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TV review: 'Daryl Dixon' returns to 'Walking Dead' doldrums

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is in France now. Photo courtesy of AMC
1 of 5 | Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is in France now. Photo courtesy of AMC

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Dead City successfully streamlined The Walking Dead down to two protagonists in an efficient story. Daryl Dixon, premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on AMC, is more of the same mundane Walking Dead.

Daryl (Norman Reedus) arrives in France and explores the zombie apocalypse there. An overgrown French countryside and other landmarks offer a change of pace from Georgia locations, but the story repeats the formula.

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Some of the people Daryl meets are helpful. Others are not trustworthy and present just as much danger as the zombies.

Among Daryl's new partners is Isabelle (Clémence Poésy), a nun in a postapocalyptic convent who are as devout to survival protocols as they are to their faith.

Fortunately, everyone in France can speak English if they want to. Perhaps they learned before the apocalypse or it became a necessity..

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If characters ever want to keep secrets from Daryl they can speak French, with no subtitles for viewers. At other times, the show subtitles private French discussions so viewers can know where the characters stand.

Daryl, Isabelle and a few other survivors make a journey to a presumed safe haven, and ultimately a way for Daryl to travel back to the United States. It's the exact same journey from colony to colony, only now it's in France.

The new societies that formed throughout France are not vastly different from the American colonies portrayed on The Walking Dead. They may encounter some macabre new ways of survivors adapting or losing their minds, but those brief glimpses don't sustain the entire story.

Daryl Dixon does craft some harrowing new zombie encounters, which is saying something when there have been over 20 seasons of various Walking Dead shows already. After each one, the show returns to the plodding quest.

Episode 2 flashes back to Isabelle's experience at the beginning of the zombie outbreak in France. There are some clever depictions of Isabelle and others realizing what is happening, such as a zombie outbreak on a passing subway car.

This is the most compelling part of the story because it is a world in flux and adapting. The bulk of the present-day Daryl Dixon is standard wandering.

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Since Daryl Dixon is truncated to six episodes, it feels even more rushed since the writers can't spend more than a single episode in any one colony before moving on. Although the original series could stall by staying put for weeks on end, so that might not improve things, anyway.

How Daryl even arrived in France is presented as a mystery. It does not follow directly from the end of The Walking Dead Season 11, which is a disappointment for fans interested in his next steps.

It will probably connect eventually, but it starts as a standalone spinoff divorced from Daryl's previous adventures.

Walking Dead fans already know if they're in for Daryl Dixon. The character remains consistent with his previous 11 seasons, but experiences minimal growth even as the lead of his own spinoff.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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