Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TV Review - Fear the Walking Dead Pilot

Last nights premiere of the Walking Dead spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, had the challenge of meeting high expectations from fans of the series. I have watched all of the Walking Dead seasons and am a devoted fan. So what was my take on this semi-prequel set in Los Angeles?

Originally I planned to write this review yesterday morning but having watched the 90 minute episode Sunday night didn't feel compelled to get down to it. Why? I wanted a chance to let my reaction percolate a little and unfortunately it remains slightly lukewarm.

In its own way the opening salvo is an origin story, at least for the family that the episode focuses on and suffers as most such setups do. Too much seemingly irrelevant details. Individually their performances were fine but the characters themselves left me ambivalent. Do I care about them? Not at this point which I recognize is early, but they will have a long way to go to make this family interesting.

Conversations and dialogue seemed deliberately off-kilter I assume to begin to create the necessary suspense and build tension. I found this to be a little artificial and unnatural. I recognize that the audience is in the know about what is to come but for some of the simplest things the characters seem obtuse, not asking questions where a normal person surely would.

The cast
One of the strongest features of the Walking Dead debut that contributed to its wow factor launch was the fantastic soundtrack. Fear the Walking Dead's sound and music seems functional and forgettable. Let's hope it improves. There were a couple of minor scenes that were odd or silly and included the kid in the guidance counselors office with his dire prognostications. A character straight out of central casting for a Stephen King novel. We'll see if that angle goes anywhere. From a "what were they thinking of" point of view I nominate the principal's office scene where the mother talks to his back and we wonder for a moment if he has turned walker. Way too lowbrow.

But all is not doom and gloom or yawn worthy because the final five minutes definitely throws gasoline on the walker fire. Creepy and satisfying, they should have reached for that moment 30 minutes sooner.

Episode 1 Score: C+

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