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Tales of the Walking Dead preview: horror, humor and heart in the apocalypse

Terry Crews and Olivia Munn in Tales of the Walking Dead
Terry Crews and Olivia Munn in Tales of the Walking Dead (Image credit: AMC)

As the newest series in The Walking Dead Universe, Tales of the Walking Dead proves that you can incorporate heart, humor and horror into the apocalypse. 

Each standalone episode of the new anthology series is vastly different from the next, revealing multifaceted characters trying to cope with life among the undead. We had a chance to screen three episodes of the six-episode first season and we’re impressed with what Tales brings to the table. 

Tales showrunner Channing Powell understands this universe after spending years writing for AMC’s flagship series and the first spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead. Each episode feels like an authentic and genuine part of the larger universe even though the characters and locations are brand new to viewers. That said, Tales is a great place for veteran fans to explore new stories and it's also the perfect way for new fans to dip their toes into the undead apocalypse pool.

Free from the constraints of a linear chronology, Tales of the Walking Dead jumps around from the start of the apocalypse to deep inside of it. There’s room for that special brand of dark humor that comes with trying — and initially failing — to accept that the world is falling apart. for people making rookie mistakes that all too frequently lead to tragedy and to jump several years into the future. 

It’s easy to get lost in every episode. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. There’s tension and high stakes and the characters are so brilliantly created it’s impossible not to fall in love with them. 

The three episodes made available to us were episode 1, "Evie/Joe," featuring Terry Crews and Olivia Munn; episode 2, "Blair/Gina," starring Parker Posey and Jillian Bell; and episode 3, "Amy/Dr. Everett," with Anthony Edwards and Poppy Liu. (Note how the titles focus on the characters in an interesting departure from previous series)

Parker Posey and Jillian Bell on a road in Tales of the Walking Dead

Parker Posey and Jillian Bell in Tales of the Walking Dead (Image credit: AMC)

These three episodes couldn’t be more different from each other. "Evie/Joe" is set just over a year into the apocalypse, while "Amy/Dr. Everett" takes place several years after the fall. Posey and Bell shine in "Blair/Gina" as they cope in the early days of the apocalypse before people really understand what’s happening. 

As with all of the series in the TWD Universe, there’s a blend of dark humor laced throughout each of the episodes. You have to have a sense of humor to cope with the horrors of what’s happening around you. 

"Evie/Joe" features a clever balance of humor, terror and heart-tugging moments, while "Blair/Gina" is chock full of laughs and thoughtful moments that make you question how you’d handle yourself on the brink of the world’s collapse. There’s a definite tonal shift in "Amy/Dr. Everett" from the other two episodes; it feels like a parable or a warning. By the end of the episode the moral of the story is crystal clear and utterly chilling.

Terry Crews is an absolute delight to watch. His story arc balances the triumph of survival, the tragedy of loss and the brittle hope that there’s something more to live for. Crews was made for this kind of story and this kind of storytelling. 

Parker Posey’s performance is rooted in a sense of realism that might feel familiar amid life in the pandemic; she captures the sense of shock and disbelief in an inspired performance. She and Bell make a great duo. 

And if you enjoyed Anthony Edwards’ cool and calm demeanor in ER, you’ll love him as Dr. Everett. 

It was noted during San Diego Comic-Con that each episode was written like a pilot, with the suggestion that if there’s enough traction from fans it’s entirely possible these characters could return in future episodes — or even their own series. 

What’s evident in these three episodes is that the TWD Universe is established enough to explore new places with new characters without the need for an entire series to be built around it, but at the same time the characters are so well-developed they could continue on in the universe. 

Given the great strides AMC is taking to build a vast universe with The Walking Dead spinoffs, there’s an unmistakable sense that the network is testing the water to see what kinds of stories might work in the future. And we’re here for it. Tales of the Walking Dead is fresh and fun and it’s the kind of storytelling the TWD universe needs right now.

Tales of the Walking Dead premieres August 14 at 9 pm ET/PT on AMC in the US (there is no UK release info as of publication). Also check out our The Walking Dead season 11 guide.

Sarabeth Pollock
Sarabeth Pollock

 

Sarabeth joined the Watch to Watch team in May 2022. An avid TV and movie fan, her perennial favorites are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, true crime documentaries on Netflix and anything from Passionflix. You’ve Got Mail, Ocean's Eleven and Signs are movies that she can watch all day long.  


When she's not working, Sarabeth hosts a podcast dedicated to books and interviews with authors and actors. She’s also very close to realizing her lifelong dream of publishing a novel.