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[TV Review] “Fear the Walking Dead” Shambles in the Right Direction…

The horror genre isn’t just for us anymore, and this is why AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is one of the biggest shows on television.

But before “The Walking Dead,” I was dreaming of a horror series that could last more than one season before it got canceled. Based on Robert Kirkman’s incredible comic, “The Walking Dead” shambled onto cable in 2010, creating epic buzz that would turn the zombie series into a household name.

And while tens of millions of “fans” will tune into the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” this October, I will not. A huge fan of the comics, I’ve found the series to be a bore, with the fantasization of the zombie apocalypse not translating well to the big screen. Why? It’s probably a mix of the cheap sets, weak characters (and their arcs), and unrealistic Georgia setting. I stopped watching midway through the third season and never regretted it for a second.

It’s always bugged me that, next to “Preacher,” all I ever wanted was a “Walking Dead” television show. Yet, there I was deleting it off the list of programs I subscribed to. I understand a lot of you guys really enjoy it, which is why I restrain myself from jabbing at it as much as humanly possible. Still, I had to express my distate for the wasted potential, especially when AMC announced a spinoff.

Yes, while “The Walking Dead” continues to break ratings records, AMC’s set to premiere a series spinoff, “Fear the Walking Dead,” on August 23rd.

My biggest fear was that the execs, showrunners and filmmakers behind “The Walking Dead” would attempt to reproduce and replicate the show, only in a different setting. “Fear the Walking Dead” had instant meaning for this life-long horror fan. If it isn’t broken, why fix it, right? Well, even though the show is a home run for ratings, it’s a mess. And I desperately wanted it to be fixed.

While it’s impossible to tell how the latter episodes will be (Season One consists of 6 episodes), the pilot presentation of “Fear the Walking Dead” is dragging its feet in the right direction.

The biggest difference between “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” is huge – no, massive.

While most people will point out the difference in scope – being that “Fear” takes place in an overpopulated Los Angeles, as opposed to the barren fields of Georgia – the biggest change is that “Fear” focuses on characters and family, while “Walking Dead” put way too much emphasis on the zombies and how cool the KNB-created undead effects would be (they were clearly trying to make us happy and lost focus of what makes a television series great).

Fear the Walking Dead

“Fear the Walking Dead” feels very modern with a strong female lead and culturally diverse cast. The new series is led by the superior Kim Dickens, who is a stronger actor and has a more realized character than anyone in the first three seasons of “The Walking Dead” (sans Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of ‘Shane’). Dickens plays Madison Clark, a guidence counseler who is pushing through life as a windowed mother, and parent to a drug addict. Her son, Nick (Frank Dillane, pictured above, who is a literal scene-stealer), is the first person on the series exposed to the zombie outbreak, and it’s implied that the cause could be drug related. There’s a really fun arc in the pilot, that riffs on the 2013 Evil Dead, in which Nick isn’t sure what he saw was real, and is convinced it may be a hallucination caused by a bad drug. His confrontation with his dealer is fucking intense, and leads to one helluva finale that sets the rules, and drops the gravity of the situation on the characters like an atom bomb.

Something that really caught my attention in the pilot was the extreme sense of normalcy, which is a device used to lay the believabilty on thick. I basked in it. The one problem, though, is that this causes an extreme lack of urgency, especially since the characters are all scoffing at the news of a potential outbreak. Still, it’s laying the groundwork for several seasons, and knowing how hard the filmmakers are pushing in on the believability makes my nipples hard. There’s still 5 more episodes to build on that sense of urgency, especially after what happens in the pilot’s final moments.

What I can take away from the first 60-minutes of “Fear the Walking Dead” is that it’s aiming to be rich in characters, with Frank Dillane stealing the show (his addiction/affliction is literally the perfect character device). The Los Angeles-based setting is a ideal launching point to deliver on a massive scope. And, more importantly, the writers have written off any promise of explaining the cause of the undead rising. “Fear the Walking Dead” isn’t about the zombies, as stated above, and that’s exactly the fresh start this franchise needs.

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COMMENTS

70 Comments
  • lyleUS

    Awesome, looking forward to it now. Though I thought the premiere was 90 minutes long?

    • Joe DeRosa

      It’s 90 minutes with commercials, which usually gets you about 65-66 minutes worth of show.

  • Werewolf

    What about the Georgia setting did you find unrealistic? You’d think you’d much rather be located in a barren rural area than in a super-saturated metropolitan hot zone in a zombie apocalypse given the survivalism theme… Also, we don’t charge film companies taxes for filming like the douchebags in Hollywood. 🙂

    (Might’ve had a little something to do with it ;-)…that and the Center for Disease Control being here.)

  • A. Ryan

    I would assume that they had to include a “culturally diverse” cast because if they didn’t, they’d get sued for discrimation.

    • J Jett

      A. Ryan, really? that’s all you got? could they have included a culturally diverse cast because

      1. it’s Los Angeles?
      2. the world is way more than just Caucasian people and that is being represented on this (and many others) show?

      it’s bizarre how many white people feel so threatened simply because tv shows/movies are finally showing people/characters who are all different races/different sexualities/etc.

      • Chrissie-Watkins

        Thank you, J, I was actually just typing a similar response. What the race of the cast of a show has to do with the success or entertainment value of the show, I don’t really know.

        • A. Ryan

          I assume you missed my point since I was not speaking of the shows success or failure as entertainment.

      • A. Ryan

        Could they have done so because L.A. is a minority a majority city? Sure they could have. However, given the actual real life stats of that population, whites are less than 30% of the makeup.

        More T.V. shows are showing minorities, not because of some high moral standards, but simply because they know if they don’t promote “diversity”, then they risk litigation.

        • J Jett

          A. Ryan, IMO it’s not about the networks being afraid of being sued. i think many shows/movies now include black, latin, Asian/etc, bi-racial, LGBT people, (as well as white people obviously) because thankfully times have changed and white people don’t own the world/own tv/own etc, etc. i’m white and i welcome shows that have non-white main/lead characters in them.

          • A. Ryan

            I will have to disagree with you since there have been plenty of lawsuits that have been filed on the basis of “discrimination” because there hasn’t been enough minorities represented in such and such capacity. Hell, business go above and beyond to make sure that they fill their mandatory minority quotas since they risk being penalized by the U.S. government or worse. Also, no one wants to look like the bad guy, and since entertainment is a big business, I would presume the presidents of these companies do what they can to minimize any legal risk to their investments.

          • Chrissie-Watkins

            You can’t sue a work of fiction (television show) for discrimination, unless a minority individual is already working for the show and is being discriminated against. The script and story are written as characters, and actors are hired that fit those characters. You are not discriminating if you hire white actors to play white characters, this is considered a “Bona Fide Occupational Qualification”.
            In addition, there is NO SUCH THING as mandatory minority quotas at this point in time, for ANY business, public or private. There are only laws preventing discrimination on the basis of protected classes.
            Yes, I went to school for employment law/ HR.

          • A. Ryan

            I wasn’t referring to suing the work of fiction. I was, naturally, referring to possible litigation involving the actual companies behind the production. I do not believe that there are written minority quotas written in current laws. However, there are unwritten rules. I can guarantee that if a business is majority non-wh!ite, several governmental agencies would be keeping a very close eye on them and possibly even investigate them for any EEO violations. Naturally, no business entity would want this type of liability and thus they hire some number of minorities in order to look “good” to the government and keep any bad press at bay. Most businesses even go as far as setting internal policies to deliberately hire minorities over wh!tes for these specific reasons. Discrimination lawsuits could collapse a company and thus they try and minimize this risk.

          • Chrissie-Watkins

            A lawsuit against a TV show or network for not including diverse characters isn’t actually a thing. People may try (unsuccessfully) to sue, or might voice their disappointment or outrage, but there are no laws in place that you HAVE to have a diverse cast. Especially in California, which actually did away with Affirmative Action in the nineties (unfortunately, IMO). This being the case, I absolutely agree that the show is simply trying to be realistic, and also just hire talented actors.

  • polterclown

    How can somebody who stopped midway season 3 of The Walking Dead be the right person to review Fear The Walking Dead ? Sure Kim Dickens is a good actrice but what Melissa McBride pulled off in the Walking Dead ( esp The Crove, Season 4) so far is amazing.

    • Squint

      Easy, frankly anybody should be able to review anything. This person also enjoys horror and the comics, so still a very good choice. He’s also not really wrong, the Walking Dead is not a good show. I watch it because it’s something to watch, but if it escaped me and I missed a few episodes in a row, I wouldn’t look back and could just brush it off. I’ll give this one a go and see how it works, I’m hoping they did this spin off as a way of righting the wrongs.

    • J Jett

      polterclown, i agree that Melissa McBride is a PHENOMENAL actress. from what i’ve seen of Kim Dickens (i adore her!) i’d say that Kim and Melissa are both incredible actresses (and FEAR’s Cliff Curtis is also awesome!) . it’s a win win for us TWD/FEAR TWD viewers! 🙂

  • J Jett

    i really excited for this show!

  • Jason Bartlett

    What a whiner. “I stopped watching midway through the third season and never regretted it for a second.” Well, you’ve missed good TV. Some horror fan you are. How is Georgia an unrealistic setting? What kind of retard are you?

    • Porty Guil

      but the walking dead is not horror. a soap opera with a few zombie kills per episode, big fucking whoop

      • estrus

        Maybe it’s not about the “zombie kills”?

      • Richter Belmont

        Yet, he’s praising Fear The Walking Dead for the same reasons you pointed out for The Walking Dead, for being a soap opera and having a few zombie kills. That’s why his criticism has no merit.

  • Aaron Headley

    While I disagree somewhat on The Walking Dead being a bad show, I can see why some people would not like it. I myself have gotten kind of bored with it as well as I didn’t finish watching the fifth season save for the finale. Honestly it has gotten kind of boring. The bad thing about a zombie apocalypse of this size and scope is that there really is no option other than it being bleak and depressing. I don’t really have a problem with dark content, but for a long running show like The Walking Dead has been that can wear thin. It is almost like Game of Thrones for me where the novelty has kind of worn off. It has gotten to the point of predictability where you know everyone is going to die eventually. I have my favorite characters on the show, but its stopped being fun because there really isn’t a realistic option for the creators to create any scenario other than a horrific death for them all, so you are watching not for a hope that they will survive but for how long they can survive before meeting their gruesome end. To add to this is show losing its charm, for me anyways, is the scenarios are rather limited in what you can do with it. I mean they are either going to be fighting zombies or fighting evil humans. That’s it. So what can they do to change it up and up the ante? Not much. Season 6 is going to feature more zombies than ever before? Wow. I think they already spend too much time focusing on zombie kills per episode. And the Wolves? How are they anything but another variation of the Governor or the Terminus Cannibals? I have never read the comics and was good about avoiding spoilers, but even I knew Terminus was going to end poorly. So I probably won’t be watching any more, maybe tune in once in a while, but not weekly like I used to. I feel the first two seasons were the strongest because like this new show, it focused more on the group dynamics of Shane vs Rick and the moral conflicts involved with surviving in the new world. But as the seasons wore on it just became just episode after episode of killing nameless zombie/badguy over and over. And I fear the new series will eventually have to do the same. Like I said, with the zombie genre, which I think at this point is getting kind of watered down, what can they do that already hasn’t been done before. I think I may sit this one out.

  • Chaybee1

    Although I am still following The Walking Dead, I basically agree that the show has grown tiresome. The formula of “set up camp – camp get’s screwed by either zombies or humans – walk around for a while – find new camp – repeat” is really wearing thin. They should have saved the last episode of Season 1 for latter seasons in my opinion. I just think it would have added some much needed “hope” (although there is none) to the characters we are invested in. It also provides a break in scenery which I think would benefit. Maybe Alexandria will do so.

    Speaking of “hope” – one of the things I still really like about the show is that they ALWAYS take away any chance of hope and nothing ever ends well.

  • Daniel Ortiz

    Any article posted by Mr. Disgusting is irrelevant.

  • Daniel Ortiz

    Any article posted by Mr. Disgusting is irrelevant…

  • Porty Guil

    i will be skipping everything walking dead. it’s just a soap opera that repeats itself over and over. zombies just aren’t very compelling and neither are the characters

  • Firedog909

    The Walking Dead doesn’t focus on characters and family? Have you actually watched the show or were you just listening and typing on your laptop? Too much focus on zombies? WTF. If anything, the strength of the show is that the zombie’s are not the ultimate threat. Another reason why you can’t trust reviews from this site. One person’s opinion is too biased. You guys need a new review strategy.

  • FromHeroesToDust

    I didn’t even need to read your shit review, I knew it’d be completely biased. Your reasons for hating The Walking Dead are all the wrong reasons. Yet another “the comics/books were better”. Same old tired defense. Come up with something original. I also like how you think you’re a superior horror fan for hating TWD. You’re a tumor on this fucking site.

  • Celso Pïn Júnior

    someone here said: “Although I am still following The Walking Dead, I basically agree that the show has grown tiresome.”

    I have a complete different feeling towards the series… the first seasons were some of the most terrible drivel I’ve ever seen, I kept watching because, well, zombies… I’m also not a fan of HQ, so I haven’t read them either… but I feel that the 5th season was finally the Walking Dead season I wanted to watch… gritty, rougher characters bloody and enticing… I felt like a sort of zombie martyr plodding through the first four seasons, but I feel now my endurance was rewarded with a solid 5th season and I am looking forward to them keeping it up for the sixth…

    I am also psyched for this new one… here’s hoping for at least two decent zombie shows on TV…

  • Celso Pïn Júnior

    some user here said: “Although I am still following The Walking Dead, I basically agree that the show has grown tiresome.”

    I have a complete different feeling towards the series… the first seasons were some of the most terrible drivel I’ve ever seen, I kept watching because, well, zombies… I’m also not a fan of HQ, so I haven’t read them either… but I feel that the 5th season was finally the Walking Dead season I wanted to watch… gritty, rougher characters bloody and enticing… I felt like a sort of zombie martyr plodding through the first four seasons, but I feel now my endurance was rewarded with a solid 5th season and I am looking forward to them keeping it up for the sixth…

    I am also psyched for this new one… here’s hoping for at least two decent zombie shows on TV…

    • Brett Wolfe

      I agree. They have spent seasons 4 and 5 re-aligning the show with the comics, or at least the best they can working within the continuity confines Darabont farted out during his stay..

    • Mike Darwin

      Yep. First season I thought every other ep was solid, the others ham-fisted and a bit cheesy. Season 2 looks better on rewatch, but too drawn out and repetitive at times. In hindsight Season 3, outside some stand out moments and episodes, was a step back with too much melodrama and a poor telling of the Governor’s arc. Season 4 was mostly a step back in the right direction, but the Gov’s episodes again were a misstep (should say that wasn’t the fault of the actor, who was great in a poorly written role). The back half was hit or miss in its episodic format, but more hit than miss. Season 5 while not perfect (Beth’s arc for one) I think was the best yet, and real progress was made in the story telling and world building.

      I do not fault anyone for dropping out earlier, as the sins could easily outweigh the blessings. But the criticisms he has don’t line up with what pretty much everyone in the civilized world thought of the series, and certainly don’t speak to where the show is now.

  • lhcameron

    MrDisgusting , i’ll say it since you dont want to as to not offend your readers…. The Walking Dead is a SHIT show! Deny it all you want it is. And you can say “Oh but it breaks records”. It only breaks records because the producers are smart with how they make the show. The Season Premiere and the Season Finale are always the best most intense moments of the show and they always leave you coming back for more, but everything in between is DRIVEL. The first 2 seasons were amazing because it felt like a zombie apocalypse show, but now it just feels like I’m watching an episode of Days of Our Lives with the occasional zombie appearing for 3 minutes. George A. Romero, the King of the Zombie Films (and don’t you dare deny it) said so himself that the show was a soap opera.

    • estrus

      There are ways to portray zombies from different angles. Time and time again, I find people don’t like WD because they want and are expecting an action/horror movie or fast-paced video game.

      It is what it is, and we love it for that reason. It’s not what you want. Understandable, don’t bash it, play Left4Dead instead.

    • macguffin54

      Romero made 2 great zombie movies (one of which is largely cheesy, but loads of fun). He is not the god of zombie movies. His opinion is no more important than anyone else’s. Sorry, but it’s true.

  • wehoaks

    You try to restrain yourself? You fucking bash the show any chance you get you knob. This blog is fucking terrible. If it wasn’t for the comment community I have grown to know I’d be long gone. And I’m sure many others would be too. Mr. D himself has regressed into a pathetic turd that craves to stay relevant when the site would have stayed relevant, not by Going with the times and turning into a hodgepodge of shit, no by staying singular to horror and what it was in its heyday. Asshat.

    • Brett Wolfe

      Exactly! I post this comment to his weekly tirades against the show. It’s ridic!

  • Brett Wolfe

    Wait, you mean you DON’T like the show? I wouldn’t have known that, unless I read ANY Bloody-disgusting article whatsoever…
    (You do NOT restrain yourself bro…I get your criticism, but stop pretending like you are silently moving forward for the fan’s sake, because you aren’t.

  • diapers

    Disrespectful little upstart for putting the air quotes around “fan”. I was a life long horror fan before you were sucking the teet, you miserable little angry man.

    • wehoaks

      He’s a sellout twat who has nothing to say anymore so he types loud and angry just to get peoples attention.

  • Chris Leoni

    great, this is what we need more fucking Zombie Soap opera bull shit, true Zombie fans in fact true Horror fans in general shouldn’t put up with this garbage get George A Romero to help shut this shit down and preserve his legacy for fuck sake.

    • estrus

      You are so full of shit, I can smell it from here. Grow up son.

    • J Jett

      Chris, let me assure you i am definitely without a doubt a horror movie fan and i have been since i was 6 or 7 years old (a LONG time ago! lol) and i enjoy TWD (although i admit it’s become a bit tired. it’s a bit too repetitive….lather, rinse, repeat). i’m not saying TWD is the most amazing zombie project ever (not at all) but no offense, some of Romero’s zombie films are a trillion times worse than ANYTHING The Walking Dead has ever done (including the god awful, cringe-inducing Lori/Rick/Shane triangle bullshit). i’m just saying, Romero’s track record isn’t exactly flawless (not even close).

      i respect your opinion if you don’t like TWD, it’s not for everyone and IMO it’s quality varies drastically each season but the whole “TRUE HORROR FANS SHOULD DO THIS/PREFER THIS…” riff ridiculous.

  • estrus

    There are ways to portray the zombie outbreak from different angles. Time and time again, I find people don’t like WD because they want and are expecting an action/horror movie or fast-paced video game.

    It is what it is, and we love it for that reason. It’s not what you want. Understandable, don’t bash it, play Left4Dead instead.

  • boaaa82 .

    i feel offend wheres all the white people?!

    • chuck

      What was the point of this comment?

      • boaaa82 .

        to get a reaction from someone like you thank you

  • macguffin54

    You are entitled to your opinion, but your reasons don’t make any sense for not liking TWD. It doesn’t have cheap sets (it takes place in the backwoods of Georgia, not in a space ship; what kind of sets would make you happy??) “Unrealistic GA setting”? It’s filmed on location? How much more realistic can it get? And as for weak characters, while not every character is fleshed out, I think we have been with these characters long enough to have gotten to know a great deal about them. Well, those of us who watch the show, not stopped watching but continue to complain about it as if they know what’s going on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this guy needs to stop writing stories about these shows and let someone with an appreciation take over!

    • wehoaks

      Shot on location in actual homes, actual buildings, the actual woods, you know in practical locations, but the sets look cheap. Yup, Mr. D is a fucking moron all right.

    • Stephen

      I did a double take on that too. Cheap sets? Like seriously, do you want zombie-fighting mech suits or something? The concept of a zombie apocalypse is literally that the zombies ate all of us and left the bones of civilization around to be picked over. The sets are perfect.

      And weak characters? WD is the most dramatic series on TV right now as far as I’m concerned. If they start hyping about the great gas mileage and passenger comfort in their post-apocalypse cars then I’ll start to make with the booing…

  • redeyedjedi410

    While I agree that The Walking Dead isn’t as good as it should be, it is still very enjoyable. You’r hate for it must stem from something else, because all the things you listed that were wrong with the show are stupid as fuck. (see macguffin54’s comment below).

    That aside, Fear the Walking Dead should be good.

  • wehoaks

    “fans”? 25 million per week to be exact. But yeah, use the quotes because your precious self doesn’t like it. Funny, 25 million is also the amount of times you mention this show per week you fucking tool shed.

  • GunsOfNavarone

    Although the writing on TWD is inconsistent, I find myself coming back for more. I feel there is far more to like than dislike and accept that at times we may get the occasional weak episode, but these are characters who have come a long way and most of us have invested in from day 1. I’m looking forward to it’s return.

  • Sasha Kozak

    TWD fell way off after season 1. What did they expect to happen when getting rid fo Darrabont and cutting the funding after season 1? Greedy AMC. I hope this new one is better than what TWD has become after season 1.

    • Demetra

      Season 1 was atrocious. What meth you on?

  • toxicopoulus

    Dude! Did you EVER! watch the televised The Walking Dead. Not enough emphasis on characterization and too much relying on the zombies and KNB effects??

    You realize that most of the criticism that has been heaped upon the show was that it relied too much on characterization, don’t you?

    Heck, that is all everyone was talking about in season 2 (and it hasn’t let up since). We want zombies! Where are the zombies?

  • Mike Rose

    I actually don’t believe that the guy who wrote this article has ever even seen a single episode. If he had, then he would already know that the show is about the people and not the zombies.

  • Reviroo

    So the first point you make for the show is that it’s good because it has a “strong female lead and culturally diverse cast”?

    I’ll pass

  • BlkynJ

    I was about to write a long rambling contort to this article, but the comments make my point..what show have you been watching?

  • Steven Burgas

    Fuck you. It’s more aimless shit.

  • kenneth Tanner

    I don’t know about you guys but I’m excited as any other fan. Shit I wouldn’t have to hang myself until October.

  • Steve V

    “Set in LA”, “Culturally diverse” and “Strong female lead” sounds like the vast majority of shows already on the air these days.

    “Nothing new to see here”, is what I take from your comments.

  • Bobby Jones

    i’ve been obsessed with zombies since i was 8(i’m 41 now), I love TWD, I love Z Nation, and have no doubt that I’ll love FTWD. the only thing i’d like to see added to TWD or FTWD is to see how the rest of the world is handling the end of the world

  • T Brown

    I Loved it!! The buildup was awesome and looking forward to more!!!!

  • Dan Dude

    Why are commercials an TV series so obsessed with interracial relationships now days?

    • klepp0906

      Ikr! Just told my wife after seeing pilot – “seriously, every….. Single…. Show…”

      Apparently the progressives don’t understand the repercussions of mixing species.

      Not like we are already a minority in public schools or anything.

      Not like our entire species is going to be a minority in the USA by 2040 due to them outbreeding us and our women with the mental capacity of a child and daddy issues choosing to cross species breed as if they can’t find a member of their own.

      They’re literally forcing it down our throats nowadays and all the effimate Caucasians are too afraid to stand up.

  • m-m-m-MONSTER_KILL

    Didn’t read the whole thing, but I agree with the first paragraph, I find Walking Dead to be a huge letdown. However, I just wanted to say that I don’t get what you mean by “unrealistic Georgia setting”. Is it unrealistic that it’s set in Georgia at all? Or do you find the representation of Georgia on the show to be inaccurate? If it’s the latter, they DO, in fact, film most of it there. Half the people I know in Atlanta work on the show in some capacity or another. But if it’s the former, I kind of agree. Why would they stay in GA, of all goddamn places? They could go a LITTLE further north and be in areas that are mostly uninhabited.

  • nochbor

    I love the slow constant tension building. I´m waiting to see the civilization breakdown and how the characters handle the unfolding chaos.

  • Rob Mc

    To me this is a soap opera.

  • Blackgriffin

    This show is terrible. The actress who plays the mother has the emotional depth and range of a slab of rock. The actor playing the father isn’t much better. Their children are irritating and shallow. The plot is plodding. I doubt I’ll bother with the second season. I may not make it through the first season, despite it being only six episodes.

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