Little fear, excessive talk in “Fear the Walking Dead”

Eric Ahern

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 AMC’s horror drama “Fear the Walking Dead” premiered on August 23 to a record-shattering debut audience of 10.1 million viewers, but left me unsatisfied.

The so-called companion series to the AMC megahit “The Walking Dead” takes place in modern day Los Angeles and follows an incredibly dysfunctional family as they do their best to survive the beginning of a worldwide zombie epidemic.

“Fear” opens with a compelling introduction scene, when protagonist Nick Clark wakes up from a drug-induced slumber in an abandoned church to find a zombified friend consuming the innards of a fellow junkie. It was the kind of exhilarating scene that “Fear the Walking Dead” was expected to produce, but the remainder of the 90-minute premiere moved slowly, featuring dialogue reminiscent of a soap opera, and worst of all, had minimal zombie attacks.

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“Fear the Walking Dead” stars (from left to right): Kim Dickens (Madison), Cliff Curtis (Travis), Alycia Debnam-Carey (Alicia), and Frank Dillane (Nick.)

The show has been long anticipated by “Walking Dead” fans hoping for a chance to finally learn how the world spiraled into zombie-ridden anarchy, but so far we are still confused on what started the epidemic. Rather than giving fans a scientific explanation for the approaching apocalypse, “Fear” focuses on the struggles of a single family as they deal with the world’s descent into madness.

Instead of the intense, stomach-turning gore that all zombie fans know and love, the pilot of “Fear the Walking Dead” was defined by a sluggishly moving plot composed of stiff dialogue, making the show feel like more of a CBS drama than an AMC horror.

The pilot was centered around four of the program’s main protagonists who make up a mixed family with some serious trust issues.

Cliff Curtis, who appeared in blockbuster films such as “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Training Day,” is Travis Manawa, a middle aged high school English teacher who is constantly attempting to establish a good relationship with the children of his fiancé, Madison.

Kim Dickens, who was featured in “The Blind Side,” stars as Madison Clark, a guidance counselor at Travis’ high school who is not afraid to go the extra mile to look out for her students and for her own children.

Frank Dillane plays Madison’s adult son Nick Clark, a drug addict junkie with a bad habit of running away from home and getting himself into sticky situations.

Alycia Debnam-Carey is Madison’s honor student daughter, Alicia Clark, who spent the majority of the pilot episode discussing her bright and successful future with her boyfriend, Matt. Any fan of “The Walking Dead” might be able to predict that things might not exactly work out the way Alicia and Matt have planned…

Even though the premise is strong and the creators (which are the same for the show’s sister series), have proved their abilities to run a critically acclaimed zombie program time and time again, the pilot episode of “Fear” would leave any “Walking Dead” fan asking for less dialogue and more undead carnage.

Based off the pilot episode, it doesn’t seem as if “Fear the Walking Dead” will be able to live up to the expectations that are being demanded of it. However, if the plot quickens and the anticipated gory content is featured, “Fear” has the potential to become a show nearing the level of greatness that its companion series has achieved.

“Fear the Walking Dead” airs on AMC on Sunday nights at 9 p.m.