Pop Culture

Undead battle: 'Walking Dead's' zombies vs. 'True Blood's' vamps

AMC and HBO / Today
"Walking Dead" or "True Blood"? Which do you prefer?

There’s something about the dead that makes people feel alive.

“True Blood” has been sucking viewers in since the steamy HBO series debuted in 2008. The Bon Temps drama features telepathic waitress Sookie, who has trouble deciding between which undead boyfriend she’s most drawn: the courtly Bill or the Viking Eric. There's also newbie vamp Jessica, who loves and is loved by two human men.

But while vampires have a certain allure, there’s nothing seductive about a zombie. It’s the polar opposite when the living look at those creatures stumbling around in the dead zone.

AMC snuck in "The Walking Dead" last year with slim expectations for the series geared mainly toward the Comic-Con fanboys. Then “Dead” became a sleeper hit with a miserly six-episode season.  Zombie fans rejoiced when the series came back for 13 episodes this season on Oct. 16, even though the season is split into seven installments this fall, with the final six starting Feb. 12.

The 90-minute premiere broke basic cable ratings records with 7.3 million viewers -- trumping the season four premiere of "True Blood," which drew 5.4 million this summer. So what does “Dead” have that makes zombies even more enticing than vampires to viewers?

Glad you asked.

1. The dead may be slow walkers, but the series provides viewers with an action movie every week. While "True Blood" tells a rather leisurely tale, you can bet "The Walking Dead" will set your heart pounding as the group of survivors blasts its way through the zombie herds.

2. While we'll never forget some of the gorier scenes from "True Blood" -- including crispy fried vamps and oozing innards -- "The Walking Dead" turns the grotesque into an art form, sure to make sure you stay on that diet. (Seriously, don't watch the show while you're eating. Zombie brains and intestines aren't pretty.)

3. "The Walking Dead" is like living in a Western fantasy. The days of Marshal Dillon doling out justice every week on "Gunsmoke" may be over, but Sheriff Rick in his cowboy hat stands for truth and justice in a world losing all semblance of civilization. On "True Blood," where the vampires are the heroes, it's hard to forget that some of them have done some pretty ghastly things to innocents.  (Remember Eric torturing the beloved Lafayette, or not helping Tara in her time of need?)

4. Nothing says escapism like a show that can scare you right out of reality. "The Walking Dead" comes up with at least one scream-worthy scene every week. (Who wasn’t digging their fingernails into the armrests as Andrea realized she was on her own when the zombie entered the RV?) It's been a while since "TB" got the juices flowing from pure fear.

5. Even in fantasy land, you need to have believable characters. While the beleaguered band of humans is facing the undead 24/7, they also do battle with their own demons, from shaky marriages to losing loved ones. As for "True Blood," the number of pure humans with normal, non-supernatural problems seems to drop with every season. (Thank goodness Jason Stackhouse didn't go werepanther!)

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