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Fear the Walking Dead: AMC's zombie prequel comes to UK

28 August 2015

UK viewers will finally get their chance to see the much-anticipated new AMC series, Fear the Walking Dead, when it airs on Monday. The spin-off from the hit zombie-horror drama The Walking Dead broke cable audience records when it aired earlier this week in the US and is part of AMC's launch in the UK via BT.

The new show is set in Los Angeles (the original is set in Atlanta) in the early days of a zombie apocalypse. It follows the journey of guidance counsellor Madison (Kim Dickens) and her family as they gradually realise their world is falling apart.

The 90-minute series opener lured a record-breaking 10.1 million viewers in the US, according to network figures, reports the BBC. The first season will run for six episodes and will return for a second season of 15 episodes next year.

The original series, The Walking Dead, has been a huge hit for AMC, the network that also produced Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Its sixth season is due to begin in October.

Fear is co-created by Dave Erickson and Robert Kirkman (who writes The Walking Dead comic) and director Adam Davidson.

Reviewing the series opener of Fear the Walking Dead in The Guardian, Brian Moylan writes: "While The Walking Dead concerns itself with the terror of trying to rebuild civilisation after it has been lost, Fear is about what it would be like to lose the civilisation that we know today. This tactic hits a lot closer to home."

The frights here are less about hordes of zombies storming people's homes and more about a slow, creeping dread, adds Moylan. The creators do this perfectly, "showing us less rotting flesh and more ambient eeriness".

In the Daily Telegraph, Rebecca Hawkes praises the show's "expertly pitched tension and finely observed human drama", saying that "Fear could prove to be an intriguing zombie drama in its own right".

Tim Goodman in the Hollywood Reporter agrees, writing that the "not-quite-prequel" gives fans a look at the very first moments when the world began to slowly realise something awful was happening. "There's rich dramatic material to be mined in that scenario."

But the challenge, says Goodman, is "to make the slow dawning of trouble riveting to watch. Because, well, it's slow."

Yes, initially it "feels too much like a snore" says Brian Lowry in Variety. It follows a single "not-terribly-interesting family, and leans heavily on musical cues to stoke a sense of suspense". But "Fear does tap into a fertile vein", admits Lowry, since the earlier show's main protagonist, Rick, slept through humanity's fall in a coma, "leaving flashbacks to putty in only some of the gaps".

Because Walking Dead is such a juggernaut, AMC can easily ride those coattails for a while, adds Lowry, but for the long-term future of this new programme "the network might discover that the only thing it has to fear is, ultimately, Fear itself".

The first episode of Fear the Walking Dead will be made available free of charge to all audiences on the BT Showcase Channel (Freeview channel 59) as well as premiering on AMC on BT, Monday 31 August at 9pm.

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