Fear the Walking Dead: The Good Man, review

The power of Fear the Walking Dead is in the terror it has so successfully conveyed. Among a sea of negativity, the final episode has delivered in performance and narrative, and it can really only go up from here. While not everyone will agree – based on the number of online articles that have so confidently written off the series – Fear the Walking Dead has established itself as a winning formula, one that doesn’t need to draw comparisons with its sister show The Walking Dead.

In honesty, I was pretty worried that series two wouldn’t surface at all following the heap of critical condemnation that this first incarnation has received but, fear not, AMC and Kirkman and co’ have announced that it’s happening. And, it’s happening on a boat. Did anyone else just hear The Lonely Island and Akon then? No, just me? Moving on…

The final episode, The Good Man, said goodbye to characters we were only just getting to know and said hello to a new world. Travis (Cliff Curtis) finally snapped and it turns out Andrew (Shawn Hatosy) really wasn’t such a good guy after all. That new world is one where Walkers do rule and the army are irrelevant. If anything, the presence of the US soldiers in this first season has intelligently suggested that darkness in humanity doesn’t need a hoard of the undead to rear its ugly head; it was there all along. Whether we see that in Reuben Blades’ Daniel Salazar or in any one of the gun-happy army boys, it’s present. That presence is powerful, scary and well-acted. I like it, I like it a lot.

I was the first to nay-say when I heard the initial Fear the Walking Dead reveal. Why did we need a new zombie series? What would it bring to audiences? It turns out that what it brought (and hopefully, will continue to bring), is a lot. The characters might not currently be engaging spectators on the level that Darryl, Rick and Glenn do, and it might not be a minute-by-minute gore fest, but FTWD is slowly but very surely building an insane tension that is brewing like a fancy tea. Expect to find yourself clasping your face and shouting out at the television set come your home-viewing of this final episode as you feel the fear, because that slogan was right; it begins here. The hair-raising score, the questionable actions of those in charge, and the responses of characters who could be me and you – the components for a great television series are all there. While these elements might need some honing, they are well on their way to becoming damn near impressive.

Th show can only get better, and I’m certainly excited to see what happens next with the culturally diverse family that have been placed on our screens, not just to fight flesh-eating zombies, but to break down barriers and represent the multiple groups that make up contemporary America. Well played, AMC.

Fear the Walking Dead – The Dog and Not Fade Away

The motives of army and government officials are always questionable in the zombie genre. Characters wait for their arrival, but events always go down-hill amongst their presence. We’ve seen it in 28 Days Later, Resident Evil and now in Kirkman’s Fear the Walking Dead. With only two episodes to go until the end of season one, the pace of the drama is picking up as the US army takes charge. Episode three, The Dog, and this weeks installment, Not Fade Away, were fantastic examples of Kirkman, Erickson and crew at their best. These latest episodes have also succeeded in proving one simple, yet entirely important, point: Fear the Walking Dead is a completely different entity to The Walking Dead. The only real similarity is the zombie narrative, and comparisons can no longer be drawn.

Surprisingly, the dark content isn’t related to the undead thus far. The real interest is coming from Frank Dillane’s Nick. He’s sneaky and clever as a drug addict willing to do anything to get his fix, and that anything is genuinely questionable. Dillane has an engaging quality despite his little screen time in the past two episodes and his sub-plot is increasingly becoming one of the best of the series. Cliff Curtis is exceptional as the head of the family. Travis wants to believe everything will be just fine and in a sense, he’s you and me, he represents the home viewer. Ruben Blades as Daniel provides enigma in terms of an interesting back-story and his moments of dialogue give us an insight into his torrid past. The Walking Dead has focused itself heavily on the theme of humanity, particularly in seasons four and five, as Rick and co’ have come to realise the biggest threat are those left alive. That same theme is seen in this new series, but straight off the cusp and warped to escape cliches and complaints.

Can we trust the army? Definitely not. Will all of the main cast survive series one? I bloody hope so. Fear the Walking Dead has proved itself to be a series of dramatic worth, with a talented cast – who might just be that little bit better than the large ensemble of TWD – who drive the tense narrative forward. I like it, I like it a lot.

 

Fear the Walking Dead: So Close, Yet So Far, review

With only four episodes to go (gutting, I know) and a whole lot of ground still to cover, episode two of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead didn’t do a lot in terms of picking up the pace. While we say goodbye to another character – which isn’t necessarily emotional considering how early on in the story we are – we also say hello to some gruesome content. Interestingly, said material is in relation to Nick‘s (Frank Dillane) drug problem, rather than people eating one another. The cold turkey sub-plot is still the most intriguing element to the multi-layered narrative, and the introduction of a new family into the mix is promising. What we have here is a small selection of characters, of different backgrounds and ethnicity’s, and this in itself realistically depicts a contemporary America (ignoring the zombies, of course). Kirkman’s current creation is genre-busting at its very best.

Despite the slow-movements of the virus taking its grip on Los Angeles and the lack of zombie-human combat scenes, director Adam Davidson and co have carefully created an intense and somewhat frightening portrayal of a city in distress. With The Walking Dead we never had the early days of the apocalypse, meaning we didn’t witness the collapse of society as the outbreak takes hold  of America. To produce a series that is entirely dedicated to portraying the beginnings of what Rick, Daryl and gang have been left to deal with is an exciting prospect, and one which I – and I’m sure millions of other viewers – can’t wait to watch unfold. From riots and police ‘brutality’ to distant screams and an ominous non-diegetic score, Fear the Walking Dead is shaping up to be an outstanding series from a talented team of writers, directors, and actors.

 

Fear the Walking Dead, Pilot: review

While I’ve been vocal since the big reveal of a new series that I’m not keen on the Fear the Walking Dead title, in the build-up to Sunday’s pilot episode, I began to come around to the idea of a brand new The Walking Dead spin-off. Penned as a sister series, FTWD brings audiences a bunch of new characters, a vibrant LA setting, and an insightful look into the build-up to the apocalypse. The Walking Dead begins in the midst of the outbreak- most people have already been eaten or turned, and we are placed with just a handful of survivors, with little in the way of clues or answers regarding the initial virus. This in itself raised lots of questions for members of the fan canon, more so now that the Robert Kirkman mega-series is about to go into its sixth season. Because of the total success of the graphic-novel adapted AMC series, I was pretty doubtful at how original, compelling – and even enjoyable – Fear the Walking Dead would be. It turns out, following the 90 minute premiere episode, it’s pretty damn good. To that, I let out a sigh of relief as I begin to eagerly await the next installment.

curtis, dickens and dillane in fear the walking dead

curtis, dickens and dillane in fear the walking dead

The whole idea that this prequel begins right at the start of the outbreak is such a refreshing approach to a genre which is still loved by many, but tired in several aspects. It’s rare to watch an undead project that gives its audience the low-down from the beginning moments of what caused humans to become flesh-eating monsters, and to see writers Kirkman and Dave Erickson work with that here is an exciting turning point for this category of entertainment. Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert are attached as executive producers, and while the majority of WD‘s crew have turned their attentions to the making of this new series, we are inundated with a host of unfamiliar faces. With no Andrew Lincoln or Norman Reedus in sight, we dive into the turbulent world of 18 year old heroin addict Nick (Frank Dillane), his worried mum Madison (FNL alumni Kim Dickens), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and new step-dad on the scene Travis (Cliff Curtis).

Appearing as a drama series and containing few familiar tropes of the horror genre, Fear the Walking Dead has boldly set out to become something of originality. While the ‘Walking Dead comparisons will remain for the first few episodes, expect Kirkman’s escapades into the world of Hollywood zombies to surpass expectations and become independently – and rightfully – known as its own work. Clearly a slow-burner, don’t expect tonnes of gratuitous gore and a decaying cityscape all in series one, but what you can get geared for, is a character-driven narrative that concentrates on relevant societal themes. I won’t give anything away in terms of spoilers, because it needs to be seen from a fresh perspective, but if the remaining five episodes can shape up to be anything like this initial introduction, we are in for a televisual treat. It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised, right?