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AMC's zombies go interactive on the web

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When AMC's "The Walking Dead" returned for the second half of its season on Feb. 12, viewers were greeted with an announcement as the show started, urging them to head to www.amcstorysync.com to "start [their] two screen experience now." It was the kick-off of the network's interactive web experience, "storysync," which features real-time content and discussion for fans online as they watch the show on TV.

The concept makes total sense in our ADHD, constantly connected times. I don't know anyone anymore who just sits and watches TV, and with most people I know (myself included), their multitasking usually has something to do with the computer. Thus, it really is smart of AMC to combine the two and further engage its audience.

Computer problems prevented me from trying out storysync on its debut, but I was able to give it a go during the most recent episode. I wasn't sure about it at first but, by the end, I was having fun with it.

At the beginning of the episode, as the action on the TV screen is just starting to gear up, I found storysync distracting. Things were popping up on the computer screen every 30 to 90 seconds or so, and I found myself drifting from the show's action to watch the site's countdown clock to see when the next tidbit was going to appear.

However, once the action got going, the storysync items slowed down to one every three to five minutes, mainly after key action or plot points. Also, the site automatically has sound enabled, which gives a quick alert noise whenever a new item pops up, so if I felt like I was getting distracted from the episode, I just minimized the window and then returned to it when I heard that to see what the new item was.

The items are primarily polls. For every zombie kill, there's one rating its goriness with the options "barely bloody," "serious splatter," "guts galore," "major carnage" and "total bloodbath." And there are a lot of snap-judgment calls for you to vote on whether you agree or disagree with something a character just did or said.

There's another, called a decision poll, where you pick what you think the characters should do from a list of three or four options. This, of course, doesn't affect the action on screen, but I thought it was fun to see the results of those and the other polls and whether I was in the majority of each vote or not.

There also are some photos -- flashbacks to moments from past episodes tied to a particular scene and pictures of zombie kill shots -- as well as graphics (including a kill count for the week), trivia, zombie kill instant replay videos and a sneak peek at the next week's episode.

In addition to that, you can join in a live, real-time discussion with other fans. However, you have to register for that, and I didn't bother, so I don't know what sorts of things were being discussed or how that feature works. I like that it's there, though, and I might try it out eventually. Whenever I make reference to a show on my Facebook page during or shortly after it airs, I'm mindful to keep it spoiler-free for friends who haven't seen the show yet. With this discussion, you can chat away without having to be mindful of spoilers, because you know the people you're talking to are watching the show when you are.

There's no word yet from AMC if it will expand storysync to encompass its other shows; I imagine it will depend on what success the network sees with it on "The Walking Dead." I'm not so in love with it that I'm going to make a point to be online at 9 p.m. sharp every Sunday, but if I'm online when the show's on, I'll sync up.

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Series premiere: "Lab Rats," 8:30 p.m. Monday, Disney XD (a teen inherits three superhuman step-siblings).

Season premieres: "Being Human" (U.K. version), 9 p.m. Saturday, BBC America; "America's Next Top Model," 9 p.m. Wednesday, CW.

Returning: "Psych," 10 p.m. Wednesday, USA.

Timeslot premiere: "FRED: The Show," 8 p.m. Friday, Nickelodeon.

Season finales: "It's a Brad, Brad World," 10 p.m. Monday, Bravo; "Parenthood," 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC; "White Collar," 10 p.m. Tuesday, USA; "Top Chef: Texas," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Bravo.

Specials: "Great Performances: Memphis," 9 p.m. Friday, PBS (Tony Award-winning musical); 84th Academy Awards, 8:30 p.m. Sunday, ABC (red-carpet coverage, 7 p.m.; red-carpet coverage on E!, 5:30 p.m.); "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: My Big Fat Failure," 9 p.m. Sunday, Nickelodeon (celebrities discuss overcoming failure); "Fashion Police: 2012 Academy Awards," 10 p.m. Monday, E!; "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues," 9 p.m. Monday, PBS (with Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, B.B. King and many more).

Of note: First semifinals performance on "American Idol," 8 p.m. Tuesday (guys) and Wednesday (girls), Fox.

West Virginia alert: Andrew Zimmern's "Bizarre Foods America" visits Marlinton's Roadkill Cook-Off, 9 p.m. Monday, Travel Channel; a couple from St. Albans (or Charlotte, W.Va., according to the network) will be featured on "House Hunters," 10 p.m. Monday, HGTV.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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