Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Do Not Fear The Walking Dead!
When I first heard of a spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead from the wildly popular AMC series of a similar name,I feared the worst, a trendy attempt at extracting a tiny bit more juice from that cash cow before it finally topples in popularity. I had low expectations, but I was wrong.
The show is everything I like in undead entertainment, in that it barely has any zombies and instead wisely focuses on the people who are confronted with the utter and surprisingly swift collapse of civilized order as the dead begin to rise up and throw a monkey wrench into society. For the first time in quite a while we have a zombie tale in which character and plot are discussed and examined in lieu of yet one more crash seminar on how to use corn syrup judiciously to get a nifty blood effect.
We meet a blended family in Los Angeles who count among their number a middle class teacher father who divides his loyalties between his tough-minded teacher girlfriend and his former wife and son and his girlfriend's two children one of whom is a drug addict. We then meet another family, a barber and his family, immigrants from Central America who have secrets which come in mighty handy during the apocalypse.
These are intensely and specifically drawn characters who are faced with daily choices that beggar the imagination and who either rise up to the occasion or fall victim to the tide of destruction which is just a few blocks away.
The creators of this show have dialed in a real sense of what the military might be called upon to do in such an emergency and how that being comprised of mere men they might fall short of the ideal. The threat, which we follow from its earliest days is at first misunderstood save by a prescient few and instead becomes a wave of utter and terrifying destruction.
The worst of human beings is on display in these episodes as selfishness, torture, and luck seem to be the way to move forward and compassion appears to be almost always a weakness. The show successfully challenges our understanding of society and points up the human failings which are all too available to us when we least need them.
In the world of the zombie apocalypse, good guys usually finish last. But you don't stop rooting for them. Sadly I'm sure as the zombie count increases (as it did in the finale) the show's grasp on reality will continue to falter and the show will become more like its predecessor, a mistake I fear will steal its singular nature.