Fans of The Walking Dead are eager to experience this year’s new spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, but, as writer/producer Robert Kirkman told us, audiences will not need to be familiar with the seed series in order to enjoy the new one, which takes us back to the beginnings of the plague outbreak. Here are five things we thought you’d like to know about the differences between the two shows and our chat with Kirkman, who’s been relatively silent about the new show until now.
Kirkman told us that fans of The Walking Dead will be surprised by the new show, that we’ll see elements previously glossed over in the original series. “Having Rick wake up from his coma was certainly a fun dynamic and a great way to open the original show,” he said, “but actually watching civilization crumble around these people and getting to experience them learning how to adapt in a much faster way, with much more danger and much more uncertainty, I think, is going to make the show very different.” He promised a “very unique experience for people, even if they have watched the first five seasons of The Walking Dead.”
Kirkman and the other producers felt strongly that Fear the Walking Dead should stand alone with regard to story and characters. The location is Los Angeles at the beginning of the plague and will look very different visually from the seed series. “For one,” he said, “we’re not shooting on 16 millimeter. It’s actually shot digitally. And so there’s just going to be a very different feel to this show which is really exciting and I can’t wait for people to see it.”
The look of the zombies themselves will be different, as well, since the timeframe begins at the outburst of the plague. They won’t look as decayed or as monstrous yet which, Kirkman feels, will make the violence startling because the Walkers will be much more human than what audiences are used to. But he assured us, “There’s not going to be any loss of zombie action or excitement… So, I think we’ll be bringing you the best of both worlds.”
Kirkman maintains that the origin of the plague is “not an important aspect of the story,” though “there will certainly be aspects of watching civilization crumble that will give you a better insight into what is happening here.” He doesn’t think it’s important to the story to dwell on the origins because “if we were to do a spinoff of The Walking Dead and it was about a bunch of scientists that were working to find the cure and finding out the origins, I just — that would bore me to tears. And I don’t really know where that show goes…
Struggling in a world where civilization is breaking down is much more interesting than trying to fix a virus. So that’s not an angle that we’re taking.”
Where The Walking Dead revolves more around the lives of individuals and strangers being forced together, Fear the Walking Dead will focus on the “extended, unique family,” according to Kirkman. “What we have is Madison and her family and we have Travis and his family. And they’re both building a relationship. They’re getting ready to be married. Civilization is crumbling around them and they both have kids from separate marriages and it’s just an interesting family dynamic to deal with in any story. But having all of the intricacies that come from that kind of family dynamic and setting it against the fall of civilization and the face of the zombie apocalypse just makes things that much more interesting.” Such family dynamics have yet to be explored in the seed series, allowing both show to live similtaneously and separately, without overlap.
Fear the Walking Dead premieres this summer on AMC.