Last night, Adult Swim’s longest-running series aired its final episode, just a few hours after the debut of a show inspired by cable’s most popular drama. That’s how it’s been with television this year: Each “welcome” alternates with yet another “we’ll be seeing ya” ride off into the sunset. We barely have time to process our feelings about the departure of an old friend before we have to meet the new neighbors.
So in this installment of Rolling Stone‘s weekly appreciation of TV’s best and most-talked-about, we’ll be saying some more hellos, to the characters we’re looking forward to spending more time with over the next few weeks. But we’re not going to let the end of a cult favorite pass by without bidding it farewell, or without thanking it for making the 2000s more tolerable in its own weird way.
5. The voice of reason speaks on Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
We’re expecting good things from this Walking Dead prequel/spin-off, both because of the creators’ track record and because they have the mighty Kim Dickens playing the show’s primary protagonist. But we can’t deny that Sunday’s slow-moving premiere could’ve used more characters like Tobias (played by Lincoln A. Castellanos), the jittery high schooler who’s one of the first to recognize the signs of the impending apocalypse. Because this younger-sibling show is set so early in the zombie uprising, the audience knows way more than the heroes — which would be a bigger problem, storywise, if not for this kid, who tells Dickens’ teacher about the viral videos he’s seen of the undead in action. At least we know there’s someone in this show who’s not dumber than we are.
The kid also helps put what’s about to happen in context. When Dickens insists that the authorities will inform the populace if anything really bad happens her students should focus more on college applications, he snaps back, “No one’s going to college.” That pessimism gives the Fear the Walking Dead pilot its first real jolt of emotion: This won’t be some temporary emergency. The world as these people know it is about to end, and the sooner they start paying attention to the teenager, the better off they — and the show — will be.