The main purpose of “Tales of the Walking Dead” is to pass the time.
(CNN) “Tales of the Walking Dead” has the opportunity to explore and toy with this world-gone-mad situation, but generally wastes it. It is the most recent addition to “The Walking Dead” “universe,” if you can even call it that. Think of it as a zombie-find supplementary effort that only kills time by telling a self-contained story every hour.
The four episodes from this six-episode anthology that were shown in advance demonstrate a range of tones and the capacity to draw in fascinating actors because of the in-and-out need. The writing, however, comes out as particularly bad because it frequently focuses on a pair of individuals that are oddly paired together while attempting to present small-scale stories that depict society disintegrating.
In one episode, Samantha Morton, who played the evil Alpha, the Whisperers’ leader whose reign of terror carried on for far too long, appears in what is essentially a precursor to her story. This episode links back to the mother ship.
After that, these stories present a mixed bag in terms of both quality and style. A self-absorbed business owner and her employee are caught in a peculiar time loop in an hour-long film starring Parker Posey and Jillian Bell. This film is easily the weakest of the five because it seems to have crashed from yet another universe. It’s as if someone said that since zombie stories have already been overdone, why not add more tired sci-fi time-bending tropes for good measure?
The slightly better, if somewhat predictable, installments star Olivia Munn and Terry Crews as a doomsday prepper whose fears of the apocalypse have come true without having anticipated the loneliness that comes with it. Anthony Edwards plays a scientist researching zombies as some fascinating new species.
The fact that the AMC series generated one long-running spinoff (“Fear the Walking Dead”), a lesser one (“The Walking Dead: World Beyond”), and intends to further populate the post-“Dead” herd shows that the network is dedicated to extracting every last drop of life from the concept, which would probably benefit from at least a brief period of peace.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen because there are still other loose ends to tie, including Rick Grimes’ return, which was originally intended for cinema but was instead moved to television as a limited series. The real focus right now, though, should be on concluding “The Walking Dead” in a satisfying manner after all its ups and downs over the course of 11 seasons.
“Tales of the Walking Dead” is merely a different technique to keep the flame alive till the flagship program starts its final march in October, charitable speaking.
If we were successful, it would be easy enough for these “Tales” to rise once more because there are so many different stories to pick from. Despite the seemingly limitless potential, this opening volley adds nothing new to a brand whose offspring have, paradoxically and all too frequently, just seemed to follow the herd.
On AMC and AMC+, “Tales of the Walking Dead” debuts on August 14 at 9 p.m. ET.