Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead

When I first heard AMC was making a prequel series* to The Walking Dead, my response was "ugh." The show is insanely popular so of course we need to milk that teat until it's completely dry.

After giving it some more thought,** I realized there is actually a good story to tell here. The Walking Dead picks up after the the zombie apocalypse has already occurred. We, the viewer, see the show through Rick Grimes' eyes, and his initial confusion and lack of information adds to the feeling of dread and unease we experience. The Walking Dead has never explained the events that led up to the collapse of civilization; we don't know where or how things started, how quickly the world fell apart, how the government responded, when things went to....well, to put it bluntly, went to shit.

So then I was excited for Fear the Walking Dead. I was hoping it would fill in some of the gaps and give some more information about the virus, which to me is the most interesting part of The Walking Dead's story. I was also hoping that the show would learn from some of the elements of TWD that didn't quite work--such as the family drama bullshit with Rick, Lori, and Carl. Oh, I'm sorry. I mean, "Caaaaaaaaaaarl!"

Alas, no. Because the public was definitely crying out for more family drama.

I don't want to say I'm disappointed in FWD exactly. It's great to look at, the acting is top notch (especially from Kim Dickens whom I loved in Deadwood), and it's very effective at building tension. Just like people used to say you had to watch Doctor Who from behind the couch, FWD sometimes makes me want to peek out from behind my fingers because I don't think I can handle what is going to happen next.

And that is what makes it all so monumentally frustrating that almost every single one of these characters is completely and utterly stupid.

Stories like this only work if you like the characters. You have to care what is going to happen to them. And it's hard to have your audience care about people who are TOTAL FUCKING MORONS.

Maybe FWD takes place in a world where George Romero never existed. Where Night of the Living Dead, World War Z, and the whole zombie genre never existed. Maybe these people don't have any reference for the undead shambling around craving brains. But there is nothing in this series (or TWD for that matter) to establish this as an alternate universe following those rules and I am not letting the showrunners off that easy. To leave it to the third episode before even one single person proffers that the infected are actually dead, to have no character even mention the word "zombie," defies belief and makes it seem as if all these people are brain-dead themselves.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but the more I think and write about this the madder I get. Seriously. All these characters have already seen the infected stumbling around, appear as if corpses, get shot MULTIPLE TIMES and keep going, feast on the flesh of the living, and they are still standing around asking, "what is going on?" I can't. even. handle. it. Just having one character say, "Hey, maybe it's zombies" and then everyone can shoot him/her down about how that is so implausible, only happens in movies, etc. would placate me. But no. Instead they sit around looking shocked and dismayed and trying to convince each other that we shouldn't destroy the neighbor's brain because there IS STILL A CHANCE HE CAN BE CURED. Even though we just caught him snacking on someone's dog and is actively trying to kill everyone in the house.

Flames. On the sides of my face.

But I guess the sickest part is I still want to see what happens next. At the end of the third episode the National Guard shows up and seems to be doing well with putting down the infection. So I still want to see how it all goes to shit.

But if all these people survive the season I am giving up. Because there is no way people this dumb would survive the zombie apocalypse. Zombies? I have no trouble with that. But these characters all surviving will defy even my ability to suspend belief.

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9:00PM EST on AMC.

*Oh, excuse me, a COMPANION series. Whatever, AMC.

*I'll have you know I spent a good 10 seconds of brain power on this topic.

No comments: