The pumpkins are ready to be carved, the cider is flowing, and for the third year in a row we get to look forward to AMC's fantastic "The Walking Dead" rounding out autumn festivities. 

 

The post-apocalyptic thriller, which became the most-watched basic cable drama telecast in history with its season two finale, kicks off part three this Sunday at 9PM EST. While the pace of season two limped along a bit at times, "The Walking Dead's" slow-burn storytelling generally results in rich character development and tense drama. Early reviews, however, indicate that the next 16 episodes will be something of a roller coaster ride for viewers. 

 

"Just the beginning scene, which lasts almost six minutes before anyone says a word, will plunge everyone right back into a world where there may be no way out," writes David Hinckley of the New York Daily News.

 

Over on the Huffington Post, Maureen Ryan says that season three is looking to be one of the most satisfying yet. 

 

"That's partly because the efforts to humanize and add detail to the characters happen in the margins of solidly entertaining, well-paced stories, and the characters don't do dumb things that make me lose respect for them," she writes. "Rick and Lori are never going to be like "Breaking Bad's" Walt and Jesse, so it's wise to accept those limitations. As the season gets underway, "The Walking Dead" provides meaty genre stories with small, deft character moments, rather than the reverse. The show is, as it should be, freak-you-out entertainment that is nicely (if you'll pardon the word) fleshed out."

 

And as for this Sunday's premiere episode, get ready for it to feature plenty of zombie blood. 

 

"It is easily the most gory and body-ridden episode of the series, and maybe the most outright violent in cable history," writes Tom Long in his review.

 

For a four-minute look at season three, check out the extended Comic-Con trailer below. 

 

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