Title: Fear the Walking Dead Season One Blu-Ray Review
Starring: Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Lorenzo James Henrie, Reuben Blades, Elizabeth Rodriguez
Directed By: Various
The fact that The Walking Dead spawned a spinoff series isn’t a surprise. The fact that it was entering into its 5th season before we got a spinoff series is the surprise. In this day and age where if something is successful it’s immediately copied to death, the producers of The Walking Dead showed remarkable restraint in developing a sequel…well prequel series.
Fear the Walking Dead takes place at the onset of the zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles. It follows a dysfunctional family composed of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Dickens), her English teacher boyfriend Travis Manawa (Curtis), her daughter Alicia (Debnam-Carey), her drug-addicted son Nick (Dillane), and Travis’ son from a previous marriage, Chris (Henrie) and Chris’ mother, Liza (Rodriguez).
Did I say dysfunctional? This family gives dysfunctional a new name. I actually was rooting for the zombies to eat all of them in the first two episodes so that we could get a new family to follow. The Walking Dead gave us sympathetic characters we could rally around…Rick, the small-town sheriff who was left for dead in a hospital when the apocalypse began; Daryl, whom despite his gruff exterior is one of the most noble characters in the show; Carol a woman who has been abused by her husband for years and loses her daughter to the zombies. Fear the Walking Dead gave us a group full of A**holes.
These characters were selfish and self-absorbed with their own frailties that took precedence over what was going on around them. Society is crashing down around their ears and they are fighting amongst themselves over petty issues like whose week it is for custody in the case of Travis and Liza. Their reaction to the zombies was viewed as an annoyance, an intrusion into their daily routine of bitching at each other. Please, someone eat them.
Things begin to turn in the second half of the six episode debut season. The Clarks join with Daniel Salazar (Blades) and his family taking refuge at the Clark’s home. The neighborhood has been turned into a militarized zone controlled by the National Guard and for a time it seems like life will be normal and that the plague is under control. The thought is fleeting as the walkers overwhelm the defenses causing them to flee with a wealthy but mysterious man named Victor Strand who reveals he has a yacht that he plans to use to escape.
The most unique aspect of Fear the Walking Dead is its look at the start of the zombie outbreak. The Walking Dead, along with most zombie films, tend to begin after the zombie outbreak is well underway and society has collapsed. Frankly that is an easier story to tell then taking us back to the beginning. When you go back to the start you have to have reaction on a wide scale…law enforcement, the military, and mobs of people. It has to show the effects on everyday life such as school, work, and media coverage. All of those elements are in the past in The Walking Dead. Daily stress has been replaced by daily survival so it is a vastly different story to tell.
Fear the Walking Dead did itself no favors by turning the first few episodes of the series a soap opera involving a host of unlikable characters. Once it found its footing around episode four and began to show how the zombie outbreak was affecting society, the series showed marked improvement. It certainly doesn’t have the quality and breadth of performances that the original series does, but there is enough good there to give the first season a passable grade.
Audio Commentary on all six episodes by a variety of cast members and producers
A Widescreen version of the pilot episode
Deleted Scenes (6:35)
FEAR: The Beginning (10:13) – Takes a look at how the prequel series was developed
Five Things You Need To Survive (2:17) A look at the cast members and their choices as to what five items they might want should a zombie apocalypse break out.
Locations: LA & Vancouver (6:56) – A look at the shooting locations
Quarantined (6:36) – Featurette on the reality of the military setting up a quarantine situation and how that may or may not work in the real world.
Stunts And Anarchy (6:59) – A look at the series’ stunt work
The Faces Of Fear (5:16) – is a peek at the core characters that the series revolves around and why they behave the way that they do in the show.
The Infected (4:48) – Examines the makeup effects and casting of the zombies