[Editor’s note: The countdown to The Walking Dead Season Five has begun! The fifth season will shamble back to AMC on October 12th. To celebrate, we will feature a weekly review of each season. We wish to thank Mark Rivera for allowing us to reprint his TWD reviews from his Genreonline site!]
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
Genre: Post Zombie Apocalypse Horror/Character Driven Human Drama
Media: Blu-ray Disc
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Emma Bell, and Chandler Riggs
Guest Stars: Lennie James, Michael Rooker, Norman Reddus, and Noah Emmerich
Writers: Frank Darabont, Charles Eglee, Jack LoGiudice, Alex Kirkman, Glen Mazzara, and Adam E. Fierro
Based On The Graphic Novel Series By: Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard
Directors: Frank Darabont, Michelle MacLauren, Gyneth Horder Payton, Johan Renck, Ernest Dickerson, and Guy Ferlanf
Executive Producers: Alex Kirkman, Chales Eglee, Jack LoGiudice, Frank Darabont, and Gale Anne Hurd
Episodes: Disc One) “Days Gone Bye”, “Guts” “Tell It To The Frogs”, “Vatos”
Episodes: Disc Two) “Wildfire”, “TS-19”
Languages and Sound: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: English Subtitles For The Deaf And Hearing Impaired And Spanish Language Subtitles
Extras: Making Of The Walking Dead, Inside The Walking Dead,: Episodes 1-6, A Sneak Peek With Robert Kirkman, Behind The Scenes Zombie Make-up Tips, Convention Panel With Producers, The Alking Dead Trailer, Zombie School, Bicycle Girl, On Set With Robert Kirkman, Hanging With Steven Yeun, Inside Dale’s RV, On Set With Andrew Lincoln, Do They Have The Walker Disease? Insert
Running Time: 292 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Year Of Television Broadcast: 2010/Blu-ray Disc Release: 2011
Home Video Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Reviewer: Mark A. Rivera
Along with Syfy’s Being Human, AMC’s The Walking Dead is one of the best genre dramas to premiere during the 2010-2011 television season. The series is based on the acclaimed and best selling graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard and the reason why I think the series is so successful is because it is a character driven drama and not an exploitation show. Yet it not only stays true to the traditional zombie apocalypse roots originated by George A. Romero, it stays true to the graphic novel series in the same way Peter Jackson’s big screen The Lord Of The Rings trilogy stayed true to Tolkien’s books; by capturing the essence of the graphic novel in a way that it works for television. Thus it is not a slavish frame for frame live action version of the film, but it is true to it in spirit and only veers away from the text when it is an improvement that works better for television. So the same way I have heard that when someone asks Stephen King if he is ever unhappy with how some of his books and stories are translated to the big and small screen, King is said to show the person who asked the question that the books are still there independent of the feature film or TV miniseries or movie. In this case however Frank Drabont, oe of the best filmmakers to ever bring King’s work to the big screen is working with Kirkman to make sure that The Walking Dead stays true to the graphic novels, but works for television as well as adds a few unexpected surprises for fans who are very familiar to the books. There is a Nitpicker’s Guide To The Lord Of The Rings online that goes through the books and details every point where Jackson veered away from them and I have no doubt that there will be fans of the graphic novels that might be upset that the series is not an exact replication of the books, however they still have the books as King has been said to point out with regard to adaptations based on his work and I never thought I would ever state this, but as much as I am a fan and admirer of George A. Romero’s Living Dead Saga, The Walking Dead totally blows away his last installment Survival Of The Dead.
For reasons not revealed, a zombie apocalypse has overrun humanity, leaving isolated groups of survivors struggling to survive and remain human. Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes up from a coma unaware of what has taken place, but soon becomes shocked into the reality that the world he lives in now is nothing like the one he once knew. Starting with Rick’s quest to find his family, The Walking Dead quickly unfolds to reveal a collection of top notch performers who form the ensemble cast that includes a few Darabont alumni actors who have appeared in his feature films like Jeffrey DeMunn and Laurie Holden. The first season cast also features Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Steven Yeun, Emma Bell, and Chandler Riggs. Guest stars for season one include Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus and Noah Emmerich, who adds a great bit of pathos to his role and can next be seen in J.J. Abrams Super 8. Lennie James arguably has the best dialogue of the series premiere that was directed by Darabont.
Anchor Bay Entertainment presents The Walking Dead in an AVC encoded high definition 1080p/24fps (where available) maximum resolution that preserves the gritty (1.78:1) aspect ratio television presentation with a full English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Soundtrack and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired coupled with Spanish Language Subtitles encoded as options. The first disc contains the first four episodes and the second disc contains episodes five and six and the extra value features. Sadly there are no episode specific audio commentaries on either of these discs and the six episode specific featurettes which generally between four and six minutes each are the same ones that can be seen on the official AMC website and on i’Tunes. In fact all of the featurettes can be seen on either one or the other or both so there is not much specific for the Blu-ray Disc release hear. The most disappointing feature is the trailer (1:02), which is just a TV spot and not the fantastic Comic Con preview that as made available on i’Tunes and can be seen on the AMC website as well. The Comic Con panel discussion is included however (11:33). The sneak peek with Robert Kirkman (4:50) is a little disappointing because at the time of my writing this review, production on the second season of The Walking Dead, which will premiere in October of 2011, has not yet begun. I was hoping for a few words on what we can expect beyond what Darabont has already stated in the episode specific featurettes.
All of the bonus materials are presented in 1080/60p and include a making of documentary (29:52), zombie make-up tips (6:44) and specific focus shorts showcasing actors training to behave as zombies (2:55) for the series, a look at the iconic Bicycle Girl zombie make-up (5:03), a tour of Dale’s RV with Jeffrey DeMunn (3:24) and on set interviews with Writer and Series Co-Creator Robert Kirkman (5:03) and Actors Steven Yeun (3:49) and Andrew Lincoln (3:45). There is an amusing insert within the two-disc Blue BD case informing the reader how to spot and what to do if they suspect someone may have the “walker disease.” The interactive menus are well rendered and easy to navigate. The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is available on Blu-ray Disc now courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Check out The Walking Dead Season 5 trailer: