TV Review: Fear The Walking Dead 101 “Pilot”

Fear The Walking Dead

*contains spoilers*

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A prequel series spinoff of a show based on comic series. Only there is no comic source material for this show. Let’s say my expectations aren’t high.

That said, that it is entirely original could make it fresher than the original series and without that source to compare it to there is less conflict of loyalty vs. better story telling or more exciting action.

It starts off with a guy staying at a church. There are echoes of the creepy scene in 28 Days Later when Jim goes into the church. This guy seems to be with friends and is looking for them but when he finds them one is a zombie and one is dead and half eaten. The guy runs outside and is hit by a car. People run up…everything is still functional. Society is intact.

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The beginning of the outbreak……but we still don’t see how it happened.

The next scene is a family at breakfast. They get a phone call. The guy that was hit by the car was their son, Nick. Well, the son of the mother, Maddie. Stepson(ish)of the man, Travis. Nick is a drug addict. He was staying at a drug den, a place they call “the shooting gallery”. He’s at the hospital and awake but he won’t answer questions he is asked. He claims to not remember anything about what he was saying before about people eating people.

I’m wondering if they will actually reveal anything about the outbreak’s origin. I feel like they really shouldn’t. It’s better not being revealed but that makes this show almost pointless.

I guess seeing people at the beginning of the outbreak is interesting. It’s also on the other side of the country. They’re in Los Angeles.

It’s definitely Los Angeles. The whole show is tinted yellow-gold to show the sunshine and glitz of the West Coast (I assume).

The first mention we get of anything apocalyptic is when a kid at the school where Maddie and Travis teach talks about something happening in 5 different states, people killing people, some kind of virus or microbe. He says no one is doing anything they think they’re doing in the future. The lady tells him if it were anything important the authorities would tell them. She says it’s all going to be fine.

It seems our main cast is the family and those connected to them. The man, Travis and his wife, Maddie, her daughter, Alicia and son Nick, her daughter’s boyfriend Matt(?), the man’s ex wife (I didn’t catch her name) and their son Chris. Those are our principle characters at the moment. We are introduced to them all first.

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We will see who actually survives and for how long. I assume they won’t all last for very long. This is a Walking Dead show after all.

  

“There are no bodies. They couldn’t just get up and walk away” is what the man and woman say when they revisit the church trying to find out exactly what happened and if Nick really imagined it all (at this point they don’t think so because despite the lack of bodies there IS a lot of blood at the church). We of course know that is what happened, the bodies did indeed just get up and walk away. There is a bit to much tongue-in-cheek humor like this playing on what we know that the characters do not know. It’s amusing-ish but at the same time it’s kind of out of place with the show content.

Around this time in events, we also meet Cal, Nick’s dealer. Nick thinks the drugs were laced. Cal insists they are not. Cal offers him drugs to calm him down but takes him out to an abandoned area and tries to kill him. Nick shoots Cal by accident when they’re struggling. Nick calls his step father who also brings his mother. Cal is gone , which we the audience expected, when they go to look for him. He soon shows up and tries to kill them. Nick hits him with the car multiple times until he can’t get up but is still moving.

A viral video has also gotten out of an accident where the body rose and attacked the EMTs and took lots of shots to the chest without going down. He didn’t go down until they shoot him in the head. The video is causing some panic in LA. A lot of kids don’t show up or school. We are seeing the beginnings of the fall of society.

These, and the likely OD victim, Gloria, at the beginning are our only glimpses of zombies in this episode.

What I’m wondering is exactly how fast or slow the story is going to move. The pilot shows both the story and outbreak (since that is presumably what it is) spreading fairly slowly. At first it seems that only those that die of natural causes are coming back as zombies. So, those dying from bites aren’t that large of numbers yet. From here on will the downfall of society be fast or will it be slow and take all season or longer? I’d kind of prefer slow. It needs to be different from the original series and that doesn’t just mean different characters and a different location. Since we followed Rick, who was in the coma during the beginning of the outbreak on the original series we missed all the beginning. This series should show those things we missed.

The characters feel a bit flat but in this case that is okay. They will have time to develop the ones that stick around. I liked Nick, the drug addict, but felt nothing for anyone else one way or the other. I expect Travis to die. The father figure is the main character in the original series so I don’t think they’ll go that route on this one. I expect Nick to be the main character. That is how this first episode is structured anyway. He also makes an unlikely hero. I’m thinking they assume people like the unlikely heroes (since everyone loves Daryl Dixon so f-n much). So, they gave us one as our main character here.

I’m keeping my mind open for now. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about the show. If it were the pilot for a show whose world we know nothing about I would say it was a horrible introduction to the show as a whole but since we already know this world it works okay. The writing feels similar to the original series as does the camera work and direction. I don’t think anyone not familiar with the original series would have much interest in this show, though. Not based on this first episode, it’s not developed enough for new fans (which I found surprising) but those already familiar with and that are a fan of this world from the original series will probably be drawn in well enough.

Overall….it isn’t a great show as a stand alone series. At least not based on this first episode. However, as a companion series to the original The Walking Dead, it isn’t bad. I’ll keep watching and I imagine most other people will too.

AMC picked up the show for a 16 episode second season before they even aired the first episode. So, let’s hope people keep watching for their sake. What confuses me is that in press they have said they are trying to catch up the timeline to the original series even though they have no plans for crossover….wtf? Why want that? The earlier timeline is what makes this show unique. I hope they know they what they’re doing. I’m trying to have faith.

I really wish they had come up with a better series title, though. It’s kind of ridiculous.

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*Fear the Walking Dead had the most viewers for a cable tv show premiere episode is history. So, there is that. Good sign? Bad sign because it may not live up to expectations? We will see next week, I guess.*

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