Fear The Walking Dead reviews are coming in, and are almost overwhelmingly positive. The show premieres to the public on Sunday, August 23.
Robert Kirkman and his team have faced skepticism about a show that has seemed so similar to the original, but the latest reviews indicate that there’s plenty of fresh material not to mention fantastic new actors.
Fear is not a spinoff, since none of the characters from The Walking Dead are set to appear in it, and it’s not quite a prequel because of that same reason.
Instead, it starts a month or two before Rick wakes up from his hospital bed, but it’s set in Los Angeles instead of rural Georgia. The main characters are two high school teachers who have fallen in love with each other. Madison (Kim Dickens) has a daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and son Nick (Frank Dillane), while Travis has a son Christopher (Lorenzo James Henrie). The latter brings his mother Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) into the story because he lives with her.
TVLine notes that the 90-minute pilot is strong, with Dillane in particular a “compelling presence.”
“Dickens (who, for my money, stole Gone Girl) can’t help but be likable, and Curtis is allowed to play Travis as self-aware enough to know when his unrelenting sweetness has made his fiancée — and us! — gag. And, even if the kids are jerks, it’s still pretty damn poignant to watch this group try to make sense of the apocalypse that they haven’t a clue is upon them,” it added.
HitFix added after watching the pilot that the series is surprisingly “quite engaging.”
“The strength comes down to the performances and its ability to be self-referential without devolving into self-parody. Cliff Curtis and Kim Dickens star as a couple who are working to integrate their blended family, and they’re each more than equipped to quickly establish the stakes of this world and get the viewer invested in their familial relationships. Without giving too much away, there’s already a fair bit of drama unfolding in their lives when the reanimated monsters make their presence known,” it said.
Not everyone was effusive about the show. The Hollywood Reporter, which regularly praises The Walking Dead, says that Fear “falls short creatively” and the teenagers “are inherently annoying.”
It does note, though, that the show will garner millions of viewers, most of whom will likely embrace it.
Producers, Actors Talk
Executive producer Greg Nicotero admitted the first season is a bit slow compared to what Walking Dead fans have come to expect.
“A lot of people talk about the show and they’re like, ‘It’s a slow burn.’ When you have anything like this where the audience knows more than the characters, watching them make the right decisions and the wrong decisions, it’s like, ‘What are you doing?! Why would you go near that guy? Why would you let that happen?'” he told Show Biz Junkies.
“We tried to slow-burn the story to make it as much about the anxiety tension and paranoia that goes with this outbreak” instead of “confrontations with zombies,” executive producer Dave Erickson added at TCA earlier this month.
Elizabeth Rodriguez (Liza) also answered the question, “Is there intense paranoia in an urban situation?”
Travis (Cliff Curtis), Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and Nick (Frank Dillane) in Fear the Walking Dead season 1. (Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)
Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) in Fear the Walking Dead season 1. (Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)
“But in the story, it’s first accepting that. Who accepts that? Who’s in denial? What does that take away from us in having to make decisions. And so because we don’t have the rules, it’s not black and white,” she said.
“So, along the way you see us have to compromise and change our values. I think we lose a part of who you are. You’re constantly reinventing yourself only because you have to, because of the choices you have to make to survive. So it’s really beautiful. We do a lot of that in this. I think the fans are going to connect with those questions.”
Meanwhile, Nicotero confirmed recently that Fear The Walking Dead season 2 will have 15 episodes.
They’ll start shooting the second season in November or December. “I think the plan is to have a zombie TV show on 52 weeks a year,” he told Screencrush, referring to having a new episode of either Fear or the original series on every Sunday.