An enjoyable spin-off that in six-episodes feels more like a detailed prologue to building the zombie apocalypse we are familiar with in “The Walking Dead”.
Set in Los Angeles this story depicts the beginning of the end of the world, as a deadly and uncomprehending virus spreads quickly among the helpless population turning them in to flesh eating zombies.
The first season of the anticipated spin-off is complete and the opinions are flying in. I made it a point to not read any of the reviews for the show so I could watch it free of judgement. I was debating on an episode-by-episode review system but opted for a complete season wrap up without any spoilers.
After finishing the short season I finally decided to read some of the critics responses to the show and I would have to disagree with those who slammed this show. Is it as good as “The Walking Dead” absolutely not. There is however some solid potential in what this series can deliver to expand on the world TWD created. You can see the dramatic detail to story-telling that made TWD so great in this show, and for that aspect I feel has the possibility of going on to build an audience of its own, and serve as a true partner to its predecessor.
I really enjoyed how in only six-episodes this first season was able to weave a compelling tale about how the world comes to an end. There were many moments I was frustrated with the characters decision making but when I sat back and thought about it, the overall feel of how an outbreak would begin to spread over the population felt very realistic. There were many plausible scenarios depicted about how the population would react to such a chaotic event as well as a thought provoking examination about how different people would respond.
Many people have bashed the characters that build up the script but other than some somewhat cliche dynamics I feel the cast is well balanced and make up a solid initial group to begin a new show. Besides, for those who find the cast to be too much of a hindrance, just be assured that after a couple more seasons the majority of the main cast will look much different just as the cast continues to evolve in TWD. But as for a starting point for the people we will follow I felt they served their roles well with strong performances delivering a wide range of personalities.
I enjoyed the creation of these characters and how the writing gave them enough depth to gravitate to but still manages to keep their backstories a secret. In the following seasons it will be entertaining to see how Kim Dickens character will use whatever dark past she is keeping suppressed to her advantage as she and the group fight to survive. It will be interesting to see how Cliff Curtis’ character will evolve his optimistically hopeful mentality as the world changes in front of his eyes, and if it will break his spirit.
I also really enjoyed the hardened character of Daniel played by veteran actor Rubén Blades, he was great as the survivalist of the group and really the one who seemed far ahead of everyone in their acceptance of what was happening. Immediately he can sense things are wrong and while he was very unlikable at times he still portrayed someone you would without a doubt want on your side. More than anyone in the cast his character felt closest to the level of readiness as those in TWD and for me this was an appealing addition for the aspect of emotional impact.
Many people have complained about the performance of Frank Dillane, but I for the most part enjoyed it. Dillane clearly seemed to channel Johnny Depp’s character Raoul Duke from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” with his oddball mannerisms. While there is no doubt his character was extremely annoying it was the focal point of his writing and as the seasons progress I think his character will evolve the most. Overall in enjoyed his odd and lethargic performance and feel his being a junkie will create some interesting situations when the group gets deeper into the apocalypse and it will be intriguing to see how he will adapt without his drugs.
Taking into account the fact that as viewers we are five seasons into TWD, accustomed to what life is like with the dead roaming the planet, the decisions and actions of many of the characters felt plausible. Initial thought if Betty across the street got sick would not be that she was an infected zombie that was trying to eat you. This helped me accept some of the character actions as I sat there bewildered to why they weren’t delivering the famous zombie killing head-shot. Overall it was enjoyable to see how the various players in the story adapted to what was happening in their own way and the slow acceptance that the world their know is no more.
As this show progresses I think it will gain some traction and build a strong world of its own. It is rare a spin-off will supersede its predecessor but for what this show had to deliver, I feel it was a success. Sure there were some stereotypical moments with some cliche dynamics but like TWD, there were plenty of emotionally pulling moments that were very well written. The ominous feel of how some went about there lives while others fled was intense, there were also some dramatic moments that really landed when they needed to without going into spoilers. It all added up to creating a show you invest your attention to with a range of characters that people can gravitate around.
FTWD delivers great intrigue and despite some slower episodes early on it all added up to a solid origins to the world of the dead. The way the world comes to an end was delivered with compelling fashion and the stages of military intervention to the ultimate fight or flight mentality was well examined in my opinion. This show takes itself seriously and clearly tries to deliver the same level of quality as TWD and for that aspect I feel this will turn out to be a very fun new series.
– Starring –
Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Mercedes Mason, Lorenzo James Henrie, Rubén Blades, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Patricia Reyes Spínolda, Shawn Hatosy, Sandrine Holt, Colman Domingo
– Created By –
Dave Erickson & Robert Kirkman
Episode Count: 6