While making "The Walking Dead," actress Laurie Holden had to consider life after death every day.
"It's the worst part of my imagination. It's murder. It's so dark," says the co-star of the hit zombie drama (which airs its season finale 10 p.m. EST Sunday on AMC).
Holden plays Andrea, a former legal clerk on a road trip with her sister when the world was overrun with zombies. The sisters were rescued by a kindly old man (Jeffrey DeMunn) and joined a small group of fellow survivors, led by a Georgia policeman (Andrew Lincoln).
"A lot happens to her in six episodes," Holden says. "She goes from being this woman who went on a road trip with her sister to what's happening in this apocalypse. She's trying to figure out the best way to survive.
"She has to overcome a lot of adversity and challenges. She really evolves as a character in the first season."
Andrea has transformed perhaps more than any other character on the show. She has gone from being an office worker to something vastly different just to get by day to day. "I like that she is becoming this female warrior," says Holden, 38. "I'm a tomboy, and she's a tomboy."
She needed that sort of toughness to get through the harsh production days of "The Walking Dead." They shot in Georgia during one of the hottest summers on record.
"It is really beyond real," she recalls of the work. "I wore the same clothes every day for a month. They were filthy.
"We're shooting things until 4 in the morning. The producers and the writers love (that) we are in the heat because it makes us look so miserable. The sweat dripping off of us on the show is real sweat from the heat of that day. There's nothing fake about it.
"In a way, it's a good thing for the actors because it is authentic for the show."
The sweat and hard work have paid off. "The Walking Dead" is averaging 5 million viewers a week, becoming one of the biggest dramas on cable this fall.
Other highlights for the week of Dec. 5-11. Listings are subject to change. Check local listings:
-- "On Strike For Christmas" (8 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network). A harried wife and mother stirs up a community by calling a halt to her holiday chores.
-- "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" (9 p.m., A&E). The KISS rocker returns for more episodes of his reality series. In the opener: He visits the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and ponders his mom's trouble-filled past.
-- "Bama Belles" (10 p.m., TLC). Three women living in a small Alabama town deal with life, love and careers in this new reality series.
-- "The Hasselhoffs" (10 p.m., A&E). If any celebrity is made for a reality show, it's David Hasselhoff.
-- "Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business" (11 p.m., VH1). Brandy may have lost "Dancing with the Stars," but she and her brother still have this reality show to fall back on. It examines how they deal with the daily headaches of show business. Guess Bristol Palin won't be making an appearance, though.
-- "American Country Awards" (8 p.m., Fox). Toby Keith and Reba will perform at this first-time country-awards event, live from Las Vegas.
-- "The Sing-Off" (8 p.m., NBC). Nick Lachey is host of this competition that looks for the next big a cappella group.
-- "Big Cat Week" (9 p.m., National Geographic Channel). It's like Shark Week over on Discovery, except the "sharks" have claws and fur. First up: a documentary spanning decades of cats in the wilds of Bostwana.
-- "Men of a Certain Age" (10 p.m., TNT). A second season about three middle-age friends begins as Joe (Ray Romeo) starts to date and Owen (Andre Braugher) gets news about his teenage daughter.
-- "Glee" (8 p.m., Fox). Brittany, the same teenager who believes "magic combs" can make her sing better, wants to desperately believe in Santa Claus.
-- "Minute To Win It" (8 p.m., NBC). A holiday-themed installment has contestants going for Christmas cash.
-- "Mythbusters" (9 p.m., Discovery Channel). President Barack Obama has a few myths he wants to bust around here.
-- "Halo Awards" (8 p.m., TeenNick). Nick Cannon oversees this look at teens who do good deeds for their communities.
-- "Video Game Awards" (8 p.m., Spike TV). Guess it's too late to have Pac-Man as a write-in vote for Game of the Year, right?