50 years ago on Sunday, those four blokes with cool hair took to the Ed Sullivan Show stage, and the screaming didn't stop for a small age. Here, we have archival footage and new performances; in honour of the anniversary, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Maroon 5 will play Beatles hits.

And, yes, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are there, plus Dhani Harrison, George's son, who sings Something with Jeff Lynne. And for some reason they've included Katy Perry. There is a reunion of the Eurythmics with Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, who also sing Beatles material. This sounds like the sort of event that was fun to attend, but it looks diluted when edited for TV. Still, there's no stopping the nostalgia kick when it's a Beatles thing.

Also airing this weekend

Just for Laughs Presents: Whitney Cummings Bleep Show (Saturday, HBO Canada, 9 p.m.) is reportedly this: "Whitney Cummings presents the comedy style that has made her a household name." That is overstating it. Cummings is not to everyone's taste: Her sitcom was a disaster, a series of unfunny sketches awkwardly stitched together; and the show she co-created, 2 Broke Girls, is a labour to watch. According to the promo material, "the TV starlet brings the best in filthy, raunchy, and outrageous comedy as she hosts seven comics, including Derek Seguin, Bridget Everett, Jim Norton, Tom Papa, Katherine Ryan, Damien Lemon, and Neal Brennan." And indeed there is a fierce amount of talk about pornography, and it's graphic. There you go – pure filth. You'll need a shower after this.

The Making of a Lady (Sunday, PBS, 10 p.m.) is an adaptation of The Making Of A Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden. This ain't The Secret Garden. The central character is too-nice, kind-hearted secretary Emily (Lydia Wilson) who, in a pickle about money and social status, agrees to marry a boring toff named Walderhurst (Linus Roache), only to meet disappointment. Hanging around is Joanna Lumley, having a go at playing a self-centred, airheaded Lady whatsit, and it doesn't work. Along comes Walderhurst's unreliable cousin and some stifled lusty stuff happens. This is a costume drama meant to carry you through withdrawal from Downton Abbey. Ideal if you're exhausted and jaded by the Sochi coverage.

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True Detective (Sunday, HBO Canada, 9 p.m.) returns after a break for Super Bowl Sunday. About this week's episode, creator Nic Pizzolatto told The Daily Beast: "Episode four is the beginning of Act Two. Suddenly, the rhythm of the entire show changes. The slow part is over now. The first three episodes move at a very deliberate, almost funereal cadence, like you're marching toward something. And what you're marching toward is that final image in episode three." We're glued to it, we are.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More


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