My Review of Fear The Walking Dead

Cheer for the zombies - they are the best actors in this clusterfuc* of a series.
Cheer for the zombies – they are the best actors in this horrific knockoff of a series.

I’m not a huge zombie guy.  I like good stories and characters which was what The Walking Dead is all about.  The setting and circumstances of a series are window-dressing, icing on the proverbial cake.  Having said that, this show blows chunks on a whole new level.  While I was recently laid up, I binge-watched the new Fear series and found myself feeling even sicker.  A show has never been more appropriately named.  I fear this show will make it to a second season.  And it likely will, because Walking Dead fans are so lemming-like they will embrace it.

Whether you are reading a book or watching TV, you want to identify with characters.  The main characters in this series are a horribly dysfunctional family that leaves you rooting for the zombies. The series is set at the start of the zombie outbreak from The Walking Dead.  Great premise.  Tons of material to work with too.  We all wanted to see how all of this started.  What we got with a visual train wreck that leaves you wanting to pray that this is all a horrible dream.  My only fear is that this series will continue.

This is a bizarre family in an equally bizarre series.  One of the main characters is the son of the main “parent” characters (I’m using the word parent here with high flexibility), Nick, and is a drug addict.  The parents leave him with his sister to clean up his detox fits of puking his brain out.  He is sneaking next door to steal morphine drip from a dying man.  His parents go out and risk their lives to get him his anti-detox medication (and additional drugs – see below), only to have him slip out and steal painkillers from a man that is suffering.  On multiple levels this is messed up.  Not only do I not care about this druggie, I find myself hoping he ends up a meal for the dead.  It is no coincidence that Nick rhymes with Dick. I would like a hit a morphine myself to make it through this horrid TV show.

The family talks about fleeing into the desert to get away from the infection.  Brilliant.  Go to a place where survival is already challenging.  This idiotic family would last less than three hours in the desert even if there wasn’t a crisis situation.  Hence I found myself cheering – “Go!”  At least it would have put the viewers out of our collective misery.

Dipstick Nick’s step-brother runs off in episode two to watch the rioting downtown at the start of the outbreak. Rioting in LA – okay, that is totally believable.  What is shocking is that the father runs down there to get him out of the melee and tries to reason with him.  While Ward Cleaver’s efforts are amusing, you have to wonder what kind of parenting is going on where you let your kid go down to watch/film the riots in the first place.

Nicky’s sister is rebellious, sharing with me a disdain for her parents and brother.  That is something I share with her.  Despite all that was going on, she’s worried about her clearly infected boyfriend.  In her downtime she cuts herself because it is clear she is more of a mother than the mother in the series.

The father character is still struggling with his ex-wife (ah, a nuclear family) and is forced to hold up with a family in their barbershop during the riots.  These people saved his life and his kid is trying to steal from them and he just assumes he’s in charge.  His attitude is that these people somehow owe him something, when they have essentially saved his butt.  When he does make it home his wife does nothing but whine about him saving his ex-wife.  Wow.  So he was supposed to leave her to fend for herself?

The military rounds them up and puts a fence around their neighborhood, offering them protection, food, supplies, etc.  Yet oddly enough, the military is painted as the bad guys here.  Somehow the father ends up being made the “mayor” of this ad hoc community, which is like putting morbidly obese Jabba the Hutt in charge of a cookie jar.  In this case, the man character’s leadership skills are only matched with his skills as a parent…which is non-existant.

It’s okay, the mother, Madison, is an moronic individual on a whole new level.  In the opening episode she (a guidance counselor) takes a knife away from a kid who is worried about the walking dead.  Of course we disarm the only person in this series that has a freaking clue as to what is going on.  Later she returns to the school to find the student planning to take supplies out of the pantry.  This kid is the only person with any sense of survival skills at all in his series.  Mommy-Dearest-Madison goes to the school to steal OxyCotin for her son because, as we know, the cure of heroin addiction is a good dose of other addictive drugs. Madison secures her award for Mom of the Year here by not drying out her kid, but defying all common sense to get him drugs at the one place we know were drugs are – school.

She is attacked by the zombie principal (who stayed at the school rather than going home to his family or save himself) and in the end Madison gives the kid back his knife because that’s what morons do.  She leaves without taking any of the food with her, despite the rationing they are destined to face back home. We are left to believe that her curiosity is natural.  It is such a forced character element that it surpasses the word “sucks” and goes right to “idiotic.”   Her only redeeming moment is when she beats the crap out of her druggie son.  Yes, that’s right, child abuse is her high point.

This is such an unrealistic glimpse into the zombie apocalypse that it reads like a 1980’s badly written scenario set for Gamma World RPG.  They survivors only get power a few hours a day.  Do they try and get news of what is happening in the outside world?  The power grid working for a few hours a day is suspicious, yet oddly phones, radio, and TV are not.  Don’t worry, the characters simply don’t care.  Really.  Are they curious at all about what is happening in their city or around the country/world?  No. There’s no talk about trying to reach other family members or friends.  Instead, when they get power they run the washer.  In fact, no one in this series seems to have the least bit of worry about the scope of this disaster.  Getting the power back on just makes them whine more about the military WHO HAS SAVED THEIR UNDESERVING ASSES.

In some scenes the roads are busy, but others there are no cars whatsoever.  Think about it.  If rioting breaks out in the inner city and there is this “disease” running rampant, the roads would be clogged to the point where they are all just a parking lot.  You would see a LOT of people fleeing on foot, carrying all of their worthless junk.  It’s the nature of refugees.  We are supposed to believe that no one is on the road in the middle of a national crisis.

Here’s a classic example of the lunacy of this series:  The military has cleared a zone around the community to make it safe.  The rule is, stay inside the fence.  Seems pretty reasonable since the military is keeping you safe, alive, and fed.  But the one moron son has spotted a light in the distance which might be a survivor.  Madison does what no one in their right mind would do, she cuts the fence and sneaks out to find out the truth.  What part of sit down and stay inside the fence don’t you understand?  By cutting the fence she has endangered the entire community but that’s brushed aside by her righteousness to prove that the military is evil.  Yet the writers would have us believe she is doing the right thing, getting the dirt on the evil government.

Her husband kills his time while she’s out jogging around the neighborhood.  No, I’m not kidding. The world is at war, and the military treats him as the informal leader of the community, but takes time out to burn some calories rather than talk to the neighbors or gather any information about what is happening.  I feel horrible that he is in good shape, because he may yet survive this disaster scenario on LSD.

Another classic example of just how horrible this series is, is the neighbors next door. They have a garden that can only be described as a maze of arbors, vines and crap.  There’s no reason for it, in fact, it’s like no garden any human has ever seen.  My first reaction was, “this was obviously set up for a classic zombie maze run.”  Yeah, that totally happened with stunning predictability.  While it serves no purpose, it is so glaringly blatant as a story-ploy that there is no sense of fear when the producers spring the trap. The icing on the cake was that none of the main characters seems concerned there are zombies next door, nor do they inform the military who is protecting them.

When the father character drives his 1970’s POS truck past the authorities confronting the dead, they riddle the walkers with bullets but no one seems to aim for the head.  Seriously?  Word on that would get out in about five minutes that this was the way to kill these bastards.  Rick Grimes should find the TARDIS and time travel back and kill all of these people on this show. They are part of the problem (and let’s face it, that would be more awesome than anything we’ve seen in this debacle of a series).

In fact, Fear the Walking Dead, has no fear.  With the original series we had moments of shock, surprise, dismay, gore, etc.  Fear is so lame that there are no moments of tension.  In fact, this zombie apocalypse is more like a Sunday afternoon visit to a California mall.  All along we’ve wanted to know how all of this started.  Now all I want is for this spin-off to end.

The writers are trying to make it sound like the government is an evil entity here.  The military is out killing innocent people as if part of a diabolical plan.  Doctors are rounding up the sick, taking them away (leaving us to believe there is a sinister plot to kill them too.)  The citizens are supposed to sit back and do what the government tells them, taking no effort to barricade their homes or try and save themselves.   Big brother is supposed to do all of the thinking and acting for them.

You almost get the feel there is a political story at play here.  In many respects, this is an extremely liberal family but every stupid thing they do is okay.  The military/government, they are the bad guys, despite the fact they have saved the entire community where the show is set.  Drug abuse is okay.  What your drug-addled kid needs is more drugs.  Cutting yourself is okay.  Ignoring your parents is okay.  Hell, even the zombies are okay (what about their rights?)  The only thing bad is the men with the guns.  I don’t mind shows with a bit of a political angle, it can be thought provoking.  This is so over-the-top that you wonder why they are pushing such a bizarre agenda.

Root canal without sedative would be more preferable to viewing this series. There is nothing redeeming here.  You have a family that is horrible, with yelling, bitter loud arguments, cutting, and vomiting detox.  These are the characters we’re supposed to identify with.  I guess their target demographic is meth-lab owners.  The military has this shadow the writers are casting on it, that they are doing something dark and sinister.  Their only crime in my mind is that they haven’t machinegunned this horrid family.

And one more nit; they don’t use the word “zombie.”  Come on, with everything going on, the dead rising, you having to shoot them in the head to kill them, you would think that one person would use the word “zombie.”  It’s never even referenced.  They call them, “the infected.”  Seriously?  I put up with this stuff on the original series because it was kind of cool.  Here, it just makes it even harder to connect with the show.

Even poorly written, good acting should be able to gloss over some of the rough spots.  Again, the undead are better than the lead actors (though in fairness, some of the secondary characters are doing okay as actors).  The casting for this show must have consisted of drawing unemployed actors names on scraps of paper out of a fishbowl.

I give this series one star out of five, only because that’s the lowest thing I can come up with.  The writers should be brought out and flogged at next year’s Emmy’s for this war-crime of a series.  If their intent was that we should find ourselves cheering on the undead, they have succeeded. Rather than just give us a good story of the world gone-mad, they have opted for a Lost/X-Files twisted freaking evil government plot that has ruined what could have been a stellar series. That would be cool if we had some characters or plot that we cared about.

Please end this national nightmare.

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