To cleanse the palate, an ICYMI from Comic Con this weekend. “Fear the Walking Dead” is AMC’s attempt to franchise TWD, an immense ratings juggernaut. Why give up easy money when “The Walking Dead” is on hiatus when the network could keep milking the cash cow by producing another show, set during the same zombie apocalypse, with a new cast? Here’s the result. My first impression is cautiously, and uncharacteristically, optimistic for the simple reason that the show’s set in a city, an unusual twist for the zombie genre. We’ve had urban interludes in TWD — Rick’s early entrance into Atlanta, the CDC finale in season one — but most of the show takes place in rural locales, just like George Romero’s original zombie classic did. I assume it’s a simple matter of money and logistics: Horror productions traditionally haven’t had big budgets, and zombie productions in particular sometimes require dozens or hundreds of extras. Blocking off parts of a city like L.A., where FTWD is set, costs more than blocking off parts of the woods in Georgia — but thanks to TWD’s success, that may be money well spent for AMC.
The ballsy way to do a sequel to TWD would have been to make it non-episodic, with no fixed location or cast. Focus on different facets of the zompocalypse in different places affecting different people from week to week. A premise this rich doesn’t need a recurring cast; it’s the scenario that’s fascinating, not the individual characters. (I wrote more about that here.) Short of that, though, a city’s a smart pick for a sequel just because the claustrophobia is a natural fit for a zombie drama. Arguably the single best zombie sequence ever produced was the first few minutes of “Dawn of the Dead,” when Roger’s SWAT team raids a Philly tenement and the scene collapses into chaos — cops and residents firing at each other from room to room, zombies on the stairs taking chunks out of people’s arms and shoulders. It’s madness, which tends to happen with close quarters and lots of people. As long as they keep FTWD inside the city and keep the pace moving, they should be okay. My misgiving about the trailer is … the teenagers. Teenager storylines in any genre are almost always hackneyed and the acting is usually bad, as Carl’s pubescent angst on TWD frequently reminds us. A love-among-the-ruins teen romance seems almost guaranteed, the thought of which gives me gas. Almost nothing good can come of this. Zombie-chow these kids asap, for the love of mike.
Below that you’ll find a second trailer, a preview of the new season of TWD itself. Looks like we’re headed for a Rick/Morgan battle of the alpha males. Winner gets Daryl in the Alexandria championship round, maybe?