'Fear the Walking Dead' Review

Viewers will be happy to know the first opening scene starts out with blood, gore and a zombie as the 19-year old Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), a drug addict, awakes from this drug induced sleep in an abandoned and dilapidated church, only to find blood all over the floor and walls. We won’t spoil the rest, but that sets up how we meet the blended family the show will follow.

Nick ends up in the hospital where his mother Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), her live-in boyfriend Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his teen sister Alicia come to visit the estranged son who can’t seem to beat the drug addiction. Travis, played by Cliff Curtis (“Gang Related,” Training Day), is the patriarch of the group. He’s got his own family drama with his ex-wife, Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and rebellious teen son, Christopher (Lorenzo James Henrie) making his life a little more complicated.

The first episode deals primarily with the family drama and getting to know these individuals while unexplained incidents of violence in the city serves as the backdrop. As a viewer, we have the advantage of knowing what’s to come while the characters have no clue. The decisions these characters make often had this viewer nervous because they are walking into a potentially dangerous situation unprepared.

Fear the Walking Dead cast - Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Ruben Blades, Elizabeth Rodriguez

A lot more of the action happens in the second episode airing August 30. While the family deals with keeping Nick clean during his withdrawal, the city is falling apart  and the “sick people” are being gunned down by police. Travis ventures out to find his son, as mass protest over police brutality causes further havoc. Inserting that reality into the story makes the show more compelling because in this case, we know police brutality is warranted to survive. Having that inside information as a viewer makes it so much more interesting.

In the finale of the second episode, we meet a third family with their own issues and secrets, played by Ruben Blades, Mexican actress Patricia Reyes Spindola and Mercedes Mason. How this group will survive as the city goes down in flames makes it compelling television.

Some WALKING DEAD fans may complain about the lack of zombie kills in the first few episodes of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, but like the WALKING DEAD, human relations is what really makes the shows intruguing. The undead only serve as a backdrop.

We’re also loving that the female lead played by Kim Dickens is being set up as a leader along with actor Cliff Curtis. Both actors create strong and believable characters that we care about, and are interested in seeing evolve as the virus escalates.

The casting and location scouting also deserve props. As a native Angeleno, it’s nice to see familiar places that are not often seen in movies and television. Shot it El Sereno (east of downtown LA), the sites bring an authentic feel to the story while casting it with faces you’d normally see in the largely Hispanic area, adds a bit more reality to FEAR THE WALKING DEAD.

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD premieres Sunday, August 23 on AMC at 9pm.


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