‘Walking Dead’ Spinoff Explores New Territory

With the undeniable success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, it makes sense that the network would produce a spinoff. Fear the Walking Dead (9 p.m. Sundays, AMC) promises zombie-apocalypse action in the fictional universe fans have come to

click to enlarge 'Fear the Walking Dead'
'Fear the Walking Dead'

With the undeniable success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, it makes sense that the network would produce a spinoff. Fear the Walking Dead (9 p.m. Sundays, AMC) promises zombie-apocalypse action in the fictional universe fans have come to love, with a different setting, cast and timeline. So we move from years into the outbreak in Georgia (or, more recently, Virginia) to the very beginning in Los Angeles.

Last week’s pilot might be deemed “slow” by some because the action and bloodshed was so minimal compared to the original series, but this companion is all about exploring the early days of this zombie virus — what happened right before the world turned upside down. That’s a huge chunk of the apocalyptic timeline we missed out on in TWD, as we experienced everything via Rick Grimes, who was in a coma for about a month when the fallout began. And Fear’s vision of the first cracks in society is intriguing.

The show focuses on a blended family: High school counselor Madison and her children — Alicia, a laidback college-bound intellectual, and Nick, a troubled drug addict — and her English-teacher boyfriend Travis (whose ex-wife and son made a short appearance last week). Clearly this modern family dynamic will present realistic problems, like where to go when the world ends and your family is scattered across the city.

The drug aspect is perhaps the most interesting. The pilot opened with Nick waking up in an abandoned church/junkie den to find bloodied bodies and his (undead) girlfriend eating a guy. Was it just a bad trip? His dependence on drugs not only puts into question his account of the very real horrors creeping up on the city, but it also makes him vulnerable. Any kind of mass virus is going to show up in camps of homeless people, circles of drug addicts and others without the security of a safe space and good health.

And when you think about it, knowing that reanimated corpses are about to engulf the city actually creates more tension and anticipation for the audience. It leaves us wondering, is that a walker in the distance, or just a disheveled man?

As warned in the trailer, “When the world ends, it happens fast.” So don’t expect too many more “slow” episodes.

WEDNESDAY 26

The Carmichael Show (Series Premiere, 9:30 p.m., NBC) – Jerrod Carmichael’s stand-up is smart, quick and biting. So what is he doing on what looks like the Everybody Loves Raymond set?  It’s great to see talented young comics land mainstream gigs, but it’s always disappointing to find them stuck in the same stale sitcom trope.

Lachey’s Bar (10:30 p.m., A&E) – Mayor John Cranley offers the brothers the key to the city; Lachey’s Bar officially opens.

THURSDAY 27

Project Runway (9 p.m., Lifetime) – The designers finally get to visit Mood, and are tasked with making a modern update to a classic form.

Documentary Now! (10 p.m., IFC) – This week’s doc follows DRONEZ journalists — a spoof on VICE news — as they hunt down Mexican cartel kingpin El Chingon.

SATURDAY 29

Hannibal (Series Finale, 10 p.m., NBC) – Last. Episode. Ever. No words.

SUNDAY 30

Show Me a Hero (Finale, 8 p.m., HBO) – Nick starts the journey of a political comeback; townhouse residents are selected. 

MTV Video Music Awards (9 p.m., MTV) – Infamous VMA performer Miley Cyrus takes over as host, begging the question: What will this year’s requisite VMA scandal be? Perhaps Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” girl gang will take out Kanye once and for all. Red carpet coverage begins at 8 p.m.

TUESDAY 01

Scream (Season Finale, 10 p.m., MTV) – Totally was not expecting to fall in love with MTV’s iteration of this campy horror franchise, but I’m hooked. In this final episode we may meet the killer, but with the promise of a second season, expect some dangling ends.


CONTACT JAC KERN: [email protected] or @jackern


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