The second spin off show from The Walking Dead gives us another glimpse into the world created by Robert Kirkham and Charlie Adlard but fails to replicate the same spark as the previous shows.
PLOT AND STORY
This series focuses on a group of kids who have grown up living in a Zombie infested world and after reading this official synopsis I found my first issues with the show. I would like to think that if you have grown up in a world and known nothing but the Zombie apocalypse then you would be a little more aware of the situation. As we meet four kids aged around 17-20 we learn they are completely oblivious to the dangers that exist outside of their homes. I understand that these kids have lived in a community and may have been sheltered but based on experience with the other two shows I don’t believe you could just grow up unaware of the dangers in this world.
The premise to the rest of the season sees our four friends embark on a perilous journey to find their Dad who may be in trouble. Aiding them on this journey are two of the only trained fighters in their camp and at least an understanding about the dangers that lay ahead. As far as the 10 issue season goes, that is the bulk of what happens for 8 episodes, it’s not until the final two where it seemed like the writers had an idea to do something interesting with the plot. That may seem harsh but unfortunately it’s how I feel about the writing in this series, boring, uneventful, unimaginative and disappointing when you consider the endless possibilities there are with this universe.
Our six companions all have a back story and very predictably all are connected in one way or another. Other than our six travellers we meet The Civil Republic who if you have watched the original series are a familiar name. The group who have Rick Grimes, who first appears in season 8 of The Walking Dead are portrayed as the villains in this opening series of the show. The screen time we get with The Civil Republic is some of the most interesting moments of the show and it’s a shame we don’t see more from them, hopefully season two will have this in store.
Overall I found the story for an opening season to be very dull and it felt like very little effort was put into creating any real drama or conflict. All we can hope is that season one has laid all the groundwork for season two to blossom.
PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION
World Beyond certainly looked like a Walking Dead show even if it didn’t feel like one.The endless abandoned roads and deserted towns we encountered along the journey looked aesthetically just like the original series and credit to the production team putting that together. The only thing that surprised me on this show was how small everything seemed. The premise to the show was this group of outdoor amateurs were walking across states yet it doesn’t seem to take them very long to get from place to place and the abandoned towns we encounter all seem very small, a few houses and a shop but not much more. Thinking back to season one of the original show we were seeing empty cities which brings perspective to the scale of the problem but here we are just getting little glimpses of the chaos which lowers the level of danger you are expecting.
The first few episodes made some terrible directional decisions while trying to build suspense and fear. Entering a dark room and your light conveniently stop working the second you need it is one of the oldest stereotypes there is in cinema and I found it incredibly disappointing to see it used in some of the earliest real encounters with danger. This was only one of a few small things which really irritated me during the first few episodes.
The Zombies or Empties as they are called in this show seemed very docile compared to their counterparts in the other shows. The fact that this show is set in sync with the original series means there should be no reason for the Empties behaving any differently to the Walkers we are used to. However, in this show they appear slow, weak and somewhat uninterested in eating your brains. As we have seen in the original series Walkers can appear out of nowhere, they can overrun you in no time and they can easily overpower you while tearing the flesh from your bones with its teeth like they were a hot knife going through butter. In World beyond there is none of that at all, they just don’t seem interested and they have no power whatsoever and are simply subdued by being pushed back with a stick. Either the Empties in this part of America are much better fed, they don’t have the desire to feed as much or it’s just a huge inconsistency with the other shows.
Unfortunately my review doesn’t get much better here as I found most of the cast to be either poorly cast or just wrong for the role. The two main characters are step sisters Iris and Hope Bennett who offered little to no on screen chemistry. They also have a brother of sorts Felix who tags along for the ride to protect them. Felix, played by Nico Tortorella was easily the best cast member of this group and was believable in the role but let down at times by some bad writing.
Silas and Elton are the other two kids and had some of the widest range of emotions to display, especially during their back stories but for me both failed to convince in their performances. Silas in particular, played by Hal Cumpston was incredibly flat and offered little change in feelings making it very hard to tell if this was a deliberate character trait or just bad acting, either way it made the character Silas a very boring part of the show.
Finally Huck, the bad-ass ex soldier along for the ride and in turn created my biggest issues with the cast. First I need to say I like Annet Mahendru as an actress and she was great in The Americans but the decisions made with her character in this show are very questionable. Firstly there is the accent and after 10 episodes I honestly can’t say what it’s supposed to be. It’s obviously not her natural accent and I think it’s attempting to be American but It was all over the place it just made me cringe every time she spoke. Making matters worse was her very british sounding mother Elizabeth played by Julia Ormond. But, it wasn’t just the bad accent it was also the tone and bad-ass attitude which was being thrown in that made it seem like she was attempting to be something she blatantly wasn’t. It feels like the creators are trying to make Huck the Daryl Dixon of this show but without the swagger of Norman Reedus it just isn’t working for me.
Although my review has been very critical of the show I feel I have been completely fair and found this new series to be very disappointing. Knowing this will only run for two seasons was the only real motivation to carry on watching because after the first 3 episodes in particular I was ready to throw in the towel. It does pick up towards the end and the final three episodes were far more entertaining than the previous seven but not by enough to justify the whole series. There is potential here, especially with the Civil Republic and the possibility of Rick Grimes turning up so I have all my fingers and toes crossed for a vastly improved season two.
I watched this via Amazon Prime UK and received no incentive to review this series.