‘Tales Of The Walking Dead’ Is Here, And It Is Weird

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Tonight marks the official debut of Tales of the Walking Dead, AMC’s new anthology series set within the Walking Dead universe. AMC+ subscribers have already seen the first episode, and I already watched three of them as screeners a few weeks back.

I’m just going to say up front here, this…may not be quite what you’re expecting.

At least what I was expecting was something akin to World War Z, the book, which included different implications of the zombie apocalypse around the globe. Perhaps on a smaller scale, but on the whole, it created a tonally consistent package. It’s actually one of my favorite novels.

This is not that. When AMC says this is an experimental series, they really do mean experimental. The tone of these episodes is all over the place, ranging from screwball comedy to dark and grim, and none of the episodes I’ve seen really feel like they fit with either the vibe of the main show, or Fear the Walking Dead. Or even the short-lived Walking Dead, World Beyond.

For tonight’s episode, which stars the immediately recognizable Terry Crews and Olivia Munn, I was not expecting a turn into…comedy, where the episode plays like an odd couple comedy as doomsday prepper Joe meets hippy Evie and the two have a somewhat wacky adventure as they travel across the country together to try and meet up with different potential love interests.

While I like both of these actors, it’s hard to say it feels like they really “fit” in the Walking Dead universe, and neither does the script here, which reads unlike anything we’ve seen from the universe before. I knew that the point of this show was supposed to be a look at new characters and settings, and yet I just don’t know how I feel about the notion that the entire feel of these episodes should feel totally divorced from the world The Walking Dead has established. It’s like suddenly we’re getting Shaun of the Dead instead of Dawn of the Dead, but inside the same universe.

This issue continues in the other episodes, where the Groundhog’s Day-like second episode is even more goofy than this first episode. But then they flip off the comedy switch for a prequel episode about Alpha, and a fourth episode about a man studying zombies in a nature preserve. It’s just…very all over the place.

I am starting to wonder if this tonal shift idea will carry into AMC’s upcoming spin-offs with Rick and Michonne, Maggie and Negan, and Daryl. Will those not feel like The Walking Dead either, despite sharing a cast? Is Rick and Michonne’s story a sweeping love epic? Will Maggie and Negan be an odd couple comedy similar to what tonight’s Tales episode is like? I hope not.

I mean, I’ll watch all these, just to see where we’re going here, but I’m not quite sure I understand either why this show exists, or why the decision was made to do things like set comedy scripts inside the TWD universe here. I don’t love it.

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