What a way to start a series! By now, I'm sure you've watched the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead and are now fiending for the next. I must say the first episode was a home-run and really worked well to get me excited. Let's focus on what this series premiere did well to establish itself so strongly in just one episode. [Spoilers Ahead]
The only thing more important than the characters in both Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead is the tone. The entire show could not work if it were not for the atmosphere created with the visuals, music, and general ambiance. What was nice about the opening of this series was following Nick through the junkie church only to discover first hand what terror awaits him. The added dimness of both the church and the situation created a perfect collision of tension, fear, and anticipation. For a show with fear in the name, I was expecting nothing less than to be on the edge of my seat from the start of the episode. Even later on, the way that the camera pans from city to characters and vice versa just to remind you of the scope of the pandemic to come makes me feel so uneasy. We know how horrible a city can be when filled with walkers, and this first episode constantly reminds us of the characters' surroundings. Finally, when Nick, Madison, and Travis have their first real confrontation with a walker (Calvin, Nick's drug dealer) inside the tunnel, I really felt that tension and terror of dealing with a force that is stronger than yourself. It was a great way to hearken back to the Jack London, man vs. nature, discussion from Travis' class.
The Dead Parallels
With five seasons of The Walking Dead already completed, this show had to give us something different without straying from continuity. The show-runners put in a lot of great nods to the original show as well as gave us some vital information early on. First off, the opening shot of this series is not only identical to a scene in the pilot of The Walking Dead, but each present to us a flawed and inherently unreliable spectator. Rick was in a coma and injured during the whole initial outbreak, and Nick was waking up from a high with no knowledge of what had happened in the church. With that, Rick then stumbles through the hospital only to find death and his first walker. Much like Rick, Nick goes through the church only to find mutilated bodies and his friend Gloria, who had become a full-blown walker, munching on a corpse. After this, both of our heroes are knocked out; Rick by Duane and Nick by a car. The piece of pertinent information that was learned very early on in this new series was, if you die you become a walker no matter what. This was something that didn't come to light until the end of season 2 of TWD. I love that this show chose to let our characters learn this soon because it will add to the fear of each character while they're still trying to survive the initial breakout. Finally, I really liked the idea of people being sinister and two-faced before the end of the world. In TWD we met plenty of people who seemed nice but were really nasty, horrible people. I always assumed that most of those characters were forced into making those choices due to the apocalypse, but in FTWD, we are reminded that bad people were always bad. I am of course referring to nice-guy Calvin, who turned out to be drug-dealing, murderous, zombie.
The characters in this series had a high bar to live up to, considering their sister show is the best show on cable. I think that each actor was extremely successful in portraying amazingly well written characters. In a show about the apocalypse, we need characters that we not only care about but ones that we relate to. Having grown up in California and spending plenty of time in L.A. I can tell you that I've met people exactly like each of these characters. It really helped ground me in this part of The Walking Dead Universe, as well as get me to feel an emotional connection to each of them. In fact, I actually feel much more invested in these characters than I did with Rick and co. during their first season. I think what makes this set of people more interesting is seeing who they were before the world ended. I can't wait to be introduced to the other members of this cast in the later episodes, and I'm so excited to see the slow transition of each character from their old-world selves to their post-apocalyptic selves.
Are You Infected Yet?
If you're not one of the millions raving about this show, that's fine, but this show deserves your attention and time. This was a great way to introduce us back into The Walking Dead Universe while still giving us something new and fresh. I'm sure we'll all be just as hooked on this series as we are with The Walking Dead.