Speaking to EW, Fear the Walking Dead showrunner, Dave Erickson discusses the intended alteration in tone between the spinoff and its prime-time powerhouse progenitor. Working closely with continuity creator Robert Kirkman, Erickson has crafted the series with a necessary backwards shift. According to Erickson:
Fear The Walking Dead will center not on an action-ready formerly comatose cop, but rather, an unassuming, spiritually-strong widowed high school guidance counselor, Madison (Kim Dickens). With Madison having just taken the step of romantic cohabitation with a teacher co-worker, Travis (Cliff Curtis), the show will essentially focus on the labored attempts to reign in her troubled family, consisting of a drug-addicted dropout, Nick (Frank Dillane) and an assiduously overachieving daughter, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). With society still relatively intact with the zombie outbreak presumably just a topic for the 24-hour news cycle, we’re clearly not at the point where survivors are hitting the road, fending off herds of walkers and grilling stray dogs over campfires. As Erickson further explains:
We layer in the onset of the apocalypse, we layer in our first walkers, but it’s really an effort to exacerbate the problems that already exist with Kim Dickens’ character and Cliff Curtis’ character and their sort of dysfunctional blended family. It’s really filtering the apocalypse through that.
One could strategically point to numerous aspects of The Walking Dead being a “family drama,” as well. However, its efforts in the show’s 2010 pilot in establishing the confessed family dilemma of Rick Grimes as a relatable Georgia cop stuck in a rocky marriage, struggling to raise a young son is abruptly interjected by the shooting incident that leaves him in a coma. That event essentially puts the audience on a fast-pass to the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse after Rick wakes up, having missed the slow, surely-dramatic decline of civilization as the zombie plague spread. Likewise, Fear, in its own way, set on the other side of the country in Los Angeles, is looking to fill the time gap, showing a family as they deal with their own issues while enduring this process that was previously unseen to the audience.
While we probably won’t be exposed to the same level of wanton carnage, it will certainly be interesting to see just how much of the signature grit and grime of The Walking Dead will reside in this prequel of sorts. Considering the spinoff’s apparent drama-centric aspirations, its characters will really have to resonate in order to succeed. Fear The Walking Dead will make its debut on AMC on a date to be determined in August.