Fear the Walking Dead showrunner on spin-off plans: We don't go 'full-zombie'

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May 18, 2015

The eagerly anticipated spinoff to AMC’s The Walking Dead arrives this summer, and the new showrunner is here to explain how it'll differ from the flagship series.

Dubbed Fear the Walking Dead, the new show is set in Los Angeles and will track the beginning of the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a teacher and his family. It's basically a prequel to The Walking Dead, dealing with the early days we didn't get to see (i.e. the time Rick was in a coma). So showrunner Dave Erickson teases that we'll get to see the world fall apart as the characters try to figure out exactly what is happening when people start eating other people.

Here's what he told TV Line about the project:

"We're covering the period of time when Rick was in his coma, so we’re getting to see things go sideways in a way that he did not. And we're telling our story through the filter of this highly dysfunctional blended family [led by Gang Related‘s Cliff Curtis and Deadwood‘s Kim Dickens]. It's about the shark you don't see. It's the education of our characters as to what is going on and how the world is unraveling and what is happening to people…

It'll differ in so many ways… [It's about] the anxiety and anticipation. We don't go, for lack of a better term, full-zombie. There's a bit more of a slow-burn to the story. We don't get to a point where we're actually in a full-blown apocalypse until much later in the show. [Fellow EP] Robert [Kirkman] wanted to really dwell on what it's like to [commit] a violent act — especially in our world, because it's so early, and our walkers are fresher and far more human. It's [emotionally] difficult to kill them, even when somebody's coming after you… In terms of emotional tension, when we put one of our characters through a moment where they have to commit some brutality to defend themselves or others, they'll suffer for it."

Though we're focusing on the early days of the zombie outbreak, Erickson was quick to note this won't be a top-down story about the government's response to the events, which is a comic approach in disaster films and television shows. They've found success focusing on a small group in a larger-than-life situation, and they don’t want to stray too far from that formula:

"One of the things I loved about the original [series], and one of the things we're going to maintain here, is we're going to see through the eyes of the family the aftermath of the decisions that were made on the command level. We'll never tell a story from the CDC's perspective, or from FEMA's perspective. It will never be World War Z."

Other tidbits of note: Erickson said there are currently no plans for a crossover with the main series (which makes sense, considering we're in a different part of the country and in an earlier time period), but he added, "never say never." So there's always (a little) hope. He also teased that the zombies might be a bit faster and stronger, since they're technically younger and less decayed.

So what’s the take away here? AMC had better be very careful in trying to milk tension from a situation we’ve already seen play out. We already know it's zombies, so it’s not going to be very entertaining to watch people freak out for a six-episode season to try and figure out what we already know.

There's also the risk this slow burn could be a bit too, well, slow. The Walking Dead is successful because it keeps the action moving. The one time it did slow down, in season two at Hershel’s Farm/The Search for Sophia, is considered a low point for the series. We don't need a whole spinoff season of that glacial pace.

Again, we're hopeful this series will be fantastic — but there are definitely a few warning flags to be noted. What's your take? Do you like the direction of the spinoff series?

(Via TV Line)

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