The debut episode of The Walking Dead was the highest-rated broadcast in AMC’s history, with 5.3 million viewers taking in the opening salvo of Frank Darabont‘s vision of life in America after a zombie apocalypse. The second episode was broadcast last night to excellent numbers: 4.7 million people saw one of Michael Rooker’s less pleasant roles and a stomach-churning use for churned zombie stomachs.

In response to the domestic and foreign success of the show, AMC has gleefully greenlit a second season that will run thirteen episodes.

That announcement should automatically lead to questions about what we might see. As of now, there is no officially released plan for the content of season two. Series creator Frank Darabont told Vulture just prior to the show’s debut,

[We've mapped out] until the end of episode six [of the first season]. Not to be a smartass, but truly. I haven’t thought beyond that and I don’t think I’ve read any of the issues that Robert’s published this year; I’ve been too busy. So if indeed there is a second season, we reset to square one and I revisit the entire body of Kirkman’s work. And then I get together with him and we map out what the next thirteen would be.

Here’s a chunk of the press release from AMC:

(New York, NY – November 8, 2010) AMC announced today the renewal of “The Walking Dead” for a 13-episode second season. Since debuting Sunday, October 31, “The Walking Dead” has broken ratings records, with the series reaching more Adults 18-49 than any other show in the history of cable television.

“I wish all programming decisions were no brainers like this one,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, SVP Scripted Programming. “‘The Walking Dead’ is a TV masterpiece on so many levels. We want at least 10 seasons, if not more. Kudos to AMC!”

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics.  Kirkman serves as an executive producer on the project and three-time Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) serves as writer, director and executive producer. Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, The Incredible Hulk), chairman of Valhalla Motion Pictures, serves as Executive Producer. David Alpert from Circle of Confusion and Charles “Chic” Eglee (Dexter, The Shield, Dark Angel) serve as Executive Producers.

“The Walking Dead” tells the story of the months and years that follow after a zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home.  The comic goes on to explore the challenges of life in a world overrun by zombies who take a toll on the survivors, and sometimes the interpersonal conflicts present a greater danger to their continuing survival than the zombies that roam the country.  Over time, the characters are changed by the constant exposure to death and some grow willing to do anything to survive.

Shot on location in Atlanta, “The Walking Dead” is led by a cast that includes Lincoln (“Teachers,” Love Actually) as Rick Grimes, Jon Bernthal (“The Pacific,” The Ghost Writer) as Shane Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies (“Prison Break”) as Lori Grimes, Laurie Holden (“The Shield,” Stephen King’s The Mist) as Andrea, Jeffrey DeMunn (Stephen King’s The Mist, The Green Mile) as Dale, Steven Yeun (“The Big Bang Theory”) as Glen, Emma Bell (The Bedford Diaries) as Amy and Chandler Riggs (Get Low) as Carl Grimes.

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