AMC has announced that the second season of The Walking Dead will debut on Sunday, October 16th at 9pm (ET, PT) with a 90-minute episode that will kick off a 2-week long Fearfest event.  Following the supersized premiere of Season Two will be six more episodes from the 13-ep second season, but the final six episodes will air in 2012, starting on Sunday, February 12th at 9pm (ET, PT). 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the unscripted series Secret Stash, which is being produced by Kevin Smith, will air “in conjunction” with The Walking Dead in 2012. AMC is still considering a Chris Hardwick-hosted talk show that will be based on discussions of the network’s scripted series, which include The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad (see “Walking Dead Talk Show).

The first season of The Walking Dead, which is based on the Image comic book series by Robert Kirkman, set a new record for a drama series on basic cable for viewers in the coveted 18-49 demo, so there is a lot riding on Season Two.  But the amount of money that AMC had to pay to get Mad Men back on the network has caused the network to cut back on production costs for The Walking Dead, which in turn led to the departure of original showrunner Frank Darabont (see “Trouble Ahead for The Walking Dead).  Will the network’s budget cutting have an effect on viewership for Season Two, or will The Walking Dead be able to maintain its basic cable dominance?