“Fear the Walking Dead,” an AMC show which is set to debut later this month, is a spin-off of the smash hit show “The Walking Dead” and has so far gotten mixed reviews from critics.
“Fear” is set to premiere on AMC on Aug. 23 and follows new characters living in the same universe as the “Walking Dead” characters. The show centers on residents of Los Angeles as a zombie plague starts to become a major problem. (The original show takes place in the South.) “Fear” stars “Gone Girl” actress Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, and Cliff Curtis.
So far, the show has gotten middling reviews, with some critics writing of early episodes, “In some ways, [the show] has the potential to become an illuminating and nuanced companion piece” and “[it's] off to a very good start” but others saying that it “initially feels too much like a snore” and is “less magnetic than the original.”
And what place does a TV spin-off have in today’s age of acclaimed television? There is always the challenge with a spin-off to recapture the creative success that happened with the first show. However, studio executives are currently in love with them for movies – mega-franchises like the Marvel and “Star Wars” films are currently embracing the spin-off model of having a main narrative in one movie and then focusing on a different character in another.
More common on television right now are shows that are not spin-offs but are coming from the same creator, like the ABC stable of shows created or produced by Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder”) or anthology TV shows that essentially reinvent a show every season like FX’s “American Horror Story” and HBO’s “True Detective.”
But AMC is currently airing one of the most high-profile spin-offs on TV right now, “Better Call Saul,” which is a spin-off of one of the most well received TV shows of all time, “Breaking Bad.” Critical reception for “Saul” has been mixed but the show recently got various Emmy nominations in leading categories.
Meanwhile, superhero TV shows are embracing the model demonstrated at the multiplex with superhero films. The CW’s schedule of shows is echoing movie trends as its success “Arrow” has led to current spin-off “The Flash” and the upcoming show “Legends of Tomorrow.” In addition, ABC’s “Agent Carter” is a spin-off of their show “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“Saul” in particular could be an indicator of the future. If the network continues to do well with the show and with “Fear,” those behind high-profile cable hits could be looking for ways to get another story out of their currently successful programs.