UPDATED with more panel info: The spinoff to the most popular show on television will be back for 15 episodes in its second season, AMC told the TCA today. The first six-episode season of Fear The Walking Dead is set to debut August 23 with a 90-minute episode, as was announced at Comic-Con. The second season will premiere in 2016.
The L.A.-set Fear The Walking Dead centers on a blended and often broken family of schoolteachers in the early days of what would become the zombie apocalypse. Filmed in the City of Angels and Vancouver, the companion series takes place roughly during the four-week time period that The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes was unconscious in the hospital. While a backstory of sorts to the first season of the five-season-old blockbuster, AMC boss Charlie Collier on Friday made a point of calling Fear TWD a “stand-alone series.”
While TWD and FearTWD EPs Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman, and Greg Nicotero were not in attendance, today’s panel for the upcoming spinoff saw EP David Alpert, who is also an EP on TWD, and EP and showrunner Dave Erickson onstage. The duo were joined for the last TCA panel of the week by co-EP/director Adam Davidson. Cast members Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Frank Dillane, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Lorenzo James Henrie and Mercedes Mason also were there, but Ruben Blades was not.
Before the panel started, two scenes from the third episode of S1 of Fear TWD were shown in the Beverly Hilton ballroom. Both clips depicted LA starting to fall apart with riots, power failures and rooming “inflected,” as Erickson calls them as the unnamed plague spread. “By the end of Season 1, we know the world has changed and it is the end of the world as we know it, but it not yet at the point where Rick woke up in Georgia,” the showrunner said about the pace of the new series. “We come to realize the world has changed, but our characters are still insulated from all of what has happened,” Erickson added. “Part of what they will see in Season 2 will be that.” The EP said that part of that next cycle will explore “how are things fractured for this family.” Noting a Season 3 hadn’t been ordered, Erickson said that would become more evident as the show progresses.
The showrunner also said that Fear TWD would explore and explain to some degree how the government, police and military respond to the outbreak and collapse of urban civilization — a topic lightly touched upon in the “mothership series,” as one cast member today called The Walking Dead. As he had said at SDCC on July 10, Erickson reiterated that there were no plans “right now” for a crossover with TWD. With a laugh, Albert teased that there may be a TWD Easter Egg in a future episode of Fear TWD – but gave no clues as to what that link would be or when.