BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
The fan-favorite, critically-acclaimed "zombie TV show" hits home video...
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It's often said only the insane are able to properly function in insane situations and circumstance. Be it the suspension of morals, the need for self preservation over all else, or the fact that, by simply being insane, they look at the normal world as if it weren't right; the insane fit right in to the world of AMC's fan-favorite, critically-acclaimed high concept drama The Walking Dead.
However, the main characters of this dramatic series aren't insane (yet!) and thus, we - the viewer find ourselves reflected in their personalities, struggling to survive and live in a world turned upside down and inside out. Thanks to this connection with audiences, these characters have enamored TV watchers with their personal stories, relationships, struggles, pains, joys, fears, thoughts and lives. And now, thanks to Anchor Bay Entertainment, those fans who missed the first season as well as those viewers who can't wait to see the show again can pick up The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season on blu-ray and DVD tomorrow.
The show, based on the award-winning Image comic book series by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, brings to life a world in which a zombie apocalypse has occured, causing the dead to rise and the living to run and hide. While some might look at The Walking Dead as a "zombie TV show," it's much much more.
As previously mentioned, it is the characters - and not the setting - which takes center stage here. Yes, the setting is what provides the perfect backdrop for these characters to become their true selves, but it's the brilliant characterization and the abilities of each actor to bring to life their amazing and unique personalities which makes the show what it is.
Brought to life on the small screen by Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption and Stephen King's The Mist, as well as Gale Anne Hurd, producer of The Terminator and Aliens, The Walking Dead features an amazing cast of powerful performers. The main cast includes Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes, Laurie Holden as Andrea, Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale Horwath, Steven Yeun as Glenn and Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon and Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon.
Each cast member - and particularly Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal and Norman Reedus - deliver powerful performances, helping not only bring the series' characters to life, but also helping viewers relate to each, adding realism to an impossible world filled with the undead. Again, the series is so much more than a "zombie TV show;" its focus instead is the individuals and their suffering or succeeding in a world gone mad.
All six of the series' first season episodes are included in their entirety, commercial free and in 1080p hi-def. That said, while most TV shows today are shot in hi-def, The Walking Dead was intentionally filmed primary in 16mm, giving it - like its apocalyptic setting - a rough, tired, and worn look that seems appropriate to the series' main ideas. While this might cause some viewers to complain about the video quality, the intentionality of this as well as the main concept behind the series helps make sense of this choice. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack provides plenty to enjoy for those with quality surround sound. Be it gunshots and echos, hungry zombies moaning, car engines roaring and alarms blaring, breaking glass shatering, or seemingly insignificant background sounds like the buzzing of flies; the soundtrack brings to life each in a stellar fashion, adding a unique flavor to the crazy world in which these characters live.
As for special features, the highlights include a 30-minute "The Making of The Walking Dead", which showcases the comic and TV series and the themes, stories, characters, cast and crew behind each and a set of six shorts examining each individual episode entitled "Inside The Walking Dead." Also included and worth watching are "Behind the Scenes Zombie Make-Up Tips," which features a lesson in make-up work by SFX artist Greg Nicoterro; an 11-minute Q&A from San Diego Comic Con last year, a short 3-minute "Zombie School" short which shows how the zombie actors were trained, and a 3-minute "Bicycle Girl" short highlighting one of the series' famous zombies.
Other more behind-the-scenes features include the 5-minute "A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman," which serves to introduce the bonus materials; "On Set with Robert Kirkman," a 3-minute talk with the comic creator, writer, and producer; a 3-minute "Hanging with Steven Yeun" on the set, a 3-minute look "Inside Dale's RV" with actor Jeffrey Demunn; and the 4-minute "On Set with Andrew Lincoln," which discusses (briefly) his role as the lead. Lastly, a trailer for the series is also included.
As previously mentioned, it's truly the characters and their amazing plight which makes The Walking Dead so amazing. While being chalk full of action and horror, it's the character drama that'll connect this series with most viewers. Be it the survivor's struggle to live through a zombie attack or survive each others anger and resentment, the individual personalities and their emotional turmoil - brought to life by the brilliant writing and amazing acting - takes center stage in this dramatic fright-filled, action-filled "zombie TV show" which will impress almost everyone who's willing to give it a try.
With a suggested retail price of $39.98 on DVD or $49.98 on blu-ray (and available for much less at many retailers), The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is a six-episode series of intense TV filled with amazing acting, excellent writing, shocking horror, intense action and some of the best character drama on TV today.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is available tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8 at a fine retailer near you.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley