Thursday, July 8, 2021

[DVD Review] - The Walking Dead: World Beyond: Season One

Six or seven years ago, The Walking Dead fans would probably have been excited about another spinoff. Sadly, a lot has happened since The Walking Dead debuted on AMC in 2010, and the fanbase has shrunk to a small number of loyal viewers. The first spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, had to do a reboot starting with season 4, and while creatively it has improved, the viewership dropped to a record low with the season 6 finale. For some unknown reason, AMC and The Walking Dead's chief content director Scott M. Gimple thought it would be the perfect time to create a third series - The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

RLJ Entertainment released The Walking Dead: World Beyond: Season One on Blu-ray and DVD on June 15, 2021, featuring all ten episodes. Special Features include A Look At The Series (4 minutes), Meet The Characters (6 minutes), and The Making Of Season 1 (23 minutes).

The Walking Dead: World Beyond received mostly negative feedback when the first trailer dropped. Originally, the first season was to debut in the Spring of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AMC aired it later in the Fall. Before the series debuted, AMC announced there would be only two seasons. The premiere received just over 1 million viewers, and that number dropped considerably with each new episode.

The series focuses on teenage sisters Iris Bennett (played by Aliyah Royale) and her adopted sister Hope (Alexa Mansour), who have grown up inside the walls of the Campus Colony. After receiving a message from their scientist father, the girls decide to venture outside their haven and travel through the zombie-infected lands in destination to a Civic Republic research facility. 

Joining them on their quest are two other teenagers - Elton and Silas (played by Nicolas Cantu and Silas Plaskett). Without any experience beyond their confinement, the kids must rely on their adult friends Felix and Jennifer (played by Nico Tortorella and Annet Mahendru) to help protect them from the infected dead.

Final Thoughts

I rolled my eyes when AMC announced the second spinoff would be about a group of teenagers, which seemed like a desperate attempt to bring in younger viewers to a dying franchise. Their attempt to do so didn't pan out. Just look at the 'live' viewer numbers. Hardly anyone watched World Beyond upon its airing.

I was one of the few Walking Dead fans who watched the 10-season arc from beginning to end last year. Let me tell you - I struggled not to fall asleep through each episode. The series suffers from miscasting, bad writing, and poor directing. Aliyan Royale, who plays the main protagonist Iris, is a horrible actress and has zero chemistry with the rest of the cast. Of all the actresses who auditioned for the role, why in the world did they pick her? The only saving grace is Alexa Mansour as Hope, who out-acts everyone else by a mile. Julia Ormond does a decent job in her limited role as Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek.

The writers were trying to making The Walking Dead franchise 'cool' for a younger generation. But they don't have a clue how teenagers talk and act. The characters come across as shallow and, at times, moronic. Despite the many flaws of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking the Dead, the characters are well-written for the most part. I cannot say the same for The Walking Dead: World Beyond, where the four teens make one dumb decision after another, all because they were wrote that way.

Including the upcoming second and final season, there are only 20 episodes for the entire series. I wished the writers had eliminated the pointless and godawful character backstories and concentrated on giving us a suspenseful cross-country journey in the vein of Stand By Me, but, instead, they gave us the zombified CW version.

Why would I waste my time reviewing the DVD if I disliked it so much when the series first aired on AMC? Good or bad, I'm a devoted Walking Dead fan and wanted to give World Beyond another shot. The second viewing wasn't quite as bad. If you can get past all the cringy dialogue and wooden acting, there are glimpses of an actual story that could have been good if the series was in the hands of a different showrunner.

Overall, The Walking Dead: World Beyond is what it is - an unnecessary series that we're stuck with for eternity. We don't have to like it. We don't have to watch it. But we can't erase it from the franchise because it officially exists in The Walking Dead world.

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