Let's get down to business with Saturday's (January 14) Television Critics Association press tour panel for AMC's "The Walking Dead"...
In case you didn't already see, AMC has extended the previously renewed third season of "The Walking Dead" to 16 episodes. But Season 2 is only 13 episodes and it's returning on February 12 to wrap things up.
5:25 p.m. We've got Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Robert Kirkman, Glenn Mazzara, Gale Anne Hurd and more.
5:26 p.m. "It's a give and a take. It's an evolving process," Kirkman says of how close they're sticking to his comic series. "We're able to sit back and mine the best-of from my comic series," he adds, saying that he'll take the best of of his books.
5:26 p.m. "Shawn Ryan convinced me to join Twitter," Mazzara says, adding that Kurt Sutter sent a lot of followers his way.
5:28 p.m. "My initial reaction was.... 'No. They did,' because I had heard that this might happen," says Melissa McBride of the Big Sophia Reveal from the last episode. "The unknown that she put her faith into is kinda gone now," McBride says, predicting that Carol is going to be in a little bit of limbo for a while.
5:29 p.m. Mazzara thinks that the Big Reveal is going to have ripples for both Carol and Daryl and is going to force Carol to learn to stand on her own. "One of the traps with that character is just to make her the grieving mom, just to hit that one note," Mazzara says, adding that now they're trying to find something new to say with the character.
5:30 p.m. Do they have specific zombie rules regarding speed and zombie genesis and whatnot? "I wouldn't want to go through them all, but that's something we're very mindful of," Kirkman says, noting that your physical health when you die regulates your speed when you're reborn. Regarding the nature of rebirth, Kirkman says it remains to be seen.
5:31 p.m. Greg Nicotero has started having zombie dreams since he started doing the show and he has started taking ideas from those dreams. Hurd says that they had a zombie in the first episode played by an actor with a zombie phobia who used the show to conquer his fear.
5:33 p.m. "That's something that's not really addressed in the book and that's something I'd like to keep. This story is about our characters," Mazzara says of whether or not we'll learn what started the zombie outbreak in the first place. "It doesn't feel right that they would have those answers and if they had those answers, what would they do with them?" Mazzara says and he adds that internally, they haven't even discussed the question.
5:34 p.m. Is it hard to keep the zombies scary, episode to episode? "You react to them the same way that the characters react to them," Nicotero says, adding that he feels like the makeup and prosthetics have been improved since last season. Nicotero also says that a lot of time is spent making sure that the actors playing The Walkers stick to their rules. Hurd sticks to the party line that regarding zombie-speed "There will be no Usain Bolts," but that speed is variable with each zombie. Zombies also become more animated when they sense there's a meal nearby.
5:37 p.m. No Darabont or budget questions yet...
5:38 p.m. "I can definitely say that that's not confirmed," Kirkman says of a report from an extra claiming that the Michonne character is on her way.
5:38 p.m. Regarding the actors and their dirty wardrobes, Reedus takes the question immediately. "Everyone went for showers and i just went for whiskey," Reedus recalls of his character's choice when they arrived at the CDC last season. "At least we have duplicates of the clothes," McBride says. "You do?" Yeun replies.
5:40 p.m. There we are. Our first budget question, kinda. Or maybe it's just about how the zombification process on-set. It takes an hour-and-a-half to do makeup on a "hero" zombie. They also have to go to "zombie school" that has become less important this season since the zombies were able to watch the show last season and they know how "Walking Dead" zombies look. So not a budget question at all.
5:42 p.m. Do they enjoy going to Comic-Con? "The first time you go to Comic-Con with something new that the fans care so deeply about, they're nervous. They want to love it, but they're very, very afraid that maybe we screwed it up," Hurd says, remembering the first Comic-Con a couple years ago, an appearance that came very early in their shoot. Hurd remembers the relief from the Comic-Con crowd as much as the excitement.
5:43 p.m. Is the group going to become splintered between Team Shane and Team Rick? "That rivalry is certainly at the heart of the show," Mazzara says. "You have these two Alpha males sparring for position and I think we get a lot of great story out of that," Mazzara adds.
5:45 p.m. Getting to the end... Question about the alleged leak last week of Frank Darabont's intended sequence, one involving a team of Army Rangers. "That story was discussed internally," Mazzara says, calling it one of "many, many ideas that were discussed in the writers' room. "It felt like business too far away from our core characters," Mazzara says, carefully emphasizing that the shift away from that storyline came WHILE FRANK WAS SHOWRUNNER. "We have a lot of ideas like that," Mazzara says. "It's just the nature of TV that you need 10,000 stories to get to one," Mazzara says. He denies that any decision regarding that material was made while Darabont was still involved, rather than after his exit.
5:51 p.m. Joel Stillerman says that Season 3 of "The Walking Dead" will also be split into two segments.
That's it, kids... Nothing about budget or other Darabont stuff.