By Russell W. Dickson, Sr. Entertainment Reporter, NewsBlaze.com
AMC has absolutely nothing to fear in the ratings dept. The Walking Dead companion series got off to a huge start. The 90-minute new series start of Fear the Walking Dead boasted 10.1 million viewers and an incredible 6.3 rating among adults 18-49. Making Fear the biggest series premiere in cable TV history in both total viewers and key demographics.
Fear the Walking Dead is an apt description of how other networks view AMC Networks’ ability to crank out mega-hits that tap into the public’s insatiable hunger for horror TV. In 2010, the premiere of The Walking Dead series debuted at 5.4 million viewers – considered high at the time. The show’s ratings have continued to expand every year since, with the latest installment and fifth season premiering at a whopping 17.3 million viewers last fall.
AMC announced from the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour a 15-episode order for the second season of “Fear the Walking Dead,” which will air in 2016. One of summer’s most anticipated new series, “Fear the Walking Dead” was greenlit for two seasons. As previously announced, the series debuted in the U.S. Sunday, August 23rd at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT with an extended 90-minute episode. The premiere also aired on AMC Global channels around the world simultaneously and then re-air in local time zones during primetime.
Russell W. Dickson:
To the few that may not know, what is the premise of the AMC Networks new hit series?
Fear the Walking Dead is a parallel story to The Walking Dead in season 1. It covers the time frame in which Rick Grimes from the original TV series and from the comic was in a coma. In those stories, Rick is shot, falls into a coma, wakes up 4-5 weeks later and the world is over. Fear the Walking Dead shows the audience what happened in that window of time. So when we begin the show, the world is just starting to fall apart, and it’s a new discovery for all of our characters and basically an apocalyptic education, because as people begin to turn, it’s slow, there are pockets of violence here and there – people don’t quite know what it’s about. And our core family is the eyes and ears into this new world that we’re stepping into. So, they will experience what it is to meet a walker, and then they will have the challenge of understanding what that means and how they adapt to the world as it changes.
Why did you choose the idea of family as one of the core themes to the show?
Our two families (Travis and Madison’s blended family and the Salazars) couldn’t be more radically different and they are forced into close connection. In The Walking Dead, you go from zero to apocalypse quite quickly, and we saw the aftermath of the group that had formed. What we’re doing with Fear is piecing that together, that larger family. It is really watching the disintegration of society through the disintegration of family. When the families are forced together, it becomes somewhat of a dysfunctional family stew, and those pre-apocalypse issues don’t just disappear.
So of all places to shoot the new series, why Los Angeles?
When Robert and I first sat down, the way he envisioned it was an opportunity to explore part of living within the same mythological umbrella and to explore some ideas that he had not had a chance to in the comic or in the TV series. The reason we wanted LA as a backdrop was that a thematic that is specific to LA and the West Coast really spreads to our characters. LA is a place you go to escape, to reinvent yourself, and what we will discover as the season plays out is that many of our characters have things that have happened in their past, flaws and questionable acts in their history. They’re trying to distance themselves from their past and the onset of the apocalypse forces them to connect with who they once were or forces them to become completely different people.
What is Fear’s timeline in relation to The Walking Dead?
It goes back to where it starts. The timeline we are covering is during Rick’s coma – it’s not exact though, but more or less covers that time frame. I have specific character turns in mind that will happen beyond season 1, and it all comes back to specific character conflicts we are setting up now. I’ll let the apocalypse evolve off that.
Why are the family relationships important to the plot of the series?
There are certain things that will happen between Travis and Madison, Nick and Madison, the Salazars, and that to me is where the story will live and breathe in the interpersonal, and then, of course, there is survival mode. We will deal with the fact that there isn’t water or enough food, but the goal is to front load it with enough character and enough conflicts coming off the interpersonal so that those survival elements complement it rather then become the story.
Why did you take this approach to telling the Fear, portion of the start of the Apocalypse?
One of the things about our approach into the apocalypse is the characters get to breathe a little bit and we get to understand them as people and their relationships. That to me is a world people will understand and relate to and be drawn to. Then when the jeopardy hits it’ll be that much more intense and suspenseful because you’ve had a chance to really get to meet them before things go bad.
Fans and the AMC Network would be right to expect big things from Showrunner Dave Erickson who comes to the table already with hits like Sons of Anarchy(2008).