As the Walking Dead Universe expands into its fourth television series (and counting), Robert Kirkman’s original story grows by leaps and bounds. Each one is a little different and there’s several more on the horizon. The most recent one, Tales of the Walking Dead, which premiered just a few weeks ago on AMC, is an anthology series, unlike the rest.
Instead of focusing on a base set of characters for an entire season, each week a new group of actors will be featured in a variety of storylines. So far, the network has only announced six episodes that will air in Season 1, but if past events can foreshadow what’s to come, I really don’t think this will be an abbreviated miniseries.
And with each new show comes new names for the undead hordes. Two new nicknames were used in the series premiere, alone (“Toe Tags” and “Dead Eyes”). I got a kick out of each one.
Through the first few weeks, Tales of the Walking Dead has currently aired three episodes. And each one is vastly different. The first one, “Evie/Joe,” detailed a doomsday prepper on a road trip, who’s been taken hostage. The next one, “Blair/Gina,” featured an as-it’s-happening-end-of-the-world scenario, as a totally unlikeable boss and her underappreciated secretary must survive a Groundhog Day situation. And the third one, “Dee,” brings in a backstory to a couple of familiar characters, as Lydia and her controlling mom, Dee (aka Alpha), turn to the dark side. It’s safe to say The Whisperers are not far behind.
As I prepare to watch tonight’s episode, “Amy/Dr. Everett,” I immediately wish this new series only featured new characters. My admission for evidence is the very first episode. Half-way through the season, it’s easily the best one. By far.
I was already a fan of Terry Crews’ work in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and here he’s a dog person and a loner, just like me. Olivia Munn helps him open up his shell and finally start living, although I’m not sure where all the gas is coming on this trip, as motorcycles have small tanks. But his performance is great.
“You are a part of this beautiful, screwed-up place.”
About the only similar thread found in Episode 2 is an ongoing gas shortage. And the third one felt like the story was rehashed from two previous seasons of the mothership, even though it was never specifically shown. In terms of characters, I’m not really digging the overall writing. Outside of the first episode, the character development isn’t the best.
On a previously aired preview special, franchise overseer Scott M. Gimple mentioned the series would showcase stories in a variety of formats, with characters who may or may not receive their own shows down the line. So far, that only includes the Groundhog Day shenanigans, and frankly, it felt contrived. Hopefully, there won’t be many more. And is that something strong enough to base an entire TV show around?
“Do you really think the universe gives a shit about us?”
The other thing I really noticed about this new show was the lack of support by Talking Dead. Chris Hardwick really does a good job promoting the franchise with the aftershow, and since the talk show didn’t air after half the season’s episodes, I don’t expect it’ll happen for the others (but it could by the time the season finale airs).
In terms of grading TWD series, Tales isn’t the worst (so far). I’ll reserve that label for World Beyond, but that’s a topic for another day. I do want a little more from Tales, and hope its comparisons to The Twilight Zone, one of my all-time favorite shows, eventually comes to fruition.