Reviews

October 5, 2020

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”

 

THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND – Sunday 10PM on AMC

Even as AMC announced the upcoming termination of the WALKING DEAD mothership after one more super-sized season, the network went all-in on the franchise, unveiling multiple new spin-offs.  The latest piece of the show’s expanded universe is THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND, which is being marketed as a limited 2-season series.

World Beyond has clearly been envisioned as Walking Dead for the YA audience, and it follows in the footsteps of quite a few post-apocalyptic sagas for that demo, among them The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner, not to mention TV’s The 100, The Society and Motherland: Fort Salem.  Like those stories, World Beyond is about a quest undertaken by a few heroic teens, in this case 10 years after civilization came to an end.  The central figures here are sisters Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope (Alexia Mansour), who live in a well-organized and well-stocked campus community outside Omaha, and who are presented as respectively the “good one” (studious, participant in local government) and the “rebellious one” (brewer of illicit booze, prone to outstretched middle fingers).  They bicker but are tightly bound, partly out of concern for their father, a brilliant scientist who has gone to work for the Civic Republic Military, a mysterious quasi-governmental organization that bears the foreboding emblem that’s popped up several times in The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.  After the enigmatic CRM official Elizabeth (Julia Ormand) shows up in town with a few enticing details about where their dad has been (somewhere in New York State), and the girls receive a secret message from him that all is not well, they set out on foot to find him, barely armed and accompanied by nerdy Elton (Nicolas Cantu) and awkward Silas (Hal Cumpston).  They’re soon pursued by the sisters’ protectors Felix (Nico Tortorella) and Huck (Annet Mahendru), as Elizabeth looks on enigmatically.

The opening episode, written by series creators Scott M. Gimple and Matthew Negrete, and directed by Magnus Martens, is all set-up, and there’s nothing particularly distinctive about it.  Gimple and Negrete are veterans of the Walking Dead mothership, and despite the younger tilt of the World Beyond subuniverse, the script feels for the most part like just another episode of Walking Dead, which may have been the idea but doesn’t create much sense of originality or excitement, let alone actual youth.  The likable actors are given little to distinguish them from characters in the other shows or in general those in the subgenre’s big and small screen offerings.  Similarly, Martens hasn’t given the new show any visual or stylistic slant to differ it from its forebears.  Even the initial change from Walking Dead and Fear, the fact that the setting is a more established and functional community, is wiped from the story by the end of the episode, and the path along which our characters will journey from here on appears to be a very familiar one.

Fear the Walking Dead had an uncertain start, and then after a change of showrunners (and the violent elimination of most of the original cast) it righted itself to become the equal of the original series, if not in recent seasons its superior.  World Beyond, if it’s only to run two seasons, may not have that opportunity.  The Walking Dead itself has lately become a somewhat wearying procession of more of the same, and so far there doesn’t seem to be much ambition to set World Beyond apart in any meaningful way.

 



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on screened.com and the-burg.com. In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."




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