The zombie apocalypse has been with us for a while now, with The Walking Dead leading the pack as the most successful zombie television series of modern times. Now in its 6th season, there seems to be no end to the human struggle for survival against the living dead.
Hot on the heels of The Walking Dead has been a number of recent attempts to mimick its success, most noteably the deliciously quirky comedy-crime drama iZombie and the equally successful continuation of The Evil Dead movie franchise as a weekly television offering. The battle to offer something new in a flooded zombie marketplace keeps writers reaching for the top of their game and thankfully, there seems to be an influx of brain-food for them at present.
Fear The Walking Dead is one of the more recent entries in the zombie genre. As a prequel to The Walking Dead, it takes us back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, following the traumas of one family and their associates as a mysterious “virus” quickly spreads through the population. The mother series threw us into the thick of the post-apocalyptic world and fans of the series will no doubt be excited to finally go back to see how it all began.
The benefit of a prequel is that it opens itself up to new audiences who may not have followed the original series. With new characters and situations, anyone can jump into this world, although fans gain extra benefit by linking events back to the original serial.
In Fear The Walking Dead, events take place in Los Angeles, following the struggles of high school teacher Travis (Cliff Curtis), his wife Madison (Kim Dickens) and troubled step-son Nick (Frank Dillane). Like the parent serial, the characters are full of foibles and are often unlikeable, yet they present a human factor that makes them intriguing. Their responses to the zombie outbreak encompass a believable spectrum of reactions that make them entirely relatable, even when we don’t agree with their actions. A dysfunctional family unit struggling to unite may not be an original dramatic device, but it works well in this instance to highlight the humanity of the situation and add tension.
Whereas The Walking Dead has more and more frequently being seen as too repetitive and predictable in its distinctive formula each season, Fear The Walking Dead is offering a fresh, new and unpredictable twist to that universe.
While only six episodes long, the first season promises to develop a lot more in its 15-episode second season which is yet to come. Creators Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson have taken the lessons of The Walking Dead and improved on their story-telling techiques, with their success rewarded with a second season that is more than doubled in length.
Checking it out is a no-brainer.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 7
Fear The Walking Dead is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.