fear the walk­ing dead

The pre­quel se­ries to The Walk­ing Dead sounds just as ter­ri­fy­ing, Joseph McCabe dis­cov­ers

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

We check out the new pre­quel se­ries.

“it’s very much about what you don’t see”

FOR FIVE SEA­SONS, THE Walk­ing Dead has ter­ri­fi­fied TV view­ers with cre­ator Robert Kirk­man’s night­mar­ish vi­sion of a zom­bie apoca­lypse, show­cas­ing the sav­agery of both mankind and its hor­rific un­dead off­spring. But be­yond hor­ror there lies some­thing worse… Fear.

The brain­child of Kirk­man and showrun­ner Dave Erick­son, Fear The Walk­ing Dead ex­plores the early days of the zom­bie virus out­break, which led to the dec­i­mated land­scape ex­plored by its par­ent show. Cen­tred this time in a city, Los An­ge­les, Fear fol­lows one en­gaged cou­ple, Madi­son ( Kim Dick­ens) and Travis ( Cliff Curtis), each a sin­gle par­ent, as they fight for a new life even as the world around them crum­bles to pieces.

Erick­son speaks with SFX from his LA of­fice about how the first Walk­ing Dead spin‑off se­ries came to be…

“I wrote the pi­lot based on an idea, a treat­ment that Robert wrote years ago, which was how we first met,” says the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, who’s just re­turned from the show’s set in Van­cou­ver. “I found him to be an in­cred­i­bly great col­lab­o­ra­tor. When he first called me about Fear, we sat down and broke the pi­lot and talked about sea­son one.”

Erick­son de­scribes Fear The Walk­ing Dead as more steeped in psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror than the se­ries from which it sprang.

“When Robert and I first sat down and started talk­ing about this, it was in the con­text of, in terms of chronol­ogy and timeline, this pe­riod when Rick Grimes was in his coma. So loosely speak­ing our story starts around the same time Rick was shot and what we’re re­ally do­ing is ex­plor­ing the few weeks from the be­gin­ning of the out­break un­til it re­ally starts to reach crit­i­cal mass. It’s very much a slow burn. It’s very much about what you don’t see in the first few episodes. Some­thing is wrong. There’s para­noia. There’s anx­i­ety. There’s ten­sion. One of our fam­ily mem­bers sees some­thing in the be­gin­ning of the show, but doesn’t know if he’s los­ing his mind. He doesn’t know if it’s some­thing he ingested. He’s try­ing to wrap his brain around what he saw, and what he saw is not of this world. There’s ten­sion for our char­ac­ters as they get up to speed and re­alise this virus, this what­ever, is ac­tu­ally turn­ing peo­ple. There’s also an­tic­i­pa­tion for the au­di­ence of course. I think ev­ery­one com­ing to this show knows the genre and def­i­nitely knows The Walk­ing Dead, and it’s partly play­ing with the anx­i­ety and the worry of ‘ When are these char­ac­ters go­ing to catch up? When are they gonna start to re­alise what this re­ally is? And will they re­alise too late?’”

fam­ily drama The showrun­ner in­sists that while Fear The Walk­ing Dead will of­fer the so­cial al­le­gory

that walks hand in hand with tales of para­noia, the show is first and fore­most a fam­ily drama.

“We re­ally tend to spend the bulk of our first episode and then into our sec­ond episode deal­ing with the prob­lems that go with try­ing to build a new fam­ily. Travis has just moved in re­cently. He’s di­vorced, he’s got a very re­sent­ful, an­gry teenage son. Then Madi­son has a son and a daugh­ter, a son who has some sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems and a daugh­ter who is quite driven and in­de­pen­dent and has plans for the fu­ture. And it’s very much about these two peo­ple – Travis and Madi­son – who do love each other. In our minds, it was and should be a very strong re­la­tion­ship. What’s in­ter­est­ing is, as things be­gin to ac­cel­er­ate and as they be­gin to re­alise the world is chang­ing, the at­tributes that they see in each other, that they love in each other, start to change a lit­tle bit. It be­comes a real chal­lenge to their re­la­tion­ship. The at­tributes of good­ness and no­bil­ity and all the things we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate in peo­ple in nor­mal times, they can start to com­pro­mise you when you live in the zom­bie apoca­lypse. So they will start to see each other in dif­fer­ent ways and they will do things they never thought they could do be­fore. It will be an in­ter­est­ing process in that re­la­tion­ship, see­ing how they can rec­on­cile the per­son they love with the cir­cum­stances at hand.”

BE PRE­PARED

Those cir­cum­stances prove even more chal­leng­ing for the pro­tag­o­nists of Fear The Walk­ing Dead than those of The Walk­ing Dead, since, un­like Rick Grimes, nei­ther Travis nor Madi­son is a po­lice­man trained to han­dle crises.

“Travis is an English Lit teacher in high school, Madi­son is a guid­ance coun­sel­lor at the same school,” ex­plains Erick­son. “That’s how they met. We re­ally don’t have any char­ac­ters in the be­gin­ning of our show who are at all pre­pared for this. They don’t have the life skills. They don’t have the things that Rick and Shane had in their tool­kit when the world ended. That’s ac­tu­ally some­thing that will be­come very in­ter­est­ing, be­cause we won’t re­ally get to this point prob­a­bly un­til sea­son two, when it re­ally comes down to sur­vival, when it comes down to hav­ing to find food, hav­ing to find wa­ter, hav­ing to find shel­ter; the things that you need to sur­vive. Then hav­ing to de­fend those things. They’ve never been trained for that. We’ll be deal­ing much, much more with this fish- out- of- wa­ter sen­si­bil­ity. That’s not to say that Rick and Shane weren’t also deal­ing with a com­pletely new world, but they did have some tools that our char­ac­ters don’t. Which I think will be fun for the au­di­ence to watch.” Fear is fur­ther distin­guished from

Walk­ing Dead by virtue of the fact that it is not, at least in its early episodes, a story that takes place on the road.

“We’re not re­ally road- trip­ping it,” con­firms Erick­son. “That’s some­thing we’ll even­tu­ally

get to, but we re­ally wanted to stay in our city and be able to ex­plore it as much as we could. We didn’t want to aban­don Los An­ge­les too quickly. A big part of the show is about the dis­in­te­gra­tion of so­ci­ety as seen through the dis­in­te­gra­tion of this fam­ily. But we do want to show the grad­ual fall of a ma­jor city. There were the­matic and cre­ative rea­sons for choos­ing Los An­ge­les, but we also wanted some­thing that was dis­tinc­tive, and dis­tinctly not ru­ral Ge­or­gia. To live in an ur­ban set­ting for the bulk of the show was some­thing that was dif­fer­ent and dis­tinct from the other show.”

fresh meat

Since Fear The Walk­ing Dead takes place in the early days of the out­break, Erick­son says we can ex­pect to see a dif­fer­ent breed of walker than those that have come to in­fest

The Walk­ing Dead.

“I think Amy [ in sea­son one] was prob­a­bly the best ex­am­ple from the orig­i­nal show of a par­tially turned walker… Some of our char­ac­ters will meet vi­o­lent ends. So they may bear wounds, they may be blood­ied up. But for the most part, our walk­ers will have their dis­tinc­tive look but they def­i­nitely do not have the mon­strous fea­tures that the at­ro­phied, rot­ting walk­ers have on the orig­i­nal show.

“What was im­por­tant to Robert when we first sat down was that as dif­fi­cult as they are phys­i­cally to kill, emo­tion­ally and psy­cho­log­i­cally there’s a trauma to it as well. What I find in­ter­est­ing is that when con­fronted by a fam­ily mem­ber, a friend, a col­league, some­body you had cof­fee with the day be­fore and they’re at­tack­ing you, your in­stinct is not gonna be, ‘ Okay, this per­son’s dead.’ It’s gonna be, ‘ This per­son is sick. This per­son’s on some­thing.’ You want to de­fend your­self, but you also want to help. You want to take care of these peo­ple. Slowly what we did is just in­tro­duce the re­al­i­sa­tion that these peo­ple are gone. So when you have to ac­tu­ally do vi­o­lence to pro­tect your­self, it’s a lot of weight. Es­pe­cially if it’s some­body you knew. That be­came some­thing in­ter­est­ing to ex­plore. What would re­ally hap­pen if you had to put down some­body who you cared about? Not fully know­ing what this is, not know­ing if there is some mir­a­cle cure that’s gonna come along in the next few days. Not know­ing if in a week some­body’s gonna say, ‘ You know that guy you killed? We’re gonna take you away.’

“This is a whole new world,” adds Erick­son. “The op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore the fall and to see the pieces, to see the city com­ing down and our fam­ily frac­tured, it al­lows us to ex­plore some parts of the world, part of this mythol­ogy Robert cre­ated, in a dif­fer­ent way.”

Fear The Walk­ing Dead will air on AMC in both the US and the UK.

“we want to show the fall of a city”

The new show cen­tres around an en­gaged cou­ple and their chil­dren.

“No, I don’t think any­one here bought PPI.” How bad do things get be­fore you re­alise some­thing is re­ally wrong?

Watch out for those fly­ing zom­bies!

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