If there was anything the Gore 4 lamented over as much as summers going by too quickly or onions showing up too frequently in food, it was the long wait between seasons of AMC’s zombie apocalypse series, The Walking Dead. The show’s enormous success made it a no-brainer to try and build on that success, and when it was first announced almost two years ago that AMC was planning to do a companion show, fans began to drool over the prospect of more undead drama. Now, as this new series is set to premiere, the Gore 4 takes a look at what we can expect from the anxiously awaited Fear the Walking Dead.
When The Walking Dead first began, we caught a brief glimpse of life prior to the start of the zombie outbreak, before following the adventures of Sheriff Rick Grimes (who had been in a coma when hell first broke loose), his family and other companions as they struggled to survive in a world where society had already broken down. This new series takes place at the onset of the zombie virus, with government, technology and services all still in place. While we mostly likely won’t learn the origins of the virus, at least, according to creator, Robert Kirkman (and it’s really not necessary, anyway), seeing how the world first reacts to and deals with the beginnings of the nightmare should prove very compelling. That the show takes place in and around Los Angeles, as opposed to The Walking Dead’s Atlanta locale, adds another dimension and should provide new and exciting scenarios. Beach zombies, anyone?
Naturally, being that the new show takes place at an earlier time and in a separate location, we’ll also be getting an entirely new cast playing a completely different set of characters. Cliff Curtis plays high school teacher, Travis. You’ve seen him in the recent series, Gang Related, NBC’s Trauma, as well as the feature films, Live Free or Die Hard, Three Kings and Training Day. His character is in a live-in relationship with guidance counselor, Madison, played by Kim Dickens, who has been in the acclaimed dramas, Deadwood, Treme and Friday Night Lights, along with the films, Hollow Man and Gone Girl. Madison is a single mom with two teenagers, drug addict, Nick (Frank Dillane, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and daughter, Alicia, played by Alycia Debnam-Carey, recently seen kicking butt as warrior, Lexa, in another post apocalyptic drama, the CW’s The 100. Travis also has an ex-wife and son, and we’re introduced to another family as well, the Salazars, headed by veteran actor/singer, Ruben Blades as Daniel. One thing The Walking Dead doesn’t get due credit for, and it’s a particular gripe of the Gore 4, seeing the repeated lack of Emmy nominations, is the quality of the acting. That they have cast so many great actors, from director Frank Darabont’s stable (Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden) to one of TV’s greatest shows ever, HBO’s The Wire (Chad L. Coleman, Seth Gilliam, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) to veterans like Scott Wilson, shows that AMC and the producers take this aspect of the show seriously, and further cementing the fact that the show is a lot more than just blood and guts and zombies. This new cast follows this same pattern, and they promise to breathe life into the family dynamics of the show.
Of course, though the dramatic side will feature heavily in Fear the Walking Dead, the title alone promises more of what fans of the show crave – blood-drooling, gut-munching, flesh-eating living corpses. It is here where the show will also get the chance to deviate from its forefather. We’re several seasons into The Walking Dead now, and a great many of the ‘walkers’ are showing their mileage, in varying stages of decay and disintegration. While we do see newer zombies all the time, as people continue to be killed, a lot of them have been around for awhile, and their flesh has gotten grayer, and their movements slower. The new show, being that it takes place at the beginning of the outbreak, will offer the incredibly talented F/X people the opportunity to display more ‘fresher’ zombies, and ones that should have more energy, and therefore, be more dangerous. It will be refreshing to see what they have in store for us.
It should also be mentioned that, whereas The Walking Dead has a template to follow, though they often deviate it from it, with the comics, this new show has no such blueprint, freeing the producers to create an entirely new canvas upon which to draw their story on. While fans may take issue at times when TWD strays too far from its source material (similar to Game of Thrones), they won’t have that problem here. Every episode will be completely new for everyone, though, like the original, we do expect characters we come to know and like meet untimely and grisly deaths. It comes with the territory.
Fear the Walking Dead is executive produced by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and Scott Gimple, along with showrunner, Dave Erickson (Sons of Anarchy). So the bloody pieces are all there for another thrilling and suspenseful series to whet our undead appetite. The six episode first season begins Sunday, August 23rd, taking us up to the sixth season of The Walking Dead. AMC has already announced that FTWD will get a 15 episode second season sometime in 2016, so we now have plenty of Dead on the horizon. And don’t forget to watch a special Walking Dead season 6 preview episode of the terrific Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwick, prior to the premiere of Fear. For more info on Fear the Walking Dead, head on over to AMC’s website. And here’s a trailer to get you salivating:
— preview by Brian de Castro