Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: Fear the Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2

Title: Fear the Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2
Starring: Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Episodes: 21

AMC has made another hit show with The Walking Dead and has added it to one of its most successful series along with Breaking Bad. The show successfully kept fans of the comic and newcomers interested by altering and slightly deviating from the source material, but still maintaining the essence of it. Like Breaking Bad, the creators figured out a way to expand the universe further and show us a different timeline through this spin-off series, Fear the Walking Dead.

Set initially in Los Angeles, California, the series follows a dysfunctional family composed of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark, her English teacher boyfriend Travis Manawa, her daughter Alicia, her drug-addicted son Nick, and Travis' son from a previous marriage, Chris, at the onset of the zombie apocalypse.[7][8] They must revamp themselves to survive, as they come to terms with the impending collapse of civilization. [Source: Wikipedia]

When the series was being marketed, I was kinda skeptical and wondering why they would be making a spin-off. Clearly, the answer was obvious, which is that The Walking Dead is a very successful series and they created Better Call Saul, so why not? The other reason may be to hold fans over for the next season or perhaps distract us from the long wait from winter to fall. The marketing strategy for this series took an interesting route by providing snippets of Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462 on AMC and offering full episodes of the webseries on their site. I can't comment too much on them as I never put the effort into watch what happens next with each commercial submission, but it was fun wondering what was going on and connecting the two to the franchise we've grown to love. I'm assuming the webseries also warmed up fans to the pre-apocalyptic world that we'll be exposed to in the spin-off in a slightly different scenario.

When it comes to a new show, you either immediately get hooked, immediately know you're going to not enjoy it, or know that you might have to sit through a few episodes to figure out if you want to stick around or not. It's been so long since The Walking Dead came out that I don't really remember my first impressions of the show. Obviously, from season to season, I became hooked along with some of my friends and my mom. My mom and I started reading the comics not too long after, although right now she's very much ahead of me. The first season of the show was a mere six episodes long mom and I weren't super into it. I think Ophelia was on the same boat as well. While the show wasn't boring in the least, it was something that we needed to get used to with a new set of characters, so I kept my mind open and gave the second season a chance. It would also give me an opportunity to learn more of the characters' names too, which usually is a bad sign for me. Well, maybe not bad, but it's definitely not completely good. The first season felt like an introduction to our new group of characters and a chance for viewers to adjust to this world before walkers threatened humanity. Unfortunately, a lot of these characters lacked likability, which I think is the main reason my mom and I had difficulty getting into it. Nonetheless, I was open to giving the show another chance through the second season as we only had six episodes to gather our bearings.

As soon as The Walking Dead left us a giant cliffhanger or dramatic ending to a huge opening, it was time for the placeholder to reappear. Coming into this new season, I really wanted to like this show and I was hoping that it wouldn't disappoint. Like the first season, it was a little slow and I still was learning character names. Things became a little more interesting when the show finally tied together its webseries with the survivors. Hopefully, we will see these characters again in another season as I really liked Alex. Once they made it to Mexico, the show finally kept my interest. I was seeing similarities to previous seasons of The Walking Dead and I was intrigued and even worried about certain characters. By the time of the mid-season finale, I was surprisingly curious and perhaps a bit excited to see where the story was going to go next. The first half offered a lot of interesting information and delved into the characters even more...granted there were still a small few that I didn't care for. I felt like the characters were trying to learn about themselves at the same time as the viewers. This was a changing world that required some immediate evolution on their part.

Once the second half began, I had many questions, especially after the group split up in a foreign country. Nick was trying to find his place in the world, Travis and Chris are trying to figure out their relationship, and the rest of the group are simply trying to survive among each other. Delving into these three distinct groups was quite the entertaining journey. The second half definitely proved that there is hope in second chances. I learned character names and became attached to some of them, during each obstacle they had to face. By the end of the season, my jaw dropped at the twists and turns that were thrown at us on the final two episodes. Now I can confidently say that I'm excited for what the third season has in store for us. We have a few new characters to the group, some major conflicts that need to be resolved, and the big question of a group reunion.

Fear the Walking Dead is a series I'm still a bit skeptical about, but the second season has made me optimistic and curious what the creators have waiting for us. The characters can start off as being unlikable or lack personality, but the second season redeems itself by having more time to develop, engage, and react to them. The story also begins to tap a little into the same tone as The Walking Dead, but maintains its own style as well. Although, the show has definitely shown some improvement with its story and characters, it hasn't quite gotten to the point of "addiction" as TWD. I think if the improvements continue and the pacing picks up just a tiny bit, I can see it being pretty close to its predecessor. According to Wikipedia, Fear the Walking Dead has been renewed for a third season and will be airing on AMC in 2017.

Rating: 3.5/5

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