This October, the Walking Dead universe will be growing larger than ever. Not only will the Season 10 finale finally make it to air, along with the delayed premiere of Fear the Walking Dead Season 6, but fans will at last get to experience the franchise's next chapter in the form of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. The new series, co-created by TWD mainstay Scott Gimple and showrunner Matt Negrete, shifts its focus to a new batch of characters in Omaha, Nebraska, only this time most of them are teenagers striking out after leaving their longtime safe haven for the first time.
Reviews for The Walking Dead: World Beyond are now in, and critics seem to be leaning more positive than negative about the new horror drama, though few critics put all their opinionated eggs into one basket. That said, ComicBook.com is arguably the most enthused about the AMC spinoff, calling it a more optimistic show than its predecessors, and saying:
World Beyond is unlike any Walking Dead show coming before it: at their core, all three shows are about survival, but the new series from co-creators Scott M. Gimple and showrunner Matt Negrete is considerably grander in scope, though deeply intimate in terms of character — including a dark backstory that intertwines two characters, so far unbeknownst to them. For many, this lore will be the most intriguing part of World Beyond. There is talk of so-far unseen civilizations, and perhaps most surprisingly, a functioning government. The taste of what's out there can often overshadow the here and now — longtime Walking Dead and Fear viewers will pick up on hints about the missing Rick — but our new group of survivors, and their respective histories and hang-ups, are interesting enough to keep audiences coming back on Sunday nights.
In a similar (no doubt bloody) vein, Undead Walking had more good things to say than bad, and its critic was pumped to discover that World Beyond is not, in fact, just a Riverdale-ized take on The Walking Dead universe. In their words:
Thankfully, Negrete and his team establish all of the answers you need in a short span of time, and it all makes perfect sense. It was a calculated gamble that pays off when you learn why they set out the way they do, but it works very well and fits into the show’s larger purpose of following a group of teens who set out on a quest that will change their lives. The cast works incredibly well together. After two episodes, it’s safe to say that some characters are more likable than others, and after the pilot you want to know more about them. (I can say that you will learn all you need to know in time…trust me)
From there, things fall a bit more onto both sides of the critical line. For instance, Variety definitely offers up a positive take on The Walking Dead: World Beyond, but also gives anyone the benefit of the doubt for watching the show and wondering whether or not its existence is truly justified.
This is not a perfect series: The shots of the undead often look cheap and the rules of how these monsters are evaded have never felt more loosely applied. And yet there’s a willingness to reinvent, to genuinely probe a corner of the universe previously untouched, that makes this series feel serious in its intent and, for fans of the forerunning series, well worth checking out. Its willingness to place two young women at its center, and to make their emotional response to family upheaval the story of the apocalypse, shows a curiosity worth crediting.
One of the biggest hooks of The Walking Dead: World Beyond going into its first season is the already established plot point that the new show's characters will be dealing with the CRM (Civil Republic Military), the helicopter group responsible for taking away Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes, Corey Hawkins' Heath and – by her own choice – Pollyanna McIntosh's Jadis. However, even though that plotline will almost necessarily lead into the upcoming Grimes-focused feature film(s), it wasn't necessarily enough to keep CNet's critic interested in the episodes made available for review.
Of course, anyone who's seen the original Walking Dead series knows what happens when folks get too settled in even the most comfortable settlement. Except in World Beyond. The first of World Beyond's two biggest problems is it's just rather cosy. The settlement feels rather undramatic and the zombies barely treated as a threat, with little of the creeping suspense permeating the original show. There's some tension from the arrival of the ambiguous black-clad Civic Republic Military, an organization familiar to longtime Deadheads. But it's not exactly nail-biting stuff, even when Hope and Iris set out beyond the safety of the town walls into meandering set pieces.
While it's possibly, and even likely, that The Walking Dead: World Beyond will up the ante on the zombie-centric gore-shed in later episodes. But for the most part, reviews pointed out that the opening episodes' scenes with walkers (dubbed "empties" here) lack the kind of heightened stakes that make the living-and-dead dichotomy more distinct and captivating to watch. Here's how TV Guide's review put it:
The way particularly younger people navigate their individual trauma in a world that encourages them to forget or move beyond it will certainly resonate with audiences today. But one of the things that made The Walking Dead so great are the stakes. If the zombies — or 'the empties,' as they're called in World Beyond -- _are merely a distant threat, there is very little reason to watch unless you're just curious about what it's like for this generation to live in a community rebuilt on top of decimation. (Anyone who knows even a little about American history can see the allegory brimming at the surface). As well-intentioned as _World Beyond is, it needs the franchise's foundation of horror to be even half as captivating as its original predecessor.
As it always goes, reviews reflect the views of the relative few, and widespread audiences will no doubt have tons of their own opinions to bring to the table. Everyone will be able to start talking about it once The Walking Dead: World Beyond debuts on AMC on Sunday, October 6, at 10:00 p.m. ET, following the long-delayed Season 10 finale for The Walking Dead proper.
Share your opinion in the poll below and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more zombified news as it becomes available to us. While waiting for AMC to bring the dead back to your living room, head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.