Fear The Walking Dead (AMC) pilot preview: Can the spin-off be better than the original?

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Written & produced by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) & David Erickson (Sons of Anarchy, Low Winter Sun). Co-produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, Bill Johnson & David Alpert. Directed by Adam Davidson (Hell On Wheels, Community, Big Love, Parenthood). For AMC,  AMC Studios, Circle of Confusion & Valhalla Entertainment. 55 pages.

Description: When her drug-addict teenage son Nick is found in shock in the middle of the street as if he has just seen a ghost, Madison Bennett tries to understand what happened to him, with the help of her daughter Alicia and her fiancé Travis Posada. They discover it might be linked to the mysterious illness that is spreading at a fast rate in the city of Los Angeles for a few days and inevitably all around the globe soon…

With Kim Dickens (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards, Friday Night Lights), Cliff Curtis (Die Hard 4, Training Day, Three Kings), Frank Dillane (Sense8), Alycia Debnam-Carey (The 100, Unfriended), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Orange is the new Black, Grimm), Lorenzo James Henrie

STARTS THIS AUGUST ON AMC

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When AMC announced they were working on an unnecessary spin-off of The Walking Dead, nobody was really surprised and everybody expected something a little more exotic and original than setting it in Los Angeles. I mean, they had endless possibilities. Africa, or Asia, or even Europe would have been more exciting. Another part of the globe! But way more expensive and definitely riskier. It was too much to ask I guess. Robert Kirkman and his co-producers took the easy road, we can’t really blame them. So what’s the catch? Fear The Walking Dead is basically showing the first days of the epidemic through the eyes of the members of a modern, recomposed and a little cliché family who lives in the city of angels. The interesting part? Discovering what happened with the authorities, the government… But that’s not much what the pilot is about. The series? Hard to say for now. We’re just given a little bit of information, hoping we’ll get more at some point. But we know how powerless everybody is and how it ends, so…

As I understand it, Fear The Walking Dead is trying to be broader than the original show. Which is weird. Part of the fact it became such a phenomenon is that it was surprising, never seen before on TV, brutal, graphic and carefully crafted. It was a genre show that became highly popular, addictive and hyptnotizing without even trying to. Same as what happened with Game of Thrones on HBO in a way, except they tried harder. FTWD isn’t surprising. It starts exactly the same way, with Nick, the teenage son, waking up after a long sleep in a house where he is not supposed to be, in the middle of puddles of blood and guts. He starts quickly remembering what happened, the horrors he saw (a friend of his eating another friend of them) and it doesn’t take long before walkers appear, prompting him to escape before it’s too late. Then he gets in a car accident. End of act one. It’s efficient but also sufficient to realize that whether it’s in The Walking Dead or the spin-off, whether it happens in Atlanta or Los Angeles, with Rick or with Nick, at the end of the day it tells the same story and it’s a story that is already running out of fuel for quite some time in the original show – which I watched the first four seasons, before quitting because I was bored as hell and I didn’t like any of the characters still alive, except Carol. I didn’t feel anything anymore for anyone. That’s when you break up, right?

Then there’s the family drama. We meet the members of the Bennett and Posada families one by one. And they are… boring? Kind of. They seem so you and me and everyone else. Okay, the son is a drug addict -and not all of us are- but the mom is a mom -caring and loving and too kind for Nick’s own good- the stepfather is a stepfather -tries to fit in, tries to be THE man, the savior, the hero- and the teenage daughter is a teenage daughter -rebellious and not too concerned by what happens, as long as she can sneak out to make out with her older bad boy boyfriend. There’s the ex-wife, bitter; and the other son, bitter and pissed. Madison can’t really be compared to any of the moms in The Walking Dead but Travis acts a lot like Rick, at least at the beginning of the series. It’s not hard to connect with them, to understand their feelings, their reactions. And that’s the problem. It’s too easy. It’s too classical. It doesn’t move you, or annoy you. It leaves you indifferent, for the most part. Those who’ve seen the original show don’t want to see a smoother version of it. And those who have not seen the original certainly won’t check out this one. It’s not like AMC could promote it as “it’s The Walking Dead, but for a family audience”. There are still zombies, and violence, and hard stuff to deal with. It ends with a severed head that is still alive and stares at the family…

I’m not a big fan of The Walking Dead and it seems like Fear The Walking Dead won’t be any better. In fact, it can only be worse, judging by the uninteresting pilot they wrote after long hours of brain storming about what this spin-off could and should be. That’s the best thing they could come up with? Duh. It’s lazy and quite common. I’m worried, but not totally pessimistic. I’m a sucker for family dramas. If they can find ways to deepen the characters, flesh them out, and if they have a great secret plan they don’t want us to know anything about for now, maybe there is a show in there that needs time to grow. Hopefully, they already have two seasons ordered to do so. If they fail, they could still say it was always meant to be a limited series…

 

WATCH THE TEASER

16 comments

  1. Sami says:

    Thanks for the review. I love the genre and I’m excited to watch FTWD, as there are some things about TWD I’m ready to leave behind (certain characters who will never die but probably should, specifically). I’m taking this review with a grain of salt as the bias seems to outweigh any possible merits of the show.

  2. Renee D Pellegrino says:

    If you aren’t a fan of the Walking Dead, how can you be objective? The writing alone is impeccable with many different character development.

    Apparently 21 million fans, disagree.

    Leave my Walking Dead alone.

  3. Richard says:

    Sounds like AMC didn’t try at all. :)))) I’ll still watch it, in hopes it’ll give me that Z-Nation feeling of, ‘Wow this show is horrible but entertaining in a cheap, shameful way.’.

  4. ChaiLatteME says:

    The subjectivity is strong in this review, lol.

    I can’t say you’re wrong in how you feel about it, but personal bias shouldn’t be in the review – it makes it hard to ascertain dislike due to the pilot being terrible or coming into it [the FTWD pilot] not caring for the franchise to begin with.

    At any rate, thanks for taking the time to preview the pilot and sharing your review.

    Have a great day/evening! 🙂

  5. dude says:

    But but… you didn’t even review it. You gave your opinion on the brand and spoiled the pilot. How is the acting? The setting? the production? Does it have that “on a budget” feel that people feel TWD has?

  6. Hutt says:

    The guy who wrote this is a moron and has no idea whats good, maybe he should go back to watching the bachelor that’s all this idiots good for

    • Bobby says:

      A moron? I wouldn’t go that far. It does however seem as though he went into writing the review beforehand with a bias already against TWD. So it’s pretty obvious that if you aren’t a fan of TWD you probably won’t be a fan of FTWD.

      The most disappointing thing about any ‘review’ any writer can do is have a bias one way or another about something beforehand. So I would say he isn’t necessarily a moron, he’s just a very poor writer and should consider other professions. 😉

  7. Pingback: Pilot Preview!!!!!
  8. Aven says:

    I guess to each their own… but millions of us absolutely love TWD and cannot get enough of it. I cannot wait for FTWD, and the only episodes of the show that I get tired of rewatching are the governor episodes. You sound like you didn’t really even want to do this review.So why bother?
    I love several of the characters and All the fans I personally know are chomping @ the bit to see season 6.I have read the comics and the graphic novels as well. Always interested in how they’re going to mix things up and trying to guess what’s coming next. Millions of us are all about it!So excited, in fact, that the link to this lousy review is on the best spoiler page going.

    • Lulla says:

      I bother because that’s what I do. That’s what’s this website is about : reviews about pilots. Sorry I didn’t like this one. But don’t be so sure you’ll like it, just because you already like “The Walking Dead”… But I hope you will 😉 That’s just my take.

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