You know, the thing about Fear the Walking Dead is that the hype-train behind it was so large and so loud that I don’t know if it was even feasible that the first episode would live up to everybody’s expectations. Not only that, there wasn’t a comic that ran for years before this series, so nobody had any idea what to expect outside of what they’ve seen on The Walking Dead. For those that might not remember, TWD has been around for years and not even taking into account the years before the show that the comic was around.
Early analysis shows that Fear (which it will be referred to, because who wants to type that whole thing out every time) set an all-time record for a cable series with over ten million viewers. That is some insane numbers for a show that, really, nobody knew anything about aside from the fact that there would be some zombies and that guy that did The Walking Dead was also working on this show.
Stumbling on to a few reviews and just hearing the overall buzz on Fear, it seems that those ten million people might be having mixed feelings about the debut and, frankly, so am I, but maybe not for the same reasons. I went into this pilot trying to keep TWD out of my mind as much as possible. This is not The Walking Dead, this is Fear the Walking Dead and while it might be in the same universe, it operates on a completely different timeline on the opposite side of the country with entirely new people and, again, nobody has any idea what’s going to happen because there are no comics to adapt.
You can’t go into Fear expecting a Rick or a Michonne or a pudding-loving Carl and from what I’ve seen, it seems like too many people couldn’t let that aspect go. It’s like at any moment they thought one of the characters from TWD was going to walk down the street in L.A., with a Starbucks in their hand, and interact with one of these new people. Is it possible down the line that Kirkman and company are going to try and do a “cross-over”? Sure, if Fear takes off like TWD proper, it only makes sense, but for now Fear needs to be treated and judged on its own merits.
So, judgment time:
Okay, actually, that might be difficult because as of writing this I don’t know if I’ve really fleshed out my feelings towards Fear. Initially, as soon as credits rolled, it earned an interested “huh” noise. A noise one might describe as a mix of awe and intrigue. But sleeping on it and letting it cook down and render some, I’m not sure. I wasn’t blown away by Fear’s pilot and without bringing up TWD (anymore than that) I don’t know if the first episode is really supposed to blow audiences away.
It’s like reviewing a new number one comic; they’re not typically packed with action and sometimes they can be exposition heavy to establish what it is and potentially where it’s going. Generally speaking, they’re difficult to get a good sense of what the series is going to be about and where it’s going. So to expect too much more out of a pilot is ridiculous. They have to build the world; they have to establish the characters and the setting and the problems and what the characters might face going forward and they have to do this keeping in mind that this series might be someone’s very first glimpse into the world of the Walking Dead. Maybe they missed out on TWD or got too far behind and just never bothered—yeah there are some people like that out there—so essentially these writers had to start from scratch.
From that perspective, I think Fear was a win. I think it introduced us to a family and some secondary characters that could potentially be interesting as we learn more about them—although, if you were to ask me their names I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I don’t if that’s my pre-existing name remembering problem, or if they just weren’t important but, yeah, it’s gone. The mom, the potential step-dad, the daughter, the crack head son, the principal that looked like Obama from behind and a handful of other characters is how I identify the people on this show so far. But that’s neither here nor there.
At the end of the episode, Fear made me want to see what’s coming next. It did what it was essentially meant to do and that was to hook the viewer in to at least one more episode. It’s up to episode two to hook you for the third and on down the line. TWD is an amazing show, even if it’s steered away from the comics in places, but Fear is something else. Fear isn’t tied down; we won’t know what’s going to happen, we won’t have that expectation that this character is going to die around this time—though TWD did a good job of throwing some curve balls on that here and there—and that’s going to be part of the fun. Fear has established a better timeline for when this happens (at least according to this analysis) which is intriguing as all hell plus we get to witness this apocalypse on an entirely different scale on the other side of the country. L.A. dwarfs Atlanta, so I can’t even imagine trying to get out and to safety—or whatever you can call safety.
Robert Kirkman knows what he’s doing. So does AMC and together they’ve brought people on, old and new, that know what they’re doing and how to make a good show. Some say the pilot was boring, I say you expect too much too soon. Give this one a chance and I bet you’re going to be surprised with how good this series can get. It’ll be interesting to see if that ten million (and change) viewership number drops dramatically because of the perception that it was boring. Either way, tune in. Fear has the potential to be something special; you just might need to have some patience.