That was unexpectedly good. Slow, but strangely moody and absorbing.
I guess I should start by saying that I love The Walking Dead. Something about post-apocalyptic shows (Dark Angel, The Last Ship) just reels me in like nothing else. Seeing as how The Walking Dead is the single most successful show on television (ratings-wise), it was a no brainer for AMC to try and franchise the brand starting with this spin-off. I should also mention that while I’m a big fan of Dead, the show REALLY started to lose me last season. In fact, I basically forced myself to finish the season. And thus the seeds of doubt were planted: would I even enjoy a spinoff of a show that’s barely keeping me invested? Surprisingly enough, this pilot wasn’t bad at all.
It sure helps that Fear’s first season will only comprise six episodes. That’s a VERY small time investment, and this opener held enough intrigue to ensure my sticking around for at least another hour or two. The Walking Dead never showed us the virus’ initial spread, instead focusing on Rick waking up AFTER all hell had broken loose. Fear has the benefit of exploring the first wave of paranoia and creepiness in a bustling Los Angeles that is oblivious to the horrors about to take over.
Interestingly enough, there are barely any zombies in the pilot (the show tries to play with our expectations by pulling off some clever fake-outs throughout). Instead, Fear The Walking Dead focuses on one family in particular. Sure their dramas are a bit cliche (oh look, there’s the requisite teenage junkie), but Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis both do fine jobs as the parents leading the pack. The kids are less impressive, but Frank Dillane still manages a hell of a job as the stereotypical drug addict. His sister Alicia however could definitely use some added dimension.
The pilot’s most impressive asset is undoubtedly its final ten minutes, as the broken family comes together to face LA’s horrifying new reality. It’s an unsettling and well-staged sequence that’s tense in all the right places. Here’s hoping the show’s writers don’t drop the ball and give us a blood-pumping run. With only half a dozen episodes comprising the first season, that’s not asking for much is it?
While it might move at a pace that’s far too leisurely, this is an effective debut with hints of fascinating potential.