April 16, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Fear the Walking Dead”



Each season of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD has been somewhat different from the one before, with a setting that shifted from Los Angeles to somewhere off the coast of Mexico to various locations in Mexico itself, frequent deaths of major characters, and a tone that found protagonist Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) evolving amidst the zombie plague from high school guidance counselor to steely killer.

None of that, however, was at the level of the new Season 4 overhaul for the somewhat underperforming series.  Original showrunner and series co-creator Dave Erickson has been moved out, and replaced with new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg (both Once Upon A Time veterans; Goldberg was also co-creator of Freeform’s short-lived Dead of Summer).  The action now takes place in Texas, and there’s been a time jump from an undefined period at the start of the apocalypse to sometime after the events of The Walking Dead‘s Season 8.  The cast now includes Garrett Dillahunt, Maggie Grace, Jenna Elfman (soon)–and most importantly, Lennie James as his Walking Dead Morgan character, the first crossover between the two shows.

It’s impossible to tell from the Season 4 premiere, written by Chambliss, Goldberg and Walking Dead Executive Producer Scott M. Gimple, how the remnants of the original Fear will mesh with the new elements, since none of the core Fear cast even appeared in the premiere until the last 3 minutes.  The opening hour instead operated almost as a re-pilot, centering entirely on Morgan and Althea (Grace) and John (Dillahunt), with a sprinkling of Walking Dead characters in the opening act to ease the transition.

When we concluded Walking Dead‘s Season 8, Morgan was suffering an existential crisis, and despite supportive visits from that show’s Rick, Carol and Jesus, he soon set out on foot from Virginia to Texas, where he encountered John, who was longing for human companionship , and Althea, who was endeavoring to create video journalism about life after the end of the world, despite the fact that the news media no longer existed.  In the course of the hour, Morgan’s stony desire for solitude thawed as the trio fought off zombies and human villains together and began to bond, only to run into our Fear cast at the very end, who may have become a gang of bandits (or not).

James has been one of the strongest presences on Walking Dead, and Dillahunt and Grace are reliable TV leads, so the new Fear won’t suffer from a lack of talent.  It seems a curious choice by episode director John Polson to shoot in color so desaturated that it was closer to black and white, and we’ll see if the show’s visual scheme remains that extreme going forward.  The bigger question will be what the vision for the newly expanded series is going to be, and whether Chambliss and Goldberg can avoid the narrative monotonousness that has haunted both Walking Dead series.  That’s the real cliffhanger to be resolved over the next several weeks.





About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."