Aug 252015

Fans, including myself, have been eagerly anticipating the prequel series to The Walking Dead that would showcase the initial outbreak of the zombie apocalypse, but this time the location would be the urban center of Los Angeles. The pilot episode broke cable records with over ten million viewers for AMC, but did it live up to the hype? Find out in our Fear the Walking Dead review.

To begin with, we have to temper expectations when writing our Fear the Walking Dead review. The original series got off with a bang as Rick woke up in the hospital with the zombie apocalypse already in full swing. This initial season of FTWD is slower-paced and is comprised of six episodes, with a second season of fifteen episodes already commissioned. So what did we get in the pilot episode?

Fear the Waking Dead cast
Basically, the pilot showed the very beginnings of the zombie outbreak as we meet the family that will be the core of the show. We have a high school guidance counselor (Madison Clark played by Kim Dickens), her English teacher boyfriend (Travis Manawa played by Cliff Curtis), her heroin-addicted son (Frank Dillane as Nick Clark), and her over-achieving daughter (Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark). Then there’s Manawa’s ex-wife (Liza Ortiz as Mercedes Mason) and his son (Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris Manawa).

Right off the bat, we know that we’re dealing with an exceptionally dysfunctional family. The son is a heroin addict, the daughter wants to escape LA and go to college, the boyfriend’s son hates him, etc. It makes you wonder why Hollywood hates normal families that actually get along with each other. I guess they’ll say that greater conflict equals greater drama, but that just says to me that you’re either a lazy writer or a bad one. Still, the acting is quite good, with Frank Dillane standing out as going out of his gourd over seeing his zombie girlfriend eat two other people.

The episode is slow-paced as it’s evident that it’s there to set up the characters for later things. We do get treated to a couple of zombie incidents where people begin to freak out and wonder what’s going on. Again, the show does this pretty well, but it does make you think if anyone in the TV or movie universe had ever seen a zombie movie before. I’m sorry, but if I saw you die and then get up and start shambling towards me, I’m not going to ask if you’re okay or what’s going on. I’m going to assume that some bad shit is happening, and I’m going to get out of Dodge, which is exactly what Nick Clark does in the beginning of the episode.

Fear the Walking Dead zombie
To be honest, there’s not much to hang your hat on in this episode except some character development. There was one or two cheap suspenseful moments where nothing happened, and a couple that were genuinely decent, such as when Travis Manawa went into the church to look around. One does wonder where the initial three zombies went off to, and since zombies multiply exponentially, you would think that just a few hours would really start a chain reaction. Still, only one real day has passed in the show, so I may be coming off as too harsh.

So what’s our verdict in our Fear the Walking Dead review of the pilot episode? It was slow-paced, but it did a good job of introducing us to the people that will be the center of the show. There was some buildup over people going missing and families keeping people at home, but you think the zombie apocalypse would have happened quicker when the first few zombies started running amok. SPOILER ALERT: We already know that the mom is doomed as she was bitten so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. Plus, having a heroin addiction is probably not the best thing to have with a zombie apocalypse breaking out. I’m hoping that the pace and tension ramps up in the next episode. I have to give the initial Fear the Walking Dead episode between a B- and a B.

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