There’s a moment in the third episode of “Fear the Walking Dead” that really sums up the key problem with the show. A man shoots a walker and blows his head off. This represents the first time anyone in the room has seen such a gratuitous display of gore and violence, so naturally when we pan out to the character reaction shots, they look… bored?
The main story in “Fear the Walking Dead” is compelling, generally speaking. It’s the beginning of the zombie outbreak; people are just now being introduced to this new, terrifying reality. It’s like everyone is acting as Rick in the original series’ pilot episode.
There are some problems with the execution though. The show is exciting and interesting, but it suffers due to the focuses of the story seeming to drag everything else down. Part of it is the writing — the show focuses on a family that, other than kind of being a mess, is so far not particularly worth focusing on. With any work of fiction, you must ask why the writer is telling the story through the characters they choose. In the case of “Fear the Walking Dead”, there seems to be a lack of clarity as to why this family is our focus.
The key issue, though, is the acting of the leads. The show took a risk in casting small-name actors, as opposed to the original having both Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus with previous film success to anchor the cast. No disrespect to Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis, but they certainly aren’t big names, and they don’t seem to work well here thus far.
That being said, the show is still young. We’re three episodes in. The original series took some time to figure itself out too, and the acting has always been inconsistent there as well. Perhaps time and patience will vindicate the casting decisions of “Fear the Walking Dead”.