'Walking Dead' returns; 'Dog With Blog' debuts

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With this week's premieres behind us, the season's new fall dramas are just about done rolling out on broadcast channels ("Emily Owens, M.D." debuts on The CW next week; see a review in Sunday's TV Week).

But cable networks never sleep, which explains the never-ending stream of new shows in the pay TV universe, including this weekend's return of AMC's "The Walking Dead' (9 p.m. Sunday), tonight's debut of Disney Channel's "Dog With a Blog" (9:40 p.m.) and next week's premiere of History's "The Men Who Built America" (9 p.m. Tuesday).

'The Walking Dead'

The zombie apocalypse continues with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company finding refuge in a prison overrun by zombie prisoners and guards.

If the guards and prisoners were turned into zombies early, Rick reasons, "This place could be a gold mine" of food and supplies. That's just what a rag-tag team of human survivors need, especially considering that Rick's wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), is pregnant with their second child.

Taking the prison is, of course, easier said than done. Zombie beheadings and stabbings follow with gusto, and Lori worries if her child is stillborn, could it already be a zombie in her belly, biding its time before clawing its way out of her womb? "The Walking Dead," while certainly nerve-wracking and exhilarating, will never be confused with uplifting TV.

Sunday's season premiere also gives viewers a glimpse of Andrea (Laurie Holden), who is now hanging out with sword-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira), a character first glimpsed -- dragging her armless zombie pets by chains -- in the second season finale.

But the focus of the episode is on the prison and what happens there, including the zombie chomping of a survivor and a discovery inside the big house.

Sunday's premiere doesn't advance the story much -- shades of early season two -- but there's enough zombie carnage that fans of mayhem may not care.

For DISH subscribers who have been without AMC for a couple of months due to a stalemate on a new carriage deal, AMC will make the "Walking Dead" season premiere available via an online live stream at 9 p.m. Sunday. Register in advance here: www.amctv.com/thewalkingdead4dish/.

'Dog With a Blog'

Talk about an antidote to "Walking Dead" horror: Disney Channel's "Dog With a Blog" may be mostly mindless but it's a lot less likely to encourage nightmares.

"Dog With a Blog" is another Disney Channel show in the old TGIF style that's sure to delight children and give parents only a minor headache.

A blended family takes in Stan -- a talking dog (voice of Stephen Fuller) with his own blog at seestanblog.com -- who helps to broker peace between perpetually warring stepsiblings.

Tyler (Blake Michael) is a shaggy ladies' man; younger Avery (G. Hannelius, who has pretty good comic timing) is "psycho about rules." The sibling rivalry stuff is pretty hackneyed, but the dog gags can be amusing and clever.

In one scene, Stan is in the middle of a conversation when he excuses himself abruptly, saying, "There's something really important I've got to do." He runs from the kitchen to the front door, barks at the mailman, and then runs back to continue his conversation.

Two other noteworthy aspects of "Dog With a Blog": Sometimes the dog's facial expressions appear to be computer-animated. Also, it's a little sad to see former "Daily Show" correspondent Beth Littleford reduced to starring in something so silly when she once worked with smarter, edgier humor.

After tonight's premiere, "Dog With a Blog" will air regularly at 8 p.m. Sunday beginning Nov. 4.

'The Men Who Built America'

A mix of talking head historians and business executive celebrities (Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban included), History's eight-hour "The Men Who Built America" (9 p.m. Tuesday) chronicles America's historical business titans by interspersing executives' observations with re-created dramatic scenes.

It's a fairly decent mix with the dramatic scenes looking authentic enough but the production does its credibility no favor when blowhard publicity hound Donald Trump shows up to comment.

Worse yet, the program uses that terrible tendency, gleaned from reality shows, of recapping everything that's come before after each commercial break, a big waste of time for anyone who's been watching the show from the start.

Tuesday's two-hour premiere focuses on the business histories of Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. It ends with the promise that the Oct. 23 episode will be all about Andrew Carnegie and the foundations of the steel industry.

'Jersey' canceled

CBS gave out the first cancellation slip of the season this week as the network yanked low-rated Friday night drama "Made in Jersey," effective immediately.

"CSI: NY" takes over the 9 p.m. Friday time period this week and on Nov. 2 "Undercover Boss" will return at 8 p.m. Friday. Until then, reruns of other CBS dramas will air at 8 p.m.

Nick News plays politics

"Nick News With Linda Ellerbee" will air a "Candidates Special" at 8 p.m. Monday on Nickelodeon, but only one candidate showed up.

Every four years "Nick News" lets kids ask the candidates questions. For the first time, only one candidate agreed to take kids' questions, President Barack Obama. Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney declined to participate. The special will include video clips of Gov. Romney addressing some of the issues raised by kids' questions.

In 1996, 2000 and 2008 both leading party candidates made themselves available; in 2004 neither candidate participated in Nick's special.

The result of kids' votes -- tallied at nick.com/kpp from Oct. 15-22 -- will be announced in a "Nick News" episode airing Oct. 22. In five of the last six elections, kids have correctly picked the eventual winner a few weeks before adults vote.

Channel surfing

Former "American Idol" and "X Factor" judge Paula Abdul will be a guest judge next week on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" (8 p.m. Monday, WTAE). ... Sunday's episode of "Globe Trekker" on WQED-TV, which included a visit to Pittsburgh, was broadcast without sound due to a technical problem. The episode will be rebroadcast with sound at midnight Oct. 21.


TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.


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