I’m not gonna lie. I fell off The Walking Dead wagon years ago. Like a lot of fans, I checked out when Steven Yeun’s Glenn was killed off. And while the series, and its subsequent spinoffs, continued on, I never returned to the franchise. Until now.
Premiering on AMC this Sunday — with the first two episodes streaming simultaneously on AMC+, Tales of the Walking Dead is a six-episode anthology series that invites long-lapsed viewers like myself back into the fold.
Similar to previous spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, Tales is set at a different time and place from the main series. However, Tales has the freedom to explore different genres, experiment with different tones, and employ various storytelling devices with each episode taking place at various points in the zombie apocalypse. What I appreciated about the first two episodes — “Evie/Joe” and “Blair/Gina” — was that they were set early on in the timeline, recapturing some of the spirit of early season TWD when the world first fell apart.
In “Evie/Joe,” Terry Crews plays Joe, a doomsday prepper who is supposed to be well-equipped for the apocalypse seeking companionship when he meets-cute Olivia Munn’s free-spirited Evie and end up road-tripping through the zombie-strewn midwest. Hilarity ensues.
“Blair/Gina” is even more intentionally set at the beginning of the apocalypse as we find Parker Posey’s Blair and Jillian Bell’s Gina working at an insurance company in 2010 Atlanta. Not only do they already hate each other, but like Joe and Evie, are forced to pair together at the end of the world.
One aspect of Walking Dead that’s been lost over time is seeing how regular people would react to the crumbling of society. That said, I guess we can see that everyday by turning on the news, but that’s another story. Some of the most compelling episodes in early season Walking Dead offered that contrast before everyone became super-survivalists. I mean, remember when Glenn was just a pizza delivery guy?
Since the show has been on the air for over a decade, its mythology can be overwhelming for new viewers. Hell, the lore from the last six seasons since I dropped off is to labyrinthine for me to penetrate (a later episode in Tales actually provides the backstory for a season 9 villain that I knew nothing about). But what’s great about this being an anthology series is that it allows viewers a peek into the world without having to commit to 12 seasons and hundreds of hours of binging to make sense of the story.
Each episode is essentially a short film where the creators are given free rein to explore there own corners of a recognizable universe. I may have given up on the further adventures of Daryl and whoever else survived in the original series. But I am definitely down for more Tales.