Well, last night saw the debut of the new spin-off series from the hit AMC zombie series The Walking Dead. The new series is called Fear the Walking Dead and will actually show what the original series did not – the actual outbreak of the zombie apocalypse. That is a great idea on the surface, but it also comes with a huge downfall. There is not much zombie action as the show started.
Here are the facts. The first season of Fear the Walking Dead is only six episodes long. The season premiere was 90 minutes. That means that there will be around seven hours of the show’s first season, assuming the season finale will also be 90 minutes. This premiere had a zombie in the start, eating some junkies, and then a zombie at the end trying to kill our heroes. That means that there were two brief zombie attacks and 21 percent of the series is already over with.
If you have ever followed Twitter during an episode of The Walking Dead, it is easy to see that many fans hate any moment that does not involve zombie or evil human attacks.
you don’t start a murder mystery by describing the murder. Fear the Walking Dead is the boring bits a good storyteller skips over
— bock bock (@jamesforeman) August 24, 2015
Now, while the cries of boring ring throughout social media, there is news that is good up front but might kill the series in the long-term. Fear the Walking Dead ended up as the highest rated series premiere in cable history with 10.1 million viewers and a 6.3 rating among adults between 18 and 49. That is great news for the franchise, but if a lot of the people who hated the premiere tune out next week, it could kill the spin-off series.
So, what was right and what was wrong with the Fear the Walking Dead premiere?
The episode started off with a junkie named Nick waking up in an old abandoned church and trying to find his girlfriend. He finds her down in the sanctuary, where she is a zombie and is eating people. He runs for his life and when he hits the street, he is hit by a car. The camera pans back to show that the world is still normal, and no one knows about the upcoming zombie apocalypse.
That opening was awesome. I loved how it looked like the regular Walking Dead but then we see that was only a small pocket of the universe and the fact is that the world is still working. Even the plane flying by showed that things were still going well and we were at a point earlier than the original series started. That was the promise of this series and it started off well.
This is exactly what I wanted to see when I heard about the show, and it is what we are getting. However, with the good came the bad.
Frank Dillane might become interesting as the junkie Nick, but he has a long way to go. Every step of the way, his junkie movements and mannerisms seemed forced and fake. There is a way out here, because he was hit by a car, so his walk was needed to show his injuries. It just looked … strange. Now, here is the real problem – Nick, nor any of the other humans in this series, have given us any reason to care if they live or die.
Look at the original Walking Dead. If Rick, Carol, Norman, Glenn, or others die, people will protest. Now, there have been a lot of episodes to grow to love the characters, but many were favorites from the start. This episode saw Nick, a junkie who spent 90 minutes either messed up or freaking out, his mother Madison, who didn’t believe anyone no matter what they told her, his sister Alicia, who wanted her mom to just give up on Nick, and Travis, a step-dad whose own son hates him, making him try to do better with Nick.
Out of these four characters, Travis is the only one that comes across as sympathetic at all, and the only worthwhile protagonist on the series. Supporting characters are not much better. There is a principal who simply lets Madison do his hard work, Alicia’s boyfriend who disappears halfway through, a nerdy high school kid who knows something bad is happening, although Madison dismisses him, and Nick’s childhood best friend, who is also his drug dealer.
90 minutes into the premiere episode and the audience is given a fractured family to cheer for, and none of them warrant the attention outside of Travis. After the opening attack by the girlfriend, Nick can’t convince anyone that what he saw was real because he is a junkie. 80 minutes later, his mom and step-dad finally see their first zombie (the aforementioned drug dealer), who they stand by while Nick plows over him with a car twice. Then, the episode ends.
That means that 21 percent of the first season of Fear the Walking Dead has ended and the plot has only been set up with unlikeable protagonists. Also, for the people who hate the fact that The Walking Dead kills a person of color before bringing in a new one, there were three black characters in this episode. One was the worthless principal, the second was Alicia’s boyfriend who disappeared, and the third was a well-respected member of the community who also happened to be Nick’s drug dealer and soon-to-be zombie.
So, what can we expect after this over-long introduction to the world before the zombie apocalypse? The teasers for upcoming episodes of Fear the Walking Dead shows the army coming into town, led by Ruben Blades’ Daniel Salazar and it looks like they are locking things down to protect the survivors.
However, as we have seen with the original series, when a group of humans decide they know what is best, the humans can become more evil than the walking dead themselves.
Hopefully, with the upcoming danger and evil comes a group of characters that the audience can actually care about. If the fractured family is all we have to follow, hopefully Travis can help carry the load, since he is the only character worth fearing for. Nick might have some hope, but for now, no one is really worth investing the time in.