Intense lead up to zombie universe

Kim Dickens plays a high school guidance counsellor with Cliff Curtis as her boyfriend.
Kim Dickens (above) plays a high school guidance counsellor with Cliff Curtis as her boyfriend.PHOTO: JUSTIN LUBIN/AMC GLOBAL

Fear The Walking Dead takes viewers back to when things are starting to fall apart, against backdrop of family drama

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Poet T. S. Eliot called it back in 1925 in his poem The Hollow Men.

In the hit horror drama The Walking Dead (2010-present), the zombie apocalypse is in full swing from the get-go. The threat of the decomposing undead is everywhere and human survival is a touch-and-go business.

The companion series Fear The Walking Dead takes us back to when things are starting to fall apart. At this point in time, the term "walker" refers to a baby's best friend as he is learning to walk and not to a dreaded monster.

There is barely a whisper of what is happening and the ones who have the earliest inkling of the truth are those on the fringe - a drug addict, a misfit at school.

  • REVIEW / TELEVISION

  • FEAR THE WALKING DEAD

    AMC (Singtel TV Channel 322) on Monday at 9.10am (same-time telecast as the United States), with a repeat at 10pm on the same day.

    3.5 stars

But they are all on the cusp of a world that is about to change irrevocably. And we are right at the precipice with them.

The makers of Fear ratchet up the tension slowly and also play with the expectations of viewers, many of whom are likely to be well-versed with the rules of a zombie universe. Enough of them tuned in to make the show the No. 1 series premiere in American cable TV history with a viewership of 10.1 million.

In hindsight, things seem thuddingly obvious. But as they are unfolding, there is resistance, disbelief and reasonable doubt.

The makers of Fear ratchet up the tension slowly and also play with the expectations of viewers, many of whom are likely to be well-versed with the rules of a zombie universe.

After all, which is the more likely: a world-ending infection or a particularly virulent strain of the flu?

Are cops shooting an unarmed person that unbelievable or would it be more unbelievable that they are mowing down creatures that will not stay dead?

Against this backdrop, the key characters are also dealing with complicated family stuff.

High school guidance counsellor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) has a junkie son Nick (Frank Dillane) and a resentful daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey).

Madison's boyfriend is fellow teacher Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), who is trying to be a father to his son Christopher (Lorenzo James Henrie) with his ex-wife Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez).

In the second episode, we are introduced to the Salazar family. The father (Ruben Blades) is a refugee from El Salvador who owns a barbershop, the mother (Patricia Reyes Spindola) is deeply religious and they have a grown daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason).

Their paths cross with Travis, Christopher and Liza as the city begins to crumble.

Expect relationships to be tested as the apocalypse brews and the interplay of emotional and end-of- the-world-as-we-know-it action drama promises to make for exciting television.

Plus, there is always the suspense of wondering which key character is going to get killed first.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'Intense lead up to zombie universe'. Print Edition | Subscribe