With everyone looking forward to – or at least curious about – the Walking Dead spinoff series, Fear The Walking Dead its showrunner David Erickson has been chatting to THR about the ideas behind it.
“We are loosely covering the period of time that [The Walking Dead’s] Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was in his coma in season one. We’re able to watch and experience the things that he missed. It’s more of a parallel story than a prequel; imagine the opening where Rick gets shot and goes in his coma — that day was probably very close to our day one.
“We’re playing out the idea of what was going on in the country and the world until he woke up, stepped outside and it’s welcome to the apocalypse. That’s why a “companion piece” has been the phrase used at the network. It’s not a prequel  where we’re jumping back six, seven years. It does tie very specifically into the pilot of the original. ‘”
Erickson adds that the apocalypse isn’t necessarily a bad think for everyone: “It’s about a family: Travis (Curtis) just moved in with his girlfriend Madison (Dickens) after they got married. She has two children, one of whom has some issues. Travis has a very pissed-off teenager and an ex-wife. You’re talking about two people who, as the story opens, all they want is to bring their family together under one roof and make everyone whole. The irony for us is that the only thing that helps accomplish that is that the world ends. What’s intriguing to me is to take these problems, which I think would make for a compelling drama, and put them in this much larger canvas and see how they play out.
“All of the issues that we establish, these are the things that in my head will come to fruition in seasons three, four, five and six. It forges an interesting introduction into this world. It’s much more about the “shark” you don’t see in season one. We obviously play some of the tropes — and there are definitely walkers — but it’s people trying to wrap their brain around what the hell is going on and not fully understanding the zombie apocalypse by act one. It’s going through that process of the colleague or the friend you had coffee with the day before is now trying to kill you. And your first thought’s going to be, ‘They’re sick, they’re on something.’ It takes a bit of time for everyone to wrap their brains around what this truly means.”
The series will only have six episodes to start but season 2 is already ordered: “I would imagine the network has a very specific plan. I think 13 is a great number; 15, 16, it’s really a question of having the time to sit down and make sure we’re not burning story to burn story; that we’re able to build something that’s layered and textured and compelling. I think it’s a safe bet that if things go well, they’ll probably want more rather than less, but I’m not sure what that number’s going to be.”
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“Fear the Walking Dead” is executive produced by Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, David Alpert and showrunner David Erickson and produced by AMC Studios. Co-Executive Producer Adam Davidson, who directed the pilot, is also directing the second and third episodes. The series’ first season, consisting of six one-hour episodes, will premiere on AMC in late summer.
“Fear the Walking Dead,” which is set in Los Angeles and focuses on new characters and storylines, stars Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, “Sons of Anarchy”) as Madison, Cliff Curtis (“Missing,” “Gang Related”) as Travis, Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) as Nick and Alycia Debnam-Carey (Into the Storm) as Alicia. Also joining the cast as series regulars are Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange is the New Black”) as Liza and Mercedes Mason (Quarantine 2: Terminal) as Ofelia.