AMC has already gone back in time to further explore one of its popular TV universes once before (see the Breaking Bad prequels/spinoff, Better Call Saul), earning strong critical returns and ratings for its efforts. The network is aiming for a similar achievement with the fast-approaching Fear the Walking Dead, which takes place in the Walking Dead universe and (according to the official synopsis) looks at the beginning of the undead apocalypse “through the lens of a fractured family.”
Among the members of said “fractured family” is Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), a nineteen-year old with a history of drug abuse and misconduct. A previously-released Fear the Walking Dead teaser clip showed Nick on the run from… something, and now AMC has released online the opening scene for the show’s premiere episode, revealing in full just what spooked Nick so badly (spoiler: he didn’t just have a really bad drug trip). You can watch that clip, above.
This sequence from the Fear the Waking Dead premiere is a good example of what the show could offer Walking Dead fans that they aren’t getting already from the latter TV show: a change to experience the horror and terror of people encountering Walkers for the first time, in a pre-undead apocalypse world. The Walking Dead comic book/TV show creator Robert Kirkman (who co-created Fear the Walking Dead with the series’ showrunner, Dave Erickson) has noted that because the spinoff TV show explores the larger breakdown of society as the dead start rising, it won’t be explicitly treading the same ground as Walking Dead (which skipped over that time period, 28 Days Later-style).
Of course, examining how society as a whole falls apart (when zombies start popping up) is a very challenging task; hence, Fear the Walking Dead will start off doing so from the perspective of a smaller group of people (including, said “fractured family”), living in the Los Angeles area. AMC has debuted a new featurette for the show, which quickly introduces the main characters whose experience will serve as viewers’ vantage point for the beginning of the undead apocalypse. You can watch that video, below.
If Walking Dead fans have learned anything, it’s who you follow in the zombie apocalypse matters; as such, the hope is that Fear the Walking Dead‘s characters will be compelling enough to keep viewers invested in their fates. Fear the Walking Dead could end up being a more story-driven experience than Walking Dead (with the end of civilization unfolding), so that might make up for any shortcomings the series has in terms of its protagonists. Still, with such respected names as Kim Dickens (Gone Girl) and Cliff Curtis (Trauma, Missing) onboard, the show ought to boast strong leads, if nothing else.
AMC is clearly banking on Fear the Walking Dead becoming a hit with viewers, seeing as the network has already jump-started development on a second season that shall be much longer than the show’s six-episode debut run. It won’t be long before it becomes clearer if the network’s long-term plans were well-advised… or if the show fails to takeoff as strongly as was anticipated.
Fear the Walking Dead premieres on AMC on on August 23rd, 2015 at 9/8 c. The Walking Dead returns to AMC later this year on October 11th at 9/8 c.