Details have been few and far between so far, but the executive producers behind ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ are finally letting a few things slip….
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ — the spinoff series from the mega-hit show ‘The Walking Dead’ — will debut its six-episode first season this summer and while the pilot has finished filming and the rest of the season is underway, there still haven’t been very many details released.
The show is not based on any of ‘The Walking Dead’ comic books by Robert Kirkman or any characters that have existed in the ‘The Walking Dead’ television universe either.
So let’s run down a few of the major categories and questions you might have about this new series from AMC.
Los Angeles, California — with no immediate plans to venture out further than that area nor will they somehow meet up with the survivors from Rick Grimes’ group currently hold up outside of Washington D.C.
The main characters are Travis (played by Cliff Curtis) and his girlfriend Madison (played by Kim Dickens). They are both school teachers and recently moved in together while combining their families.
Madison has two children — Alicia (played by Alycia Debnam-Carey) who is an overachieving high schooler and a son named Nick (Frank Dillane) who is a college drop out.
Travis also has a son named Chris (played by Lorenzo James Henrie), who resents his father for breaking up with his mother Liza (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez).
One of the key components about this family unit is that they aren’t perfect by any means but Travis and Madison are definitely in this together and they aren’t going to be at odds just for the sake of drama.
“They do love and respect each other,” Kirkman said about the main couple leading the series. “They’re a happy couple, which is something that you don’t see a lot of on cable television these days. Usually cable television focuses on infidelity, love triangles, divorces, marriages breaking down—that’s really the meat and potatoes of the drama we mostly deal with on TV. So having this interesting couple at the core of this show, fighting against the backdrop of civilization crumbling and the zombie apocalypse, really is the core of things”
Two more confirmed characters for season one are Ofelia (played by Mercedes Mason) and her father Daniel (played by Ruben Blades).
WHEN DOES THIS TAKE PLACE?
One of the big parts of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ that separates it from the main series (besides the fact that it takes place across the country) is that the show is set at the very beginning of the zombie plague that basically annihilates the world. In ‘The Walking Dead’, the series starts after Rick Grimes was shot and was in a coma for weeks before waking up and discovering that the whole world had basically ended.
This time around ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ will showcase the start of the zombie apocalypse in a prequel of sorts.
“We are loosely covering the period of time that Rick was in his coma in season one,” show runner Dave Erickson explained. “We’re able to watch and experience the things that he missed. It’s more of a parallel story than a prequel; imagine the opening where Rick gets shot and goes in his coma — that day was probably very close to our day one. We’re playing out the idea of what was going on in the country and the world until he woke up, stepped outside and it’s welcome to the apocalypse. That’s why a “companion piece” has been the phrase used at the network.”
Kirkman explained further when talking about the time line the new series will cover at the beginning.
“We’re very early, but if you think about the way a zombie outbreak would happen, it would happen very organically. It would be happening for a while behind the scenes. In pockets of civilization there would be news stories that didn’t really make sense and didn’t seem connected,” Kirkman said. “And that’s kind of where we pick things up. There are a lot of things on the news, there’s a lot of chatter and paranoia and concern. And yet the vast majority of the population is ignoring these things and talking about their daily lives, and that’s kind of where we pick things up. And things ramp up very quickly from there.”
WILL THERE BE ANSWERS ABOUT HOW THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE STARTED?
The easy answer is no.
Kirkman has stated in virtually every interview he’s done long before the show was created that he had no interest in exploring the actual cause of the zombie uprising. While ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ will start during the first days of the end of the world, don’t expect answers as to why the dead started rising and what caused it.
“I had a couple of early pitches that touched on what you’re referring to and Robert shut me down,” Erickson said. “For him, it’s never been about what caused it; it’s always been about the impact it has on people.
“We’re also trying to show what first is perceived as civic unrest and riots and suddenly we bleed into something that’s wholly unnatural.”
WHAT ABOUT A ‘BIG BAD’ IN SEASON ONE LIKE THE GOVERNOR?
This is another part of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ that the producers of the new show wanted to make separate from the original series. While it’s always interesting to have a main antagonist at the heart of the problems for the characters, the producers behind the new show don’t necessarily see a ‘big bad’ becoming the focal point of every season.
It’s a dramatic machination that certainly works, but in this context the producers behind ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ are looking to do something a little different. They will also avoid the ‘safe haven’ concept that has been a major part of the main show — moving from the farm to the prison to Alexandria, etc — and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ will have a more cinematic feel from season to season.
“The goal for us — it’s not difference for difference’s sake because it works beautifully on The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy was very similar: we introduced a new villain each season and that became the main rail. What’s interesting to me is to try to internalize it as much as possible and create more of a Shane (Jon Bernthal)-Rick dynamic,” Erickson described. “That’s where I find the most interesting problem and I find things more compelling.
“The pattern that we don’t want to do is arriving at the new safe haven and then depending on the safe haven. It works beautifully in the comic book — and there’s always going to be the survival element — but we have some ideas that are going to give us, in terms of location and structure, an opportunity to do a movie a season.”
WHAT ABOUT THE ZOMBIES?!?
Here’s where things get really interesting.
The zombies in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ won’t look like the zombies that you know and love from ‘The Walking Dead’. Remember these people have just turned or are just turning when this show begins so the gradual decay that makes up a large portion of the zombie population hasn’t taken place yet.
That means these zombies will have a unique look, different from the ones we’ve seen on ‘The Walking Dead’.
“Greg Nicotero and his team have definitely come up with a very unique take on our early walkers,” Kirkman said. “It will harken back a little bit to the early days of the first season of The Walking Dead. But there’s also going to be some nuance, and some cool things added in that will give this show a very unique look. So yeah, there’s going to be a lot of differences and definitely a lot of cool things for fans to catch on to, because they’re actually going to see the early days for the first time.”
HOW LONG WILL THIS SHOW LAST?
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ has already been picked up for two seasons over at AMC with the first season lasting just six episodes. Given the success of ‘The Walking Dead’, AMC has to expect big numbers for this new series as well so there’s no telling just how long it might last.
That said, Erickson sees the new series with a finite lens in mind as far as how long the new survivors will last on the show.
“About five or six (seasons),” Erickson said. “The more we dig into it, the more we’ll find. The original show is at least another few seasons based on the material that Robert has written for the comic already, and that serves as a guiding light. I like endings, and — I haven’t discussed this with Robert but I think it’s more of a question for us to discuss when we sit down and really start breaking season two — on Sons, Kurt Sutter had a certain number in his head. He knew there was a certain number of seasons that felt right to him.
“I don’t have a specific set number of seasons in my head right now. I do think that the burden at a certain point, when you cross that 10-year mark … it can be pretty challenging.”
So there you go folks just about everything about ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ compiled into one article. Of course as more details come along we will certainly share them with you in anticipation of the first season debut of the show this summer.