April 10, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Fear the Walking Dead”



AMC’s eccentric decision to keep its Walking Dead assembly line going with a not-quite-prequel has become even more so in Season 2, which places the Season 1 survivors on a yacht owned by one of them, the rich and enigmatic Strand (Colman Domingo), hovering off the coast of Southern California.  This puts the show at cross-purposes with what were originally announced as its goals:  to provide a more urban setting than Walking Dead, and via its earlier timeline, to present a more detailed account of how the zombie epidemic destroyed the world.

Instead, we have 8 not terribly interesting people more or less marooned from the rest of society.  Apart from Strand, they consist of three groups with family links:  former high school guidance counselor Madison (Kim Dickens) and her teens Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey); Madison’s boyfriend Travis (Cliff Curtis) and his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie); and the older Daniel (Ruben Blades) and his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason). They have their tensions, particularly from the high-strung Chris (in his defense, his father shot his mother in the Season 1 finale to keep her from turning zombie) and the amoral and perhaps untrustworthy Strand.

The season’s first hour, written by co-creator Dave Erickson and directed by Adam Davidson, is mostly a place-setter, with little in the way of scares despite some floating walkers in the last act.  It’s clear that as with Walking Dead, much of the plotting will come from the protagonists doing dumb things, with Alicia taking the honors in the opener by trusting a seemingly sympathetic voice on the radio with their location, and compounding the mistake by not telling anyone else about the menacing “I’ll see you soon” that was his parting message to her.

If the dynamic of Fear is going to be interspersing lots of time at sea for the characters to argue morality and get on each others’ nerves, with visits to derelict vessels that have hidden zombies aboard and some attacks from pirates, it’s quickly going to feel like The Last Ship without the high-tech storyline and the high-powered action.  One can only hope that the scripts provide some decent material for Dickens and Curtis, who so far haven’t gotten to do much with their talents.  (Fans of Debnam-Carey, for their part, may well wish that if she had to randomly die on one of her series, it had been here rather than on The 100, considering that she’s been demoted from warrior queen to ordinary teenager.)

Although Fear‘s Season 1 ratings weren’t close to its mothership’s, the Walking Dead branding was more than enough to make it a solid hit, and that’s likely to continue this season.  Considering the wrong turns Walking Dead made toward the end of its own past season, it may not be too much to ask that Fear make better decisions with its waterbound heroes.

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."