That I made it through the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead is a testament to my patience at letting a series find its legs. That I stuck with Fear until the end of episode six is a testament to my love for the original show it's based on. I kept thinking, "It's got to get better...these are the guys doing my favorite show on television, in the same genre, in the same world." But it never really got better. The middle episodes were even worse and really dragged. Sure, episode six was a cut above the previous five, including that grueling pilot, but I never gelled with these characters. From the beginning, I didn't like them.
Episode 1 was a cliche-ridden paint-by-numbers construct sprinkled with flavor-of-the-moment tweaks. It's as though Robert Kirkman forgot about the sheer freedom of writing for the graphic novel format and fell into the rut of mediocre television development and PC appeasement that plagues our media. I found myself rooting for the zombies. Top of the list to die is the junkie son. Far from his epiphany that the rest of the world had caught up with him, I say there's no place for someone like him in this future. If disaster shows have shown us anything, it's that the end of civilization has no pity for the weak, and you don't get much weaker than a heroine addict with no desire to shake the addiction. That he's still living by the end of episode six is solely thanks to Super Debonair Black Tony Stark. The characters on Fear are mostly assholes.
I don't buy the explanation that "No one knew what was to come and so that's why people acted the way they did...this was pre-Rick's awakening." Uh...No. If I see someone that looks like a zombie, even if I'm not thinking "Zombie" I'm thinking, "Gosh, he sure has a strange look in his bloodshot eyes and why's he shuffling toward me?" And I would run, because I'd think that he was on PCP, or at the very least think that chomping on that fellow on the ground is just not behavior I want to be around--zombie or otherwise.
It's not that a genre show can't touch upon themes of dysfunctional families or social issues in a community--if it's done well, it can still be entertaining. There was at best 15 minutes of good television in that first episode which ran 90 minutes and maybe a good two hours spread across the whole season. Frank Darabont's contribution to Walking Dead in that masterful first season of the original is more evident than ever.
Edward Lazellari is the author of the Guardians of Aandor fantasy series from Tor Books.
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