AMSTERDAM: Ten seasons in, AMC’s pop-culture juggernaut “The Walking Dead” is largely a spent force, staggering along like one of its still-impressive zombies, albeit with only the occasional bite left in it. But it retains some pulling power, thanks mainly to its excellent comic-book source material.
The show has already been the subject of one spinoff (the underwhelming “Fear The Walking Dead”) and now there’s another — “The Walking Dead: World Beyond.” It’s billed as a “limited series event” and is clearly a marketer-led attempt to capture a teen audience. With all that ‘marketer-led’ implies. It is set 10 years after the world as we know it ended. The aforementioned teens, therefore, have really known nothing but the brutal post-normal landscape, populated with flesh-eating undead and groups of human survivors who can often make the undead seem nice.
Sisters Iris and Hope live in a well-established, prosperous community; the Nebraska Campus Colony, which is part of a three-way alliance with Portland and the shadowy (check out the black uniforms…) Civil Republic Military (CRM). Iris and Hope’s father is a brilliant scientist whom the CRM ‘conscripted’ to work for them, so the girls haven’t seen him for months. (Not a spoiler: they decide to go looking for him).
The sisters, like every other character in the first episode, are by-the-numbers stereotypes. Iris is student president, focused on pleasing anyone and everyone — including a visiting CRM exec. Hope? Well, Hope is a rebel (See: messy hair, plaid shirt, giving the finger to said CRM exec). Then there’s smoldering community security officer Felix (the girls’ guardian) and his colleague Huck, an ass kicking lady (imagine!). There’s Silas, the socially awkward, slightly spacey new arrival; there’s Elton (supposed to be a likeable, polite, smart wimp, but actually just a smart wimp); and there are others whose names I’ve already forgotten because the writers decided to throw way too many characters in without bothering to flesh any of them out. Maybe that means the zombies won’t eat them.
It could have been an interesting show about how kids for whom terror and violence have become commonplace manage to eke out lives where that doesn’t overwhelm them. But it isn’t.
The best thing about it is that ‘limited series’ promise. At least this one will be put out of its misery early, while its parent show lumbers on.