Before Fear the Walking Dead premieres, find out what this show’s all about, who are the characters and whether they will be running into the cast of The Walking Dead….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
This Sunday the highly anticipated series Fear the Walking Dead will debut on AMC at 9pm ET and we are here to help you get ready for the six-episode first season by telling you anything and everything you could possibly want to know about the show going into it.
Now, just to be clear anything we are talking about in our preview is spoiler-free meaning there’s nothing specific to any episode or characters you might see make it or not throughout this first season. This is just a primer to give you a little extra information ahead of the debut.
We will dig into the main characters, the plot of the show, what you can expect out of this first season, the timeline for the show and a whole lot more.
So strap in, grab a survival kit and let’s answer all of the burning questions about Fear the Walking Dead
HOW IS THIS SHOW RELATED TO THE WALKING DEAD?
Well it’s related only in two very specific ways — the title of the show (obviously) and the two series exist during the same zombie apocalypse. That’s it.
Fear the Walking Dead isn’t based on any previously written material from creator Robert Kirkman and there are no comic books to study if you want to get ahead of your friends so you know what’s coming next. Fear the Walking Dead is completely new with characters created specifically for this show.
The universe inside the actual zombie apocalypse is the same but that’s a pretty wide margin to talk about by comparison. The Walking Dead starts out in rural Georgia before getting into Atlanta and back out again. Right now, The Walking Dead is set in Virginia just outside of Washington D.C.
Fear the Walking Dead is set in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas for the city.
“I sat down with Robert the first time he brought this up and he was talking about doing a companion series for the show. From the beginning, Robert wanted a show that was very distinctive and different from the original,” show runner Dave Erickson said. “So instead of Georgia we wanted a major city and the great thing about L.A. specifically is it’s a place of reinvention. It’s a place where people go to become something new and that plays through a lot of our characters.
“We have a lot of people who have done things they’re not proud of and had things done to them and it’s a great location to bring a great character to the story.”
So get ready to meet a whole new crop of people in a brand new place and there won’t be a single mention of Rick Grimes, Michonne, Daryl or anybody else from the main The Walking Dead series.
WHO’S IN CHARGE OF THIS SHOW?
The reason why this question is important is because The Walking Dead went through a few different show runners before finally finding Scott Gimple, who has steered the ship for the past couple of seasons. There’s no doubt that each year under a different show runner has resulted in a different feel for The Walking Dead so the person in charge of the whole series is integral to the story telling and how the show will look once it’s presented on television.
Fear the Walking Dead is led by a guy named Dave Erickson — who most recently was a staff writer for the FX series Sons of Anarchy. So this guy knows how to write, he knows how to approach one of the biggest dramas on television and he sharpened his skills under Kurt Sutter, who is one of the best show runners in the business.
Also besides Erickson, who is the show runner, Fear the Walking Dead will also feature a similar production crew for the main series including special effects wizard and director Greg Nicotero, Gale Anne Hurd and of course Robert Kirkman.
WHAT IS THE PLOT OF THIS SHOW?
Well the plot will eventually be much the same for The Walking Dead in that the group of people we will meet in Fear the Walking Dead are trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, but how they survive and what they do to get there will be completely different.
One of the major differences between the two shows will be the setup for how Fear the Walking Dead kicks off.
The story picks up in Los Angeles around the same time Rick Grimes is getting winged by a bullet after stopping some criminals running from the cops back in Georgia. In other words, the world hasn’t gone to shit just yet.
Fear the Walking Dead will actually explore the first days of the zombie outbreak although there will be no explanation of how the plague started, only that it’s happening and this is just the beginning.
“The audience comes to it knowing what we have in store and it’s this process of watching our characters slowly go the same direction. Because at first glance they don’t know what this is. They don’t assume that these people are dead, they think they’re sick or that they’re on something,” Erickson explained.
“It’s loosely during Rick’s coma. I think Robert’s feeling was Rick was out for four to five weeks and this is two, three, or four weeks of that time.”
So as the first trailer for Fear the Walking Dead teases, everything is fairly normal when the story begins but before long an ‘infection’ begins to spread, the dead rise up and everything goes to hell.
Erickson teases that the full blown panic doesn’t actually set it on Fear the Walking Dead until closer to the end of the first season. There will still be walkers — or as they call them ‘infected’ — but these are the earliest days when the living still out numbered the dead.
“It’s incredibly different. It’s building to a place, we don’t get to the whole apocalypse until later this season,” Erickson said. “That’s not to say we don’t have walkers — we do. That’s not to say that we don’t have action and drive.
“Essentially it starts as a family drama. It affords the opportunity to really anchor the show in this family, in these characters and they see how they fight to survive.”
A FAMILY DRAMA?
Yes, that’s a key element to this new show.
Fear the Walking Dead is based around the 2015 family unit, which means we are meeting two single parents who eventually found their way together and each of them has kids from a previous marriage.
The two main characters are school teachers, which once again brings in an entire different dynamic that The Walking Dead when Rick starts the show as a cop with tons of weapons training already at his disposal. Did your English teacher know how to load a rifle much less aim and shoot it accurately?
These are the problems the characters in Fear the Walking Dead will deal with and it’s going to be interesting to see how it develops.
Now just because this extended family — two parents and three kids — are the main focus of the show, there will be plenty more people joining the fray during the first season. With that, let’s find out who we will be meeting in Fear the Walking Dead.
WHO ARE THE CHARACTERS?
Leading the show will be two main characters — Madison Clark (played by Kim Dickens) and Travis Manawa (played by Cliff Curtis).
They are both high school teachers, who are now involved in a relationship with one another although both have children from previous marriages.
Madison’s husband passed away but she has two teenage kids — Nick (played by Frank Dillane), who you see in the opening sequence of the three minute teaser for the show released by AMC on Thursday. Madison’s daughter is Alicia (played by Alycia Debnam-Carey) and she’s a bit of an overachiever.
Meanwhile, Travis has a son named Chris (played by Lorenzo James Henrie) from his previous marriage to Liza (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez, who you probably know from Orange is the New Black).
The biggest key to remember when talking about Madison and Travis is these two aren’t exactly Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon. As a matter of fact, they are pretty much the exact opposite.
“He’s an optimist. He’s a fixer, he loves to fix things,” Curtis said. “He’s in love with the character Madison. He’s got a beautiful ex-wife and a teenage son. He’s a high school teacher, an English teacher.”
Travis is described as ‘the anti-Rick’ because he’s not a weapons expert and he’s not a natural born leader, which creates even more conflict within the group of people trying to survive this new world.
The two main characters, their kids and Travis’ ex-wife will get the bulk of the attention in the first season but there are a ton of other people joining the show throughout the initial six episodes.
WHAT ABOUT THE ZOMBIES?
One of the coolest parts about Fear the Walking Dead is that the ‘walkers’ in this season of the show will look much, much different than the ones we’ve grown used to seeing in the main series. Decomposition takes time and the walkers we’re going to meet on this show have all just been turned so these are the first days after the zombie outbreak begins.
The appearance of these creatures just turning and eating human flesh will not immediately strike a panic because for the most part, they look just like everybody else. They aren’t rotting corpses traipsing around on severed limbs and charred torsos.
“But they still want to eat you,” Erickson teased.
The zombies will also get a foothold on the world in the early going largely because of disbelief by the general public that this is actually happening. Sensationalized news reports and over the top headlines are part of normal, everyday life now and that will hurt a ton of people who wished they would have paid attention sooner when the outbreak begins.
“You want to believe because we live in a world of instant, sensational media that they’re blowing it out of proportion — but what if they’re not?” Erickson said.
And the zombies — even if freshly turned — are still really, really scary.
“In the beginning, I had a few nightmares because I think I was trying to process what I was going through in the day, like my subconscious was trying to work it out, but it’s been great,” Dickens said about her first days on set working with the undead.
WHAT ABOUT A CROSSOVER?
The natural direction for any spinoff series would be some kind of interaction with the main show that spawned the new one, but that’s not the case with The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.
Unlike the original series, Fear the Walking Dead has no roots in the comic book world so this story could go in any number of directions, but don’t expect that to be east to meet up with Rick Grimes and his band of survivors.
Remember, Fear the Walking Dead takes place in Los Angeles and the original show is currently set up outside Washington D.C. Before the zombie apocalypse that was already about a 38 hour drive. Now imagine trying to navigate through a sea of dead people and scavengers looking to take what you have — it’s easy to believe that no one is going to be making that cross country trip nowadays.
“There are no plans right now to conflate the two stories. As interesting as that would be,” Erickson said. “It would be geographically quite complicated.
“We have two shows that live within the same mythology so you would love them to collide at some point, but there’s no plan to do that yet.”
But if it ever happens, Cliff Curtis certainly hopes he survives long enough to run into Rick Grimes one day.
“I’m dying to meet Rick Grimes,” Curtis said. “I’ve got a bromance going on with the man.”
Don’t miss the debut episode of Fear The Walking Dead this Sunday night at 9pm ET on AMC and then stay tuned for our recaps each and every week through the six-episode first season!