So: the big day has arrived. ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ has had its first episode. Is it going to be as compelling as the original, or is it a pale imitation?
The episode started with a junkie waking up in an abandoned church. He calls out for someone named Gloria. Searching the desecrated church, he finds a dead body. Then he located the girl— who has become a walker and is chewing on the flesh of another dead body.
Panicked as the girl-walker prepares to attack him, the junkie flees out onto the street and into oncoming traffic, where he is hit by a car.
The junkie, as it turns out, is Nick, the son of Maddie, a high school guidance counselor currently living in sin with a teacher named Travis. Maddie freaks when she hears how her junkie son was raving when found.
It’s clear that Nick has encountered one of the earliest walkers in his area— but who’s going to believe the word of a junkie? Travis visits the church, which is a hangout for druggies, and does not find bodies— but does find a large blood stain.
This new Walking Dead series starts out at the very beginning of the zombie epidemic, when life is still essentially normal. Or as normal as it can possibly get in Los Angeles. This is in contrast to the original series which begins with Rick waking up in a hospital which is overrun with walkers.
I think it is a bit too early to judge the new series, but my first impression is that the characters don’t seem quite as compelling as the ones from the original series. Perhaps it is in part the Los Angeles setting. The original series has the advantage of being set in the real world (or what is left of it) rather than in the fantasyland/fairyland of Los Angeles. Who can take seriously characters in this setting?
For Christians there are certain concerns. First, the desecrated church. I’m sure that the producers of the series will claim it is just a coincidence, but the setting of a church with a fallen cross in the center, abandoned first to junkies and then to walkers, seems all of a part with the other series which paints no good picture of Christians. In the Walking Dead world, Christianity is at best a weakness, at worst the motivator of a skunk such as ‘Father’ Gabriel, the fallen Episcopal priest.
I am wondering if there was some sort of pressure against the original series for being too family-and-marriage oriented— Rick Grimes was married with kids, Carol was married with a daughter, there was Herschel’s family…. not very politically correct these days. At any rate the new series is centered on two single parents in a living-in-sin relationship. The people running the show describe them as a ‘blended family’ but actually at this point it’s just two fragmented families joined by the parents’ illicit relationship. (And the mom is a high school guidance counselor— which shows the true hell of Los Angeles and the rest of California, even before the walkers are added to the scene.)
In spite of the flaws— some of which are present in most entertainment these days— I think this series has potential. We will have to wait and watch a few more episodes to make a full evaluation.
Have you seen Fear the Walking Dead? What are your impressions? Will you continue to watch the show? Could it become as good as the original?