Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review

AMC's zombie spin-off struggles to carve itself a fresh niche in this initial six-part outing

With each season of zombie series The Walking Dead opening to monster ratings for cable channel AMC, it's no surprise that the broadcaster fancied another bite of the decaying cherry. Which is why we now have Fear the Walking Dead, a six-episode prequel series that dials back the clock to show the onset of the zombie apocalypse through the prism of a dysfunctional Los Angeles family.

Fear the Walking Dead set a new ratings record for a US cable series premiere and scored the largest day-and-date release for a US series across more than 125 territories. Yet this debut season falls short of its acclaimed parent show.

There are fine actors among the cast, including Kim Dickens and Ruben Blades, but the central family are a patience-testing collection of characters that leaves you rooting for the zombies. Or it would, if they had any real presence in the show. Ironically, for a series called Fear the Walking Dead, the undead barely factor as a genuine threat.

Just as problematic is the way in which the show handles it's central concept – the initial zombie outbreak. After an understandable slow-burn start, it's as if the showrunners realised that they just didn't have the budget to show the downfall of one of America's biggest city and have it happen off-screen between the end of one episode and the start of the next. Zombie mayhem fans will want to dig up their World War Z Blu-ray instead.

The ensuing storyline dealing with the military response sees Fear the Walking Dead find a groove of its own. Yet with this wrapped up in the space of three episodes it appears to leaves viewers facing a future that will be little more than a pale rehash of its parent show.
Series rating: 2/5

Picture: One obvious difference between The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead is that the former is shot on 16mm and this new series is an all-digital affair. As such, the six AVC 1.78:1 1080p encodes on this two-disc set are far glossier and sharper, with a richer colour palette. It's apocalyptic eye-candy.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes are low-key affairs that favour dialogue and ambience over bombast. Things do pick up during the assault on the military compound in the final episode, when gunfire and screams fill the soundstage.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: All this debut season of Fear the Walking Dead musters in the way of extras is a pair of generic promo videos: A Look at the Series (four minutes) and Inside the Characters (three minutes). Couldn't we also have had the 16-part Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462 web series? Apparently not.
Extras rating: 0.5/5

We say: A disappointing debut for this eagerly-anticipated TV spin-off

Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete First Season, Entertainment One, Region B BD, £30 approx