Fear The Walking Dead - Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot" TV Episode Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Directed by Adam Davidson
Written by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
2015, Not Rated
Episode premiered on 31st August 2015 (UK)
Kim Dickens as Madison Clark
Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa
Frank Dillane as Nick Clark
Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
Elizabeth Rodriguez as Liza Ortiz
Fear The Walking Dead is the companion series to the hugely successful TV show The Walking Dead (like I need to tell you that). Call it a companion piece, a spin-off series, whatever, there was no way that this show wasn't going to attract the attention of the legions of fans that tune in for the original show each week of broadcast. August 31st saw the pilot episode air on AMC on BT, a new UK channel that will bring AMC's most successful and popular shows to the UK.
The episode opens with a scene that echoes Andrew Lincoln's awakening in the pilot of The Walking Dead; Junkie Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) is passed out in a derelict church and comes back to consciousness to find his female companion missing. Staggering confused through the run-down building he finds blood, but no sign of his friend until an unusual sound alerts him to her whereabouts. When he finally lays eyes on her, she's eating the face of an apparently dead man and is not looking in the best of health herself. Fleeing the church, Nick runs into a busy road and is hit by a car, putting him in the hospital.
It's a strong opener that puts Nick in a single location where we can be introduced to his family, separated Mum Madison (Kim Dickens), Madison's partner Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). It's a fractured family, like so many are today and there is obvious tension between Nick and Travis which permeates to Travid and Madison's relationship. It's always got to be hard to manage someone else's kids, especially when they're as wayward as Nick.
The episode is set in a pre-apocalypse world, so society is still very much together and infrastructure works as it should. We're teased throughout about what might be happening elswhere; one of Madison's students, at the school where she works as a counsellor, comes to school armed having read about strange attacks on the internet. In other locations, odd events are taking place. This is not the all-out undead action of the original pilot, this is a more considered affair that works on building the characters and the tension before unleashing what will come.
Some have commented that Fear the Walking Dead is a little slow in its inaugural episode, but the showrunners are working against the weight of expectation set by the parent series. We know Rick, Carl, Daryl, Carol et al from the other show and from several years of following their journey. To drop the viewer right into the action without spending time developing these new characters to a similar level would have been a mistake, so we get to know them first before the tension ramps up in the final act.
Season 1 of Fear The Walking Dead will run for a compact six episodes. It's impossible to call how the series will pan out, but on the evidence of the first episode it's clear that the focus is on building the personalities before dropping them into a world of turmoil, just like the original series did which made it the most popular TV drama ever. Roll on episode 2, I'm eager to see how this develops.
Fear The Walking Dead airs in the UK exclusively through AMC on BT from August 31st. Check the following link for more details: https://tv.bt.com/tv/fear-the-walking-dead-01363995010948
[In association with BT]