The premiere episode of the Vancouver-filmed TV series Fear The Walking Dead broke cable television ratings records on Sunday.
The 90-minute opener of the zombie-themed show attracted 10.1 million viewers to AMC, the biggest audience ever for a cable series debut.
Fear the Walking Dead is a companion series to The Walking Dead. Even though it’s a companion series, the new show focuses on a completely new set of characters and storylines. Although filmed in Vancouver, our characters are set in Los Angeles, whereas the original series takes place in Georgia.
The new show, created by Robert Kirkman with Dave Erickson, is set in LA with a cast that features a family – Kim Dickens (high school guidance councellor and mom Madison Clark), Cliff Curtis (English teacher and stepdad Travis Manawa), Frank Dillane (addict son Nick Clark), Alycia Debnam-Carey (daughter Alicia Clark) and Lorenzo James Henrie (Travis’s son Chris) – and documents their struggles that start in the early days of the zombie outbreak.
Compared with The Walking Dead, the new show (which will hopefully someday overlap with its older sibling) so far has a lot less action in both the gore and psychological-drama departments. Sorry guys, but no mini-heart attacks… Yet. However, it is capable of generating its own unique kind of existential dread. Knowing what we do about what’s coming, it’s almost an indulgence to cling to what we realize are the last shreds and moments of normal life.
According to the Nielsen company, an estimated 10.13 million people watched the premiere Sunday night. The previous record-holder for top cable series premiere, “Better Call Saul,” is AMC’s spinoff of the series “Breaking Bad”. “Fear the Walking Dead” had nearly double the viewers of the top scripted drama on network television, CBS’ “Zoo,” which was seen by 5.85 million last week.
While ratings were high, reviews were mixed for the first episode. The show garnered a mediocre score of 66 on Metacritic.
Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald thought it was a bore.
“‘Fear’ resorts to the dumbest of jump scares and runs in circles. You’ll get impatient for a walker to come chomping by. You might be disappointed when one does,” he wrote.
Joanne Ostrow of the Denver Post said because the series is a prequel, it works on an entirely different level than The Walking Dead. “The viewer knows what’s coming but the characters don’t. That gives the whole enterprise a sort of Hitchcockian suspense, a constantly terrifying subtext that works to sustain tension,” she wrote.
Rachel’s Take: I thought the premiere was great! While the 90-minute pilot was more focused on the family, I’m confident that upcoming episodes will move more toward what made us fall in love with the original Walking Dead: the gore and the mini-heart attacks you get.
My Rating: 4 walkers out of 5.
AMC has ordered a 15-episode second season for 2016.
What did you think about the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead? Do you think it lived up to the hype? Sound off in the comments below, be sure to check out the promo for next week’s episode!
Fear The Walking Dead airs every Sunday on AMC at 9pm ET.