Before The Walking Dead returns this fall, AMC is premiering a spinoff series, Fear the Walking Dead, which explores the earliest days of the zombie outbreak and follows a family's struggle to survive in the heavily populated city of Los Angeles as all hell breaks loose. AMC is clearly excited to be expanding the Walking Dead universe, having already ordered a second season before the first has even aired.
The first season of Fear the Walking Dead is expected to cover roughly three weeks of time in its six episodes (the same number of episodes as the first season of Walking Dead) and the outbreak's progress will be slow before ramping up to a total collapse of society. That slow burn will be key to keeping Fear the Walking Dead a different experience from The Walking Dead, highlighting how people initially cope with the reality of the dead coming back as restless, ravenous monsters hungry for flesh.
For its second season, however, Fear the Walking Dead showrunner Dave Erickson has revealed that the story will be big enough to fill 15 episodes. "By the end of season one, we definitely know the world has changed,” Erickson explained (via TV Line) during the show's presentation at the TCAs. "It is the end of the world as we know it." A 15 episode order is a significant expansion from six (by comparison, The Walking Dead's second season was 13 episodes), suggesting that Erickson and co. must have a pretty detailed plan for where their story goes once the apocalypse really settles in.
Erickson also discussed their hopes for Fear the Walking Dead to stand on its own, noting that they "purposely built the show a bit more slowly than the original." For example, instead of calling the dead "walkers," characters in Fear the Walking Dead will refer to them as "infected," implying that many will likely still consider it possible to cure the walkers (something of a dangerous prospect, as The Walking Dead has already shown).
Erickson went on to add, "By design, we tried to make it as much about the anxiety and paranoia and tension that goes along with this outbreak as about the actual confrontations with the zombies." Lastly, Erickson made a point to reiterate that there are currently no plans for a Walking Dead/Fear the Walking Dead crossover. He emphasized that the two shows are "telling parallel narratives that live under the same mythological umbrella," and stresses that fans shouldn't expect references to characters or even any Easter eggs from The Walking Dead.
That may be a little disappointing to fans hoping to catch a glimpse of favorite characters like Michonne or Daryl in their pre-Walking Dead lives, but not hinging the show's success any more on The Walking Dead than they already are is a much smarter approach for Fear the Walking Dead.
Are you excited to check out Fear the Walking Dead? Does the news that its second season will be twice as long as its first give the impression AMC is sure they have another hit on their hands? Sound off in the comments below!
Fear the Walking Dead will debut on AMC on August 23, 2015.