5 Things to Know About ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

The new companion series to AMC’s monster hit ‘The Walking Dead’ debuts Sunday. Here’s what you need to know to get primed for the premiere.
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The new companion series to AMC’s monster hit ‘The Walking Dead’ debuts Sunday. Here’s what you need to know to get primed for the premiere.

Fear is here.

The hotly anticipated prequel to The Walking Dead is upon us.

Fear the Walking Dead takes place in the same universe as TWD but from the vantage point of the earliest days of the outbreak – before anybody has realized, guys, it’s zombies.

The show depicts the fall of Los Angeles and tells the story through the eyes of one dysfunctional, blended family led by Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Deadwood) and Cliff Curtis (Gang Related). They play high school teachers who recently moved in together and are dealing with the havoc caused by her teenage son Nick, a heroin addict (played by Frank Dillane of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and her angsty, overachieving daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey of The 100).

But after a mysterious flu strikes the city, they’re forced to shift into survival mode when all hell breaks loose…and dead people keep popping back up.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Dickens warned us of the zombie-slaying. She’s excited for her new gig but admitted, “I’m a little squeamish…I don’t like horror things so much.”

Fear the Walking Dead Photo

Zombie Girl: Lexi Johnson as Gloria. (Photo: Justin Lubin/AMC)

Playing a high-school guidance counselor, Dickens is more prepared to take on terror more than you think: “If you wrangle teenagers, it kind of helps you with the zombies,” she joked to reporters.

The six-episode first season kicks off this Sunday, August 23, at 9/8c with an extended 90-minute episode. Before the premiere, here are 5 More Things to Know About Fear the Walking Dead:

1. There will be fewer zombies.

Because this takes place at the onset of the outbreak, there are fewer corpses roaming the streets. Oh, and they don’t call the undead “walkers” here; they refer to them as “infected.”

They also don’t look as decomposed as the rotted-out zombies do on TWD. The “infected” undead are a bit more newly undead in this arc of the story so they’re less skeletal.

By the way, don’t expect to learn what actually causes the outbreak that leads to the “zombie apocalypse.” Producers don’t plan on answering that.

2. Here’s the FTWD timeframe, in correlation to TWD:

Fans of TWD have already digested five seasons of storyline so they know a lot more than the FTWD characters do. “Viewers will often be ahead of the characters themselves, which is a fascinating position from which to tell this story,” executive producer Dave Erickson said.

“By the end of Season 1, we definitely know the world has changed. We definitely know that it is the end of the world as we know it. But we aren’t necessarily at the same place we were when Rick Grimes woke up in Georgia,” according to Erickson.

Fear the Walking Dead Photo

Cliff Curtis as Travis and Kim Dickens as Madison. (Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)

“Rick’s coma was approximately four to five weeks. If you track the trajectory of our story, the starting point’s not dissimilar. So we go maybe three weeks over the course of our first season.”

He continued: “There is a time that may come when we catch up with their chronology, and there may be a season where we do a major time cut. But the thinking right now isn’t about how do we intersect them or catch up with the original show.”

3. It’s set in East L.A., but producers didn’t want the show to be known as “The Walking Dead: LA.”

“We wanted an urban backdrop. We wanted something that was a direct counterpoint to the original show and the green of Georgia,” Erickson said of the new location.

He also admitted they went through dozens of titles. “It’s a major franchise and there’s a legion of fans, so we wanted Walking Dead in the title, but we wanted to avoid doing The Walking Dead: Los Angeles,” Erickson explained. “I think Fear is going to become the shorthand title for the show,” he added. “It speaks very much to what the characters are going to go through.”

4. The pace is slower than The Walking Dead (at least initially).

“We purposely built the show a little bit more slowly than the original,” Erickson explained. “We tried to slow burn the story [and] make it as much about the anxiety and tension and paranoia that goes with this outbreak as much as it is about the actual confrontations with zombies.”

While the virus is the catalyst for the action, ultimately, it’s not a “zombie show,” according to producers. Fear focuses quite a bit on the family drama and plays as a character-driven piece in which humans are “tested in unimaginable ways, respond, adapt, and sometimes survive.” But yeah, there will still be a gore factor.

5. Don’t expect to see a crossover between Fear and TWD.

“There are no crossover plans right now,” Erickson said. “Telling parallel narratives that live within under the same mythological umbrella…I would love to see those stories conflate at some point, but there’s no plans to do so.”

But, “there might be an Easter egg or two.”

'Fear the Walking Dead,' which has already been picked up for a second season, premieres with a 90-minute episode on Sunday, August 23 at 9/8c on AMC.