Cast/Production: Prequel to the walking dead, chronicling the first outbreak of the zombie virus. This features an all-new cast: Madison (mother), Travis (her boyfriend, who has an ex-wife and son), Alicia (daughter) and Nick (drug-addict son). We also get to meet Travis’ other family, and the Salazars, whom band together with Madison’s family for the moment.
Plot – Episode 1: Introduction to the main cast – Drug addict Nick sees his girlfriend-turned zombie, gets knocked down and later escapes from hospital; his dealer turns into zombie.
Episode 2: At school, mother Madison gets meds for Nick, Travis finds his son at the protest rally, but holes up with the Salazars when a riot breaks out.
Episode 3: Madison & Co wait for Travis to return home (as he travels with the Salazars) but there’s also the matter of zombie neighbours.
• Being associated with The Walking Dead is a blessing and a curse. It’s co-branding meant it had the largest TV audience history for a pilot TV show (over 10 million in the US) but since we already bits about the lore and how TWD tackles zombies, it can become frustrating waiting for the characters to catch up. (eg Travis sees a zombie eating a dog, but still tries to reason with it, empty handed without proper caution)
• The main plot point is that nobody has ever seen anything like a zombie, horror films and voodoo don’t exist so they’re encountering it from scratch (pun somewhat intended) and have to wrap their head around the whole idea of the walking dead. Their lack of caution and awareness is used for tension. The outbreak is initially treated as just a bug going round and unconnected series of deaths.
Thoughts during the first 3 episodes:
• You can tell this is not based off a comic book because the characters are normal, regular people; no gun-slinging sheriff or heart-throb damaged hick with a heart of gold!
• Unlike TWD, there’s only a few notable scenes of gore, sometimes death-blows are off-screen. It doesn’t revel in the horror.
• They work in a bit of social commentary as the (zombie) shootings quickly escalate from angry protests to scumbags rioting.
• Well impressed with a student (Tobias) realising the gravity of the situation – he correctly postulates that unmanned electricity grids will fail, so he stocks up on canned food from the school.
• Same with Daniel Salazar (father of the family) is the best equipped in terms of realising what’s going on, and the ability/constitution to protect his family by killing zombies; teaching others to use a gun etc.
• Daniel also gives us the best trailer audio snippets: “Good people are the first ones to die.” and “It’s already too late”.
• Everyone’s big on leaving doors open behind them. It could be a drinking game!
• Episode 1 is pretty ropey, not much meat to dig in to. Episode 2 improves as a riot breaks out, and improves again in 3 as the family have to evade a nearby zombie to get shotgun shells. This tip-toeing around was familiar ground but lots of fun. It was weird how the show just propelled itself into this action/suspense scene. This ends with a very cool moment where a zombie survives a shotgun blast to the head; but not the second at point blank range. Always double tap!
• Ep 3 finishes on a high note as the army swoop in and neutralize the threat, taking it in a much better direction (army occupation) than a band of people traversing the land looking for shelter.
• Other plot threads: Nick is a drug addict. Alicia has a boyfriend who was bitten and will turn. Travis isn’t willing to kill (yet) but Madison will. Griselda (Daniel Salazar’s wife) has an injured foot and is now a liability. Madison and her boyfriend’s ex-wife is around.
Overall: This show needs more time to find it’s feet. It’s a different vibe to Walking Dead, but doesn’t claim many positives of it’s own. It looks to be far more character-centred but characters aren’t a strong point! However episode 2 improved on the first, and 3 improved on the second, so hopefully the trend continues. At the moment I’d say wait until the 6-episode run finishes (October 4th) and marathon it; but you’re not missing out.
If you watched the show, what did you think? Are you hooked or is it still on the bubble?