At this point, it feels safe to say that season 7 has so far been the most divisive yet of AMC's The Walking Dead. Many decried the extended gory violence of Negan's kills in the premiere episode, and many have also been turned off by the almost unrelenting bleakness of the season so far, with Negan never hesitating to remind those conscripted into his service of just how cruel a master he can truly be.
Despite these complaints - and a heavily reported dip in ratings last year - The Walking Dead remains one of the most popular shows on TV, with millions still tuning in to check out each new episode. After spending eight episodes under Negan's brutal reign of terror, Rick and company are preparing to wage an all-out war against their oppressor, hopefully with the combined forces of the Hilltop and the Kingdom by their side. After all, it never hurts to have a tiger on the team when heading into battle.
Those looking forward to Walking Dead season 7.5 will no doubt be thrilled to learn that AMC has granted extended running times to the next three episodes of the series. According to ComicBook, midseason premiere episode 'Rock in the Road' will run for a full 73 minutes, airing from 9pm all the way until 10:13pm. Season 7, episode 10 will run 66 minutes in length, while episode 11 clocks in at a 68 minute total duration.
Walking Dead has featured occasional extended episodes since the early days, but season 7 seems to be setting a new standard for the practice. Season 7's fourth episode, 'Service', was extended to 85 minutes, while episode 6, 'Swear' ran 70 minutes. Episode 8, 'Sing Me a Song', ran for a full 90 minutes, matching the length of TWD's series premiere broadcast. In fact, more episodes of season 7 have been extended so far than have remained inside the series' standard 60-minute time slot.
It's unclear exactly what the motivation behind all these super-sized episodes is, but one assumes that TWD's producers might simply be running into too many scenes they consider essential to the story as of late, leading them to request that AMC extend their allotted time instead of being forced to cut such sequences. There could also be more commercial motivations behind the move, as AMC is likely able to charge much more for ad space during TWD than any other show on their network. Either way, those digging season 7 are unlikely to complain about getting even more time to spend with their favorite characters.
The Walking Dead season 7.5 premieres on Sunday, February 12.