Starring: Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Mercedes Mason, Frank Dillane, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Lorenzo James Henrie, Ruben Blades, Alycia Debham-Carey
Remember the days when The Walking Dead actually dealt with human issues, like addiction, or “I don’t like my new daddy?” and “Why isn’t my boyfriend texting me back?”
Of course not. Because The Walking Dead has much more serious shit to deal with than some teenage girl who needs to get with the program, fast, before she becomes walker bait. And honestly, after the first episode, either Alicia is going to have one hell of a character arc, or she’s gotta die. Her attitude is just not ready for what’s to come, and she’s by far the weakest of the ensemble we were introduced to in the two hour pilot. Of course, there are other characters we’ll see in later episodes, but right now… Alicia. Just awful.
We spent most of the episode following drug addicted Nick around, and he seems to now have a general understanding of what’s going on. When your most interesting character, and most potential bad ass is the guy battling addiction and the voices inside his head, your show has problems.
That’s really why I sat on this review, because I needed a breath from “OMG MORE WALKING DEAD” to process what actually just happened. I absolutely am down for the premise of showing us how the whole thing started, and from the “coming soon on Fear The Walking Dead” at the end, we can see shit gets real fast. And that’s good, because there isn’t a single Daryl in the mix. We’re following teachers and teenagers around. At best, we’ve got a Carol waiting to burst out, but no Daryl, and certainly no Rick Grimes. But, those were two people with survival instincts already built in. Mischonne and Carol just learned to be badasses because of their environment. Presumably, that’s what’s going to happen here. I have high hopes for Travis as our leading man. He’s going to need to pull it together, and get his family to safety fast. As we’ve learned from TWD, being in the city is not a good place to be during the zombie apocalypse.
Right now, I don’t actually care about any of the characters, which is the shows big problem. I kinda care about Travis and Nick, and maybe just a tad about Madison and Liza (only because I like the actresses playing them), but if Alicia died in the next episode I honestly wouldn’t care. Travis’s whiny son Chris could bite it too, and I wouldn’t bat an eye. Right now, if Daryl and Rick came across these survivors, they’d probably wonder how they survived at all.
The original pilot for The Walking Dead was incredible, and really hit the ground running. This show is aiming to start at a slow trot, and work to possibly a brisk walk. A power walk, if you will. As a fan of The Walking Dead, I can’t see myself not giving this show a chance, but in the grand scheme I can’t help but feel mildly disappointed. Most of the characters are unlikable right now, especially to TWD fans who are always on the lookout for the next hero with a gun/sword/chainsaw. If you look at everyone’s favorite characters out of The Walking Dead, it’s usually based on some level of badassery. Here? It’s really based on the actor in the role, and how much I liked the last thing they did.
At least Tobias knew to carry a knife. At least he tried.
And what’s up with the indifference to actually calling someone a zombie? I mean, even jokingly. The girls watching the video could have at least said “It’s like he’s a zombie or something.” I remember (in real life) when people were eating faces off while on bath salts, and even then people were jumping to the conclusion that the zombie apocalypse was real and imminent. Somehow, in this world, zombie is so far removed from the dialogue that the teenagers can’t even joke about the possibility? Come on.
It wasn’t a great pilot, but it has a lot of good will from the original show. Unlike a lot of haters, I’m actually not going to hammer the show for the slow burn approach. I’m actually 100% OK with going this route. But, you have to give me a reason to want these characters to live, and they have to seem more realistic and less annoying than they currently are. If you can’t do that, kill them all at the end of the season, and start season 2 with a new cast… and hopefully some actually interesting characters.
FINAL GRADE: B-