It’s an interesting prospect, this new series. The Walking Dead itself wasn’t spectacularly popular on its original debut run, though thankfully AMC stuck with it and had faith in the comic to the point where it was given a lot of breathing space and has become one of the biggest sleeper success stories on TV this decade. Plenty of people who would never watch a zombie film have tried out an episode and found it to be much more than a gore-fest, with characters afforded the time to develop without the two-hour constraint a movie imposes on them.
When this series was announced many months ago, it seemed like an odd choice. Everyone was happy to follow Rick Grimes and his band of merry survivors as they loosely followed a path set out by the comics. This would be a new series, following a completely different set of survivors in a completely different area of the same country. Why should we care about them? Doesn’t Rick eventually jus any other group anyway, so the fate of anyone we see is ultimately sealed anyway? As the plot and approach were slowly revealed, mega-fans were somewhat appeased and given hope that the new series would actually be able to survive on its own two feet.In this first feature length episode, we are introduced to a highly dysfunctional family living on the wrong side of Los Angeles. School councillor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) lives with her two children: over-archiving Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey) and drug-addict Nick (Frank Dillane). Also living with them is Madison’s boyfriend Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), a teacher at her school. The episode opens with Nick waking from a drug comedown and seeing what we know is an early sign of the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Running outside, he is panicked and quickly finds himself run over and ends up in hospital. However, given his frame of mind, nobody believes him, least of all his family, who all think he is going insane.
One of the big promises made by the series creators in the early days of the promotional material was that it would provide a cause of the zombie apocalypse. That is hinted at in the first episode and will no doubt be looked at further in the future.
Did it live up to the hype? Honesty, it’s too hard to say at this point. They’ve laid the groundwork for what could be an excellent series, or it could be seen as a slow start to a series that won’t speed up too much as it needs to stretch out the five weeks between the start of the apocalypse and where the main Walking Dead series started in earnest. The dynamics between the four main characters were on show already and it has to grow quickly to retain the attention of the many millions of viewers that have already tuned in.
AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead will continue next week at 9pm.