Last night on AMC-TV, we had the Fear The Walking Dead premiere. No, the pilot episode was not about the Hillary Clinton campaign, though it would be an apt title for it, but is the first spin-off of the wildly successful series, The Walking Dead. The first episode was rather slow and underwhelming, much like the Twitter hash-tag #FearTheWalkingDead getting trounced last night by those concerning the One Direction disbanding. Still, it laid the foundation for a new view of the Zombie Apocalypse. So let′s bring on the Walkers…!
The show opens much as the pilot for TWD, with somebody waking up. In this case, it is Nick Clark, a young heroin addict who was crashed out at an abandoned church used by locals as a ′shooting gallery′. Nick hears strange noises and looks for his girlfriend, Gloria. Still doped up from his latest fix, Nick can′t believe what he finds. Gloria is munching away on a dead body and attacks Nick. He sees that there is a large kitchen knife sticking out of her chest, yet she is up and walking about, growling and snarling away. Nick exits, stage right, and runs barefoot through the streets until a car smacks him down.
Then we get introduced to Nick′s ′blended′ family. Blended with a Vitamix! The show′s writers threw the whole kitchen sink in this group. The only thing missing is a transgender, which I′m sure we′ll see later, since, after all, the new series is located in Los Angeles, California. We have single mother, Madison Clark with her over-achieving daughter, Alicia. Alicia is a high school senior with an African-American boyfriend, Matt, and Madison works at the same high school as a guidance counselor. Mom′s new boyfriend is an English teacher from the school, Travis Manawa. Travis, who just recently moved in with the Clarks, is divorced and his son, Chris, lives with ex-wife Liz. While Madison struggles with her relationship with Nick and his drug addiction, Travis has a pick-up truck load of issues with Chris. A typical Los Angeles family?
A phone call notifies Travis and the Clarks that Nick is in a hospital after getting struck by a car. They meet Nick′s doctor who explains that the young man was ranting and raving and while his physical injuries are minimal, his state of mind may be over the edge. A psych evaluation has been ordered and until then, Nick is in restraints. After a short visit, Madison and Alicia head for school. They learn that many students are out sick from a new flu. Oh-oh! Madison deals with a pimple-faced, brainiac who had brought a paring knife to school. He warns her about some new microbe that the government is keeping under wraps and tells Madison that the future is screwed. No need to worry about college anymore!
Back at the hospital, Travis sits with Nick and gets him to talk about what caused him to go running out into the streets. As crazy as it sounds, Travis decides to visit the church and sees for himself a pool of blood that confirms something bad happened there. At this stage, let me point out to the novices the primary difference between the two Walking Dead series. In the original series, which is set in Georgia near Atlanta, the action begins when Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma in a hospital. Rick had been unconscious for about six weeks after suffering a gunshot in the line of work. As he stumbles about a deserted hospital, Rick soon discovers that he appears to be alone in a world full of flesh-eating zombies.
In ′Fear The Walking Dead′, we watch as the city of Los Angeles begins to react to the start of the Zombie Apocalypse. Life is still generally normal. On Day Two, Travis and the Clark family go about their business and head for school. Travis teaches a class on the meaning of Jack London, the whole Man versus Nature thing. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Nick convinces a nurse to loose one hand from restraint so he can potty. He then frees himself but before he can escape, the other patient in the room, an old man, goes into arrest. Unable to revive the patient immediately, the staff wheel the old man away to ICU. Nick grabs his neighbor′s clothes and exits. When Madison and Travis learn about this, they go looking for Nick, visiting the church and stopping by an old chum of his, Calvin. On the way home that night, Travis and Madison almost get caught in a traffic jam as police cars and helicopters are engaged in some activity involving many gunshots.
Day Three and still no Nick. He bought a pay-as-you-go cell phone and has been trying to reach his drug dealer. Travis and the Clarks go to school but not for long. Everyone seems preoccupied with some eyewitness video posted on the Internet showing a dead man fighting with EMTs and police pumping him full of lead. The dead man still keeps coming until one officer scores a kill shot to the head. This was the incident that caused the traffic jam. The principal calls for a half-day and the school empties out. Madison asks Alicia to go straight home in case Nick shows up, but Alicia heads instead to Venice Beach to meet Matt, who is a no-show. Matt is not even answering her text messages. Is he already dead?
Nick finally connects with his dealer, who turns out to be the clean-cut Calvin. Calvin is unhappy that Nick′s mom came to see him and wonders what Nick may have told the police. He promises to give Nick a fix and drives him a secluded spot on the Los Angeles River. Calvin intends to shoot Nick, but they struggle and Calvin is shot in the chest and dies. Nick panics and finally calls Travis, who arrives nearby with Madison. Nick tells them what happened, but when they find Calvin′s car, and gun, the body is gone. Well it just didn′t stand up and walk away, now did it? Oh yes it did!
As they start back they encounter Zombie Calvin. Travis and Madison fight with him and Nick saves the day by plowing him down with Travis′ pick-up truck. They gasp seeing Calvin′s busted up, dead body still wiggling about despite all the damage. Madison asks, ″What the hell is going on?″ Travis replies, ″I don′t know.″ We certainly know!
Over all, the Fear The Walking Dead premiere was okay as far as pilot episodes go. From all of the commercials aired by AMC-TV leading up to last night, I was expecting a lot more action. Riots in the streets, phalanxes of police and Army troops running about as folks in bio-hazard suits pile up the body bags. But, we didn′t have any of that. Not yet, anyway. This series is a ′summer filler′ type as we await the start of The Walking Dead Season 6 premiere on October 11. So there will only be some 6 episodes until Fear takes a back seat. Given the spoilers, we can expect the chaos to pick up the pace quickly before the mid-season break. So be patient. The Zombie Apocalypse is coming!