When it comes to season 4 of The Walking Dead, we can count on four things: 1) There will be more zombie-related mayhem than in season 3, as stated by executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, who said that walkers will become a much bigger threat in the future. 2) The Governor's evil hasn't peaked, so we'll see an even deeper level of viciousness from him. 3) The show is going to focus on Carl's transition into young adulthood and the various moral struggles he faces. And finally, 4) the season will begin shooting on May 4, and it'll air sometime in October of 2013.
That leaves plenty of as-yet-unanswered questions about what else we can hope to see in season 4 (no more Andreas or Loris, please), and also one big burning programming unknown: WHEN in October? And for the love of zombies, are we going to have to endure yet another frustrating mid-season break?
Let's consider that potential premiere date. Historically, each season's premiere episode has been creeping backwards in October:
Season 1: October 31
Season 2: October 16
Season 3: October 14
I'm personally a big fan of starting the show on Halloween night, but I can see why the network would choose to avoid that -- plenty of families have other evening activities going on, for one thing.
This year, AMC's other big show, Breaking Bad, starts on Sunday, August 11. Assuming it airs one episode per week, the series finale will likely happen on Sunday, September 29. Also, AMC's new crime show, Low Winter Sun, is set to premiere right after Breaking Bad on the 11th, and it runs for ten episodes.
After looking at the calendar, considering the existing show scheduling, and consulting my zombie-themed Magic Eight Ball, my best guess is that we'll see a Walking Dead premiere date of October 20.
As for whether or not it'll be a split season like seasons 2 and 3 ... unfortunately, I'm thinking the answer will be yes. On the one hand, split seasons seem like a bad programming decision -- they cost marketing and promotion dollars, they interrupt momentum, and they're generally super-annoying for the rabid fans following every episode.
On the other hand, television tends to shut down in December due to holiday travel, and Sundays in January are mostly sucked up by football. So breaking out the season to avoid that big weeks-long slump is probably a good move, and it's one that's paid off in the past for The Walking Dead. In fact, the season 3 finale showed that the split season didn't hurt viewership in the slightest: their own ratings record was shattered by a grand total of 12.4 million viewers.
Plus, they've got yet another showrunner change to deal with. Writer/producer Scott Gimple will be steering the show during season 4 after the departure of Glenn Mazzara, and having a built-in break to assess direction and make script improvements might be useful. It certainly helped rectify that increasingly lame Sophia storyline in season 2.
So those are my theories: the premiere date will be October 20, and once again the season will be split into two halves. Also, Carl will look almost freakishly older, much like Brandon Stark on Game of Thrones.
What do you think about the premiere timing and the likelihood of the season being split?
Image via AMC