FEAR BE­GINS HERE

Starburst Magazine - - Contents - by Kieron Moore

Whet your ap­petite with a taster of FEAR THE WALK­ING DEAD, the new sis­ter show of AMC’s top zom­bie drama.

Af­ter five sea­sons of The Walk­ing Dead’s Rick, Darryl, and oft-doomed friends wan­der­ing the At­lanta forests, fans have grown to love this select group of sur­vivors. But their ad­ven­tures are only a small part of a world­wide zom­bie apoca­lypse – there are so many other sto­ries wait­ing to be told in Robert Kirk­man’s bru­tal world. Com­bin­ing this with the un­wa­ver­ing pop­u­lar­ity of The Walk­ing Dead, it’s no sur­prise that, back in Septem­ber 2013, a spin-off se­ries was an­nounced.

As we came to learn more about this se­ries, first re­ferred to us­ing the co­de­name Cobalt be­fore the some­what less un­der­whelm­ing ti­tle Fear the Walk­ing Dead was set­tled on, it only be­came more in­trigu­ing. The ac­tion’s moved west to Los An­ge­les, but the more sig­nif­i­cant move is back­wards in time. Whereas its par­ent show’s first sea­son skipped over the early days of the out­break,

with An­drew Lin­coln’s Rick ly­ing in a con­ve­nient coma while chaos broke out around him, this se­ries aims to fill in that gap and ex­plore ex­actly how the world went from civilised so­ci­ety to dog-eat-dog-eat-brains waste­land.

Un­like its pre­de­ces­sor, this sortof-pre­quel isn’t based on any of Robert Kirk­man’s comic books, though the Ken­tucky-born au­thor is still one of the main cre­ative minds be­hind it, along with Sons of An­ar­chy writer Dave Erick­son, who’s serv­ing as showrun­ner. Erick­son and Kirk­man, who’s en­joyed the cre­ative op­por­tu­nity to make a se­ries not “teth­ered by the events of the comic book”, have cre­ated a new set of char­ac­ters whose lives we’ll be fear­ing for, fo­cus­ing mainly on one dys­func­tional fam­ily unit and their ex­pe­ri­ences of so­ci­ety’s break­down.

Kim Dick­ens (who you might recog­nise from Gone Girl, Dead­wood or Treme) leads the cast as high school guid­ance coun­selor Madi­son Clark, and is joined by Cliff Cur­tis (from, err, Whale Rider) as her English teacher fi­ancé Travis Man­awa. Madi­son has two kids from a previous mar­riage – trou­bled Nick (young Lord Volde­mort him­self, Frank Dil­lane), who’s bat­tling a drug prob­lem, and high-achiever Ali­cia ( The 100’ s Aly­cia Deb­nam-Carey). We’ll also meet Travis’ free-spir­ited ex-wife Liza ( Or­ange is the New Black’s El­iz­a­beth Ro­driguez) and son Chris (new­comer Lorenzo James Hen­rie), who’s not so happy with his dad for hav­ing di­vorced. So, as you can imag­ine, this gang have a load of prob­lems go­ing on, and that’s be­fore the dead start com­ing back to life…

A se­ries of teaser trail­ers have hit the In­ter­net show­ing walk­ers sneak­ing up on poor un­sus­pect­ing bit-part ac­tors go­ing about their ev­ery­day lives; these were fol­lowed by a longer trailer re­leased at Comic-Con fi­nally in­tro­duc­ing us to our leads. Both give a good idea of the show’s tone – rather than the manic fight for sur­vival we’re used to, Fear the Walk­ing Dead (for the first sea­son, at least) will give us a sense of slowly ris­ing ter­ror, start­ing off in a very recog­nis­able Los An­ge­les that will grad­u­ally de­scend into chaos. The school at which Madi­son works no­tices a large amount of kids off sick, as a virus be­gins to sweep the city. But flu jabs alone aren’t enough to halt this ill­ness, and soon peo­ple are watch­ing

shaky phone footage of po­lice gun­ning down sus­pects only for them to stand right back up. Be­fore any­one knows it, grand­dad’s back from his grave and is hun­gry for flesh.

This bustling ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment should pro­vide a nice change from the forests of At­lanta, with the densely pop­u­lated area a fer­tile breed­ing ground for chaos, para­noia and the un­dead, and al­low­ing the show’s writ­ers to ex­plore mod­ern polic­ing and pol­i­tics, as well as the mass anx­i­ety that comes with epi­demics, as they show us how this city re­acts to the up­com­ing apoca­lypse.

With Fear set at the other end of the States, and in a dif­fer­ent time pe­riod, to the show it shares three quar­ters of its name with, there are no di­rect crossovers planned, so if you’re ex­pect­ing Darryl to pop up you’ll be dis­ap­pointed. How­ever, the two se­ries are go­ing to be clearly set in the same world, with cre­ator Robert Kirk­man hav­ing ex­plained: “There will be hints and mo­ments in the sec­ond show that if you go back and watch the first sea­son of The Walk­ing Dead will in­form some of the dis­cov­er­ies that they had… We are try­ing to form an over­all ta­pes­try of a TV uni­verse.” A com­mon ru­mour has been that there’ll be a con­nec­tion to The Walk­ing Dead Sea­son One’s Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol, and Noah Em­merich’s Dr. Ed­win Jen­ner, but this re­mains un­sub­stan­ti­ated.

Af­ter an ini­tial pi­lot went down well with stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives, AMC or­dered two sea­sons of Fear the Walk­ing Dead. The first, com­prised of six episodes, will air this sum­mer be­fore The Walk­ing Dead re­turns for its sixth sea­son, and the sec­ond will be a longer run and will air some­time next year.

If Fear the Walk­ing Dead proves as pop­u­lar as the orig­i­nal show, which has sev­eral sea­sons in it yet, there’ll be no stop­ping the steady on­wards walk of this zom­bie-in­fested world, and soon we’ll be watch­ing The Walk­ing Dead UK, The Walk­ing Dead Take Man­hat­tan, The Walk­ing Dead in Space, and who knows what more? Un­til then, re­mem­ber your flu jabs, lock your doors, and get ready for some qual­ity fear­ing. FEAR THE WALK­ING DEAD pre­mieres on AMC in the US on Au­gust 23rd, with a Bri­tish broad­cast ex­pected soon af­ter ex­clu­sively on BT’s YouView plat­form.

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