January 4, 2016
About the author : Project manager by day, crazy cat lady by night. Emily's first love is J.R.R. Tolkien. She's also into Walking Dead, video games, Doctor Who, and anime. When she isn't knee-deep in her latest fandom, she's usually sleeping.
I was definitely late to The Walking Dead party–I only started watching this past summer. (I did get through all five seasons within six weeks, but that’s another story.) When I heard about Fear the Walking Dead, I was mildly interested. Of course AMC will do everything they can to try to replicate the success of a popular show like TWD. I was unsure if that was possible. Spoiler warning.
I tried honestly to be open to the show. That was challenging, considering the marketing.
That shirt though. And this is compelling how?
Even apart from the marketing, I’ll admit a lack of interest in the subject matter. I don’t really care to see people grappling with their new reality again. The pilot of TWD did an exceptional job of introducing the viewer to the new world through Rick’s eyes. While there could definitely be some interesting stories there, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat waiting to see them.
But I really did try. I just couldn’t like FTWD.
Even apart from the marketing, there were some shallow reasons I didn’t like it. First, who thought it would be a good idea to have so many teenagers in the show? It’s not particularly interesting watching angry teens get angry about zombies. Or angry at their parents. Or angry at each other. Maybe I’m just getting crabby as I age, but it’s kind of annoying.
Speaking of me being crabby, I had a really hard time getting past Travis’s face. Not that there’s anything wrong with him or how he looks. I just kept thinking about Fire Lord Ozai in the disaster that was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.
FTWD moves really quickly in some ways and really slowly in other ways. The show definitely assumes you’ve seen TWD and makes you wait for the walkers. There were moments when I felt like I was watching Shaun of the Dead tease me about zombies before they actually appear.
Not that I’m necessarily complaining about the slower pace. It’s a valid decision for the creators to make. However, when you compare the build-up with how quickly most of the characters seem to adapt to their new surroundings, it is odd.
One of the things that annoyed me the most was towards the end. In an attempt to save their loved ones from the military compound, the group decides to lead a bunch of walkers straight to the compound. But how would they know they walkers would follow? How would they know they could out-run them? It was such a risky move–so risky that Rick making the same decision in the current season of The Walking Dead is considered crazy. If he’s pushing the envelope, then it’s sheer insanity for Daniel to attempt it!
My real problem is the lack of moral ambiguity. Watching characters wrestle with their surroundings and the choices they have to make is why TWD is so compelling. Most of the characters in FTWD, however, are very sure of themselves. While I can go on at length about different characters the biggest problem was the Lieutenant.
Full disclosure, I am very supportive of the U.S. Military. I’m inclined to get annoyed when members of the military are portrayed in a negative light, but I do understand that not everyone is perfect. I would also fully expect a show set in LA to be more anti- than pro-military. (I was born and raised in southern California, so I am familiar with the political climate.)
But Lieutenant Moyers is in a class by himself.
Really? Really. This guy is so heartless that he plays golf while society is crumbling around him? He cares so little for people that he’ll force his men to go back out in the field after they’ve been on their feet for over 24 hours? He’s so cruel that he forces Travis to kill a walker when Travis is clearly uncomfortable with it?
It’s just lazy storytelling. The Lieutenant had to be the bad guy, so they gave him zero redeeming–or even remotely human–qualities. As much as I hate the Governor, at least you saw his deep love for his daughter and his hope that he could one day save her. TWD even makes you feel some pity for merciless cannibals.
This is not to say that all of the characters are poorly written. I actually quite like Daniel Salazar, even though his perspective on life is pretty black and white. I don’t mind his cut-throat attitude because there’s a reason for it. He experienced heinous acts. He survived by taking and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, so of course he’s going to rely on that worldview to get him through this mess. Is he a good person? Certainly not. Does his character make sense? Definitely.
Which leads me to another unique element of FTWD that I find quite interesting: Nick. Caring for a drug addict while the world is coming to an end makes life that much harder. It’s an interesting difficulty for the group to endure, one that has never been explored in TWD. When you think about it, pretty much all of the characters in TWD are–or were at one time–decent people. I’m not trying to say that Nick is evil, but he certainly isn’t living an upright life even before the world ends.
I will also say that FTWD does a good job of avoiding manufactured drama between the split families. While there is a little tension between Madison and Liza, it isn’t any where near as bad as it could be. Well done.
One other great element of Fear the Walking Dead. TOBIAS.
Seriously, this kid is smarter than all the rest of the characters put together. If I had my way, he would show up in Alexandria as the lone survivor of LA. We shall see.
Overall, I can’t say FTWD was worth my time. I might watch the first episode or two of the second season, but I’m on the fence about that. It’s possible the show may pick up (Strand is definitely a fascinating character), but I’m not too hopeful. Thankfully TWD is still amazing this season, so I’m satisfied.
P.S. I thought I published this two months ago. Oh, well. Better very late than never.