FTWD: What Can We Expect?

Fear The Walking Dead gets started next month and Caroline and I are excited to to what Robert Kirkman, Gale Ann Herd, Greg Nicotero and the rest are cooking up for us. Excited and a little apprehensive might be a better way to describe it.

What we’re excited about:

More Walking Dead! The original series is so well done and there’s no reason to think that this spin-off will be anything less than the quality we’ve come to expect from the Walking Dead brand. The executive producers are pretty much the same, with one important difference I’ll mention below.

It’s a prequel! We might get to find out more about the plague that has infected all of mankind and turns all of us into zombies upon our deaths. This -can- be dangerous territory, but as long as its not midichlorians, I think we’ll be ok.

What we’re apprehensive about:

Scott Gimple already has a job, and it’s not on this show! Taking up the reins as showrunner is Sons of Anarchy alum Dave Erickson. Now, Sons of Anarchy was a fine show that never went easy on viewers when it came time to depict a little of the old ultraviolence. However, of all the cable shows I’ve sampled (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and Mad Men among that number), SOA was the first that lost my interest after I’d given it about 10 shows. Whether it was a lead actor that never seemed bad-ass enough to be crown-prince of a biker gang or that super cheesy opening sequence, the show just never grabbed on permanently.

The show could become a committee-run, group-think platform that tries to please too many people at once! That’s a mean-spirited sounding mouthful, isn’t it? All I mean to say is that this show, in some way, already seems like a way for the producers to address some of the non-story, more viewer-related issues that audience held against the show: things like racial mix of the survivors (and the dead too). Executive producer Gale Ann Hurd has tried to address the race issue by saying that they’re always aware of it and really just try to hire the best actors they can find. Despite the creators’ intentions, there are bloggers out there that keep running tabs on the racial mix of the show and decry any imbalance that slights their favored group. FTWD seems to want to tackle that problem right off the bat by creating a cast of likely season one survivors where Caucasians are a minority (I’m basing that off the number of episodes credited to various actors on imdb.com). I don’t have a problem with representing a true racial mix of the group’s city of origin (but you could argue LA was chosen specifically for this mix). I do have a problem with setting a precedent of having a wishy-washy direction for the show’s narrative and identity. If it’s true that this group will at some point meet up with Rick’s survivors, are we going to go on a whirlwind tour of Native-American reservations, so that we can mix in that oft-overlooked ethnic group too, as we head east?

This show will have all-new content! One feature of the original series that can be overlooked is that it is drawing from a well of audience-tested material. Although they rarely draw directly from the comic books in an unaltered form, they still have years of settings, characters, situations, plots, ideas and concepts that have been printed, read and critiqued. It’s almost like they’ve hedged their bets by re-purposing that comic book stuff the way they’ve been doing- and it works great! Viewership seems to rise every year as more people adopt the show that never before would have considered themselves zombie-fiction fans. FTWD isn’t going to have that Back-To-The-Future sports betting guide to go by for their ideas. Just the guy that made the motorcycle show I never finished.

In all, I don’t really doubt FTWD’s future as one of my favorite shows. I just have a couple concerns going into the deal is all I want to get across.

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