For my money, “Fear the Walking Dead” is the best zombie show on television. Yes, it has its share of stupid parts — sometimes the writers seem to throw in some incredibly implausible story points only to test viewers’ credulity. (My favorite this season was the occupants of a heavy truck throwing a beeping keychain from a horde-infested highway — the zombies are attracted to the sound of the keychain, but not the rumble and movement of the truck that sneaks past them.)
On other levels, “Fear the Walking Dead” can be a relatively smart show — at least more so than its more famous progenitor, “The Walking Dead.” I’m talking about being smart in terms of character, dialogue and themes. Sometimes I think of it as “The Walking Dead for Grownups.” The characters are … often more three-dimensional and compelling than their counterparts on the flagship show. Not being based on a comic series, they’re not bound by the medium’s character tropes, the way that Rick Grimes and company always seem so inescapably tethered. They feel more like real people, and not the disposable inhabitants of Robert Kirkman’s (admittedly excellent) comic series. That makes the show scarier, because the characters are more identifiable.
The dialogue and story logistics are far more thoughtful. The stories themselves are more expansive, more quickly paced and farther reaching. Consider the three major locales covered this season — the ranch, the dam and the bazaar. Two out of three of those settings are explored in depth — along with the characters inhabiting them. (I’d like to see more of that bazaar.) Now consider how slowly “The Walking Dead’s” major plot-lines move. It would take the latter at least three seasons to cover the major stories covered in a single season of “Fear the Walking Dead.”
I know this show has its share of detractors, but I’d rate Season 3 a 9 out of 10.