Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I’m not sure this is what he had in mind.” So marvels one of the characters in The Walking Dead, a zombie-apocalypse survival story on AMC which recently began its third season (seasons one and two are available on Netflix). The show has drawn raves for its facility with horror, its explorations of leadership and its unexpected twists on a familiar genre.

Zombies are by now standard entertainment. Dawn of the Dead (2004) parodied zombies by showing them walking aimlessly through shopping malls accompanied by Muzak: “zombies r us.” Shaun of the Dead (also 2004—a big year for the undead) skewered hipsters by portraying them arguing in deadpan over which vinyl records to hurl uselessly at the monsters. In 28 Days Later  zombies move terrifyingly fast. Max Brooks’s 2006 novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is set to become a blockbuster movie starring Brad Pitt.

TWD is good enough to have drawn 10.9 million viewers for its season three premiere—the most ever for a basic cable drama telecast (or so claims its Wikipedia page). In a breakoff series called Talking Dead, guests including celebrity fans break down the just-viewed episodes like retired football stars dissecting plays in the NFL. The zombie apocalypse may not be upon us, but the undead are gobbling up the TV channels.