(NOTE: I will keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, for those who have not seen the first episode of Fear the Walking Dead yet.)
I was very pleasantly surprised by the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead (FTWD) this past Sunday. I believe it actually has the potential to be a better show than its predecessor, if the show doesn’t squander its biggest asset–the fact that it’s set before the full-blown zombie apocalypse.
See, I don’t care why the outbreak started–in fact, I hope we never find out. What FTWD is exploring so far (and granted, it’s only been one episode) is so much more interesting. We are seeing the beginning of the end. We are seeing how a modern society crumbles, and then falls apart completely. And I hope FTWD takes its time showing us that. Because it’s during this period of time that the most interesting stories can be told.
That’s the problem with the original The Walking Dead show, in my opinion. We’re already in the zombie apocalypse. A lot of the drama on The Walking Dead feels forced to me, and the show feels like it’s constantly going in circles, never moving forward. One of the main reasons for this is that they are somewhat handcuffed by the fact that the zombie plague is already here.
Not so with FTWD. There are so many stories ripe for the telling as the zombie apocalypse begins to unfold. And in the first episode, the creative team does a really nice job introducing us to the world and this cast of characters, who are all pretty great. My standout of the cast so far is Travis Manawa, who plays male lead Cliff Curtis. Like all of the core cast, his character is carrying a lot of baggage when we first meet him. His struggle to find a place in his new family while staying connected to his previous one is really well handled, and he plays the part expertly. I actually felt all four of the main leads were interesting and well-played. I like this cast already.
I think there will be some who will criticize the slow burn approach that Fear the Walking Dead seems to be taking, but I applaud it. In fact, I think it works so much better for this show than it does for The Walking Dead. Whereas that show could do with more action and a quicker pace, Fear the Walking Dead should take a measured approach to unfolding apocalypse. Here’s hoping they do.
You can watch the first three minutes of the pilot episode below.