Television Review: iZombie Pilot

izombieWith the entertainment industry absolutely saturated with all things zombie, I had zero expectations going into this new TV series.  To me yet another book, movie, or TV show about zombies was like adding salt to an anchovy.  We don’t need it.  And eventually we’re going to spit this undead mess out of our mouth and make room for the next fantastic trend.  But for now we’ll continue to pretend that there are still more rotting human tales to tell (I guess I can’t complain too much.  I’m responsible for some of that salt).

iZombie is a new TV show based on the Vertigo/DC Comic developed  by the CW Television Network.  To give a thorough review I’m going to include spoilers, so if you’re looking for the verdict just read the last line or two for a summarization.  That’s usually how these things go.

The spoils:  Girl is a doctor and engaged to be married.  Life is good.  Girl ends up at a boat party where there’s an isolated zombie outbreak.  Girl is contaminated by the zombie virus and ends up drowning in the water.  Girl wakes up in a body bag on the beach completely intact (including her rationale, motor skills, and sense of humor) but a bit paler and with a new appetite for “brain food.”

Fast forward five months and she’s no longer engaged (loves her fiancé too much to fill him in or subject him) and she now has a job in forensics doing autopsies—talk about convenience food.  Out of nowhere, the woman’s co-worker puts two and two together and labels her a zombie.  But not to worry cuz he’ll never tell.  She explains to the secret holder that if she doesn’t eat brains she gets stupid and angry.  He’s down with letting her munch at work…ON work, and after eating the brain of a recent homicide victim in her salad like some pink crouton tofu, she develops visions of what the victim went through and so establishes a relationship with a detective who thinks she’s a psychic.  In a nutshell, that’s iZombie.

The one thing that helped me look past some of the poorly written jokes was the concept that pale girl also picks up a few attributes from the person she’s currently digesting.  So not only is she seeing through their eyes, but she’s got some of their brains…figuratively; be it bad habits or a foreign language, etc.  The pilot didn’t elaborate for how long she holds onto these new talents and faults, but my guess is just long enough to get the case solved, while each episode she’ll pick up fresh traits.

iZombie is 80% whodunit cop show and 20% undead.  My cons for the show would have to include the people close to zombie girl and their ignorance toward her new look.  It was a bit unbelievable.  And at least half of the “jokes” fell stale.  Normally character problems for me fade after time, so those characters I may have issues with will probably feel like good acquaintances by mid season, and at this rate I anticipate sticking around that long.

As bad as I tore up the zombie bandwagon at the beginning of the review, I have to admit I’m looking forward to the next episode.  And maybe even the one after that.  Pass the salt please.

Check out this iZombie trailer:

Article: The Birth of the Zombie

 

Clairvius Narcisse
Clairvius Narcisse

Who hasn’t heard of the zombie, living-dead antagonist of both television and the silver screen for the past decade?

Actually, the notion of the zombie as a dead person who has been brought back to life – so to speak – has its origins in West African tribal religions and their New World counterpart, vodoun, more commonly known as voodoo.

According to voodoo folklore, a sorcerer, called a bokor, gives his victim a poison derived from various toxic plants and animals including white tree frogs, bouga toads, tarantulas, and puffer fish. (The puffer fish contains tetrodotoxin, one of the deadliest poisons known to man.)

The ill-fated victim begins to suffer dizziness and a prickling feeling in the fingers and toes which soon leads to complete numbness. Next come headache, weakness, a drop in body temperature, rapid pulse, vomiting and diarrhea. Within 30 – 45 minutes, decreased pulse and respiration occur, and the lips turn blue. This is followed by complete paralysis, and the victim is declared dead. Unfortunately the person is completely conscious for the entire ordeal. Even more unfortunately, he or she remains conscious during burial!

A day or two after burial, the bokor retrieves the victim from the grave and revives the person with a potion of hallucinogenic plants. The zombie, disoriented, traumatized and mentally damaged by the experience, can then be made by the bokor to do the sorcerer’s bidding.

One of the best documented cases of alleged zombification is that of a Haitian man named Clairvius Narcisse. On April 30, 1962, Narcisse checked into the American-run Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelle, Haiti, basically complaining of the very symptoms mentioned above.

White Zombie poster
White Zombie poster

His condition rapidly deteriorated and on May 2, doctors declared him dead. He was identified by his sister, Marie-Claire, and buried the next day. Eighteen years later, Narcisse appeared to another one of his sisters, Angelina, with an incredible tale to tell: Narcisse claimed he had been poisoned, raised from his coffin and revived, beaten into submission and forced to work sunup to sunset on a plantation. He escaped after two years, only to wander the countryside for the next sixteen years. In 1982, researchers from Haiti’s Centre de Psychologie et Neurologie Mars-Kline investigated the case, examining and questioning the man, and finally determined that he was, in fact, Clairvius Narcisse. The rest of Narcisse’s story could not be substantiated, but it seems that family and townsfolk believed it to be true

 

Night of the Living Dead lobby card
Night of the Living Dead lobby card

The first zombie movie, White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi (1932), followed the voodoo-master-zombie-slave scenario. In modern zombie lore, however, the living dead are most often not a sorcerer’s slaves, but victims of a pandemic who mindlessly roam the streets hunting surviving humans, and eating any living thing they can catch. This is the premise for the cult classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), and Brad Pitt’s recent venture into the horror genre, World War Z (2013), as well as the popular television series, The Walking Dead and Z Nation. There is, of course, no historical record of a zombie epidemic having ever happened. At least not yet.

Movie Review: Dead Within (2014)

Dead Within poster
Dead Within poster

DEAD WITHIN

Director: Ben Wagner. Writers: Matthew Bradford, Dean Chekvala, Amy Cale Peterson, Ben Wagner. Stars: Amy Cale Peterson, Dean Chekvala, J. Claude Deering, Rick Federman. Produced by 3:41am and This is Just a Test Productions.

Zombie films have been running (or shambling, depending on your take) rampant these last few years. Apocalyptic fears and societal woes have been harvested from the zombie film genre since 1968 when Romero changed all of the rules with Night of the Living Dead. And though Romero’s latter entries in his dead series lacks the craftsmanship of his original dead trilogy, the director’s fingerprints can be traced to many modern zombie works, especially AMC’s The Walking Dead.

There have been many films that focused strictly on the gory bloodbath of the zombie takeover, with little regard to characterization. Several Italian films inspired by Romero’s Dawn of the Dead were produced in the 70’s and 80’s, and they went for the gore and kept very little of the heart.

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that in the most effective zombies films, the zombies are incidental. The Walking Dead could be about any type of epidemic, supernatural or otherwise, and it would still function well as an ensemble drama.

Amy Cale Peterson
Amy Cale Peterson

Dead Within is the most interesting and well-acted zombie film I have seen in a decade or more and the actual zombies of the film have less than a minute of screen time and are seen in quick snatches. A couple played by Amy Cale Peterson (who gives a powerhouse performance) and Dean Chekvala (who convincingly conveys a man trying to protect all he has left) play a happily married couple who arrive for a weekend stay at a friend’s cabin. After the credits, we flash forward six months and the couple struggle to keep safe in the barricaded home while an epidemic similar to the one witnessed in 28 Days Later and REC decimates humanity.

Mike and Kim exist on the supplies that  Mike is able to round up every few days. And while Mike hunts and gathers, Kim has not left their safe haven in six months, and cabin fever is taking its toll on her. Adding to her misery is the occasional visit from their infected dog who scratches at their door and the fate of their infected infant.

Dead Within still twoDead Within has the quiet subtleties of I Am Legend (the novel, not the crappy movie adaptations). About 98% of the film takes place in the darkened cabin and Kim’s descent into madness seems a natural procession that never feels forced. If I have one complaint about the film: you will see exactly where this movie is going and you will sense how it ends. I do wish the film had thrown me more of a curve, but I still admire the hell out of it. It is a powerful zombie film with a lot of heart and reality to it. Of course, it may bore gore-hounds. But I hold this film up high in an overwrought genre. It has the dark precision of Romero at his finest. It may be a bit more minimalist than the original dead trilogy, but Dead Within knows that the secret to a successful zombie story lies more in the story of survivors clinging to the shadows and praying for another day of life. Highly recommended.

Check out the trailer for DEAD WITHIN:

TV Review: The Walking Dead Season 4 (BluRay)

The Walking Dead Season Four
The Walking Dead Season Four

[Editor’s note: The countdown to The Walking Dead Season Five concludes! The fifth season will shamble back to AMC on October 12th. To celebrate, we will feature a  review of each season leading up to the 5th season premiere. We wish to thank Mark Rivera for allowing us to reprint his TWD reviews from his Genreonline site! Today we look at Season Four!]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season: 5 Disc Set

The Walking Dead from the outset tells two different location based stories a season, conveniently split at the mid-season finale with the exception of the short introductory season which basically split the locations into Atlanta, Georgia and a quarry within sight of the Atlanta skyline and culminated in a trip to the CDC where Rick Grimes is told a secret regarding the zombie plague that makes their situation all the more harrowing. The second season masquerades itself as a largely one location season, but in actuality I would argue that the highway is a major force behind the actions of the entire season. How can this be? Well it is on the highway outside Atlanta where the group first encounters a zombie heard, which is the catalyst for the search for young Sophia, whose disappearance is what drives much of the action and heartache culminating in one of the most gut wrenching emotional moments in the entire season at the mid-season finale. This in turn drives the rest of the second half of the season as the false sense of safety on the farm quickly erodes from both the inside of the group and outside as the walkers come hot on the heels of a major confrontation between characters and forces the survivors back on the road. For the road or highway is not just the source for the herds of walkers that drive the action at the beginning and then set the final curtain for the end of the series, but metaphorically the road is the place where they wanted to get back to, but are driven from and only get to return to narrowly at the end while a bit later, besides the fading fire, the survivors learn the horrible nature of the infection and the reality that everything they knew before as personified in the man made paved highways in and out of Atlanta are no longer safe. Survival will now depend on leadership and unorthodox methods.

Things get very dark for Rick Grimes
Things get very dark for Rick Grimes

The third season is the era of the “Ricktatorship” with the dichotomy set up by the brutality of this new world as played out between the doppelgangers of Rick and the Governor and the respective locations of the harsh zombie infested prison Rick’s group cleans out and attempts to call home and the illusion of a normal small American town where it appears as though the values of a common good are being fostered, but the ultimate reality of Woodbury being a trap based upon manipulation and intimidation sets up the clash of the titans and ultimately what seems on the outside as the place no one would ever want to live in and the other being ideal exchange places in a world where the balance between pragmatism and humanity are frequently at odds.

Lauren Cohan kicking zombie tail
Lauren Cohan kicking zombie tail

This leads us into the fourth season where we pretty much discover greater threats within the prison that cannot be readily seen and the final battle between the Governor and Rick sends our survivors running in different directions in search of hope whether it is faith that two lovers will be reunited, a mission to save the world, and a journey to a safe haven that of course is not what it seems. The final words of Rick Grimes at the end of the season four finale will leave viewers so pumped up for season five that they will be binge watching the first four seasons just to satiate themselves until The Walking Dead returns in October and the absolute best way to watch the fourth season of the highest rated drama in basic cable history is through watching it on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The five-disc Blu-ray set presents all of the fourth season episodes in beautiful full 1080p/24fps, (where available), in the (1.78:1) aspect ratio preserving the means by which the series was originally broadcast on AMC. A well mixed and aggressive lossless English Dolby TrueHD 7.1

Terminus turns out not to be the sanctuary the group had hoped for
Terminus turns out not to be the sanctuary the group had hoped for

Soundtrack brings a higher fidelity and discreetness than one has ever heard on either the television broadcasts or even digital streaming. A French Language Dolby Surround Soundtrack as well English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and Spanish Language Subtitles are also encoded as options.

In addition to the exclusive to Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Soundtrack, extended versions of the episodes “After” and “The Grove” are only available within this Blu-ray Disc set and are not on the DVD counterparts, which are sold separately. Retrospective audio commentaries for the episodes “30 Days Without An Accident”, “Internment”, “After”, “Still”, and “The Grove” feature the participation of Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Effects Make-Up Supervisor and Director Greg Nicotero, Co-Executive Producer Denise Huth, Director Julius Ramsay, Writer Angela Kang, and series Stars Scott Wilson, Danai Gurira, Emily Kinney, Norman Reedus, and for the first time viewing a completed episode of the series he is the lead in, Andrew Lincoln. There are actually two retrospective audio commentaries for “Still” with Emily Kinney participating in one and Norman Reedus participating separately on another. The average episode length is between 42 and 43 minutes while the average exclusive extended versions of the two select episodes run approximately 48 minutes each.

All of the bonus video features are on disc five and they include 16 Inside The Walking Dead featurettes and 16 Making of The Walking Dead featurettes as well, unfortunately these can only be viewed individually. There is no “Play All” feature for them. The rest of the extra value materials include a short regarding how the series draws inspiration from the comic (6:07), a short focusing on Actor Scott Wilson and his character of Hershel (7:59) and another focusing on Actor David Morrissey and his portrayal of The Governor (8:43), and a look at a college class with multiple lecturers including a mathematician, a physicist, public health specialist, psychologist and sociologist focusing on the science behind The Walking Dead (5:31). A look at the KNB EFX (18:20) as well as a featurette focusing on Rick’s journey in the season (8:18) and a reel of eight deleted scenes that can be viewed either individually or in succession (9:14) wrap up the bonus features on disc five.

Two 32 second spots for The Walking Dead and Comic Book Men respectively precede the main menu on disc one. Within the BD case is an insert containing a limited time only redeemable code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of The Walking Dead: Season Four and an insert filled with advertisements for Walking Dead related merchandise.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season is available on Blu-ray Disc at retailers on and offline courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The fifth season of The Walking Dead will premiere on AMC in October of 2014.

Check out the trailer for season five:

Movie Review: The Dead 2 (BluRay)

The Dead 2 AKA The Dead 2: India

The Dead 2 poster
The Dead 2 poster

The Dead 2 is the new zombie horror film by The Ford Brothers, who impressed horror fans globally with their hit debut film, The Dead, which was set in and shot on location in West Africa using local talent and West African citizens as extras. This installment is kind of a prequel and certainly could take place concurrent to the events of the first film… at least partially. The reason why I state this is because in the first film, it is pretty clear even from the flashback beginning of the story that a zombie apocalypse is in full swing and the lead characters enter already knowing what they are dealing with.

The new film, set in India, begins with a boat returning to Mumbai from Somalia where essentially patient zero for the subsequent outbreak in India peacefully returns to his home clutching his arm where he was bitten while working in Africa. Since the outbreak has only started in Africa and still somewhat unconfirmed, no one is expecting the horror that is about to unfold and as a result within one night, the streets of Mumbai are filled with citizens in panic, shot guns firing, zombies attacking and huge military helicopters flying over the city. A lone young Indian woman calls her secret American boyfriend to tell him she is pregnant with his child and her parents don’t know. The American (Joseph Millson), a turbine engineer contracted by the military, is completing a wind-farm when he gets her call, which is shortly followed by a call to his partner, who informs him that he must abandon the assignment and return to Mumbai by the night to get the last plane out to the States. With his partner refusing to risk his life by picking up his girlfriend, the engineer battles his way across 300 miles of zombie infested wilderness. During his journey he rescues an orphan (Anand Goyal), who becomes his guide in return for protection from the undead.

The Dead 2 zombie still
The Dead 2 zombie still

Basically The Dead 2 does not cover much new ground with the main characters this time being an American Engineer and an Indian boy instead of an American and African soldier as seen in the first film. While there are some great fight sequences, a few legitimate scares, and moments of Hindu spirituality trying to explain why the zombie apocalypse has begun, there just is not enough for a grown man and a little boy to do in a zombie horror flick while in the first film, there were more sequences and encounters with varied adult characters and the two leads made for a team you could relate with. Young Anand Goyal is a very likable child actor, but he is still a child and thus there is only so much that can be shared between the two lead characters.

Ultimately the action parallels the action of the first film very closely with just some cosmetic changes that distinguish it from the first. Essentially The Dead 2 is more of a fable than the first film. It telegraphs what is to come with little subtlety, but while I liked the first film better, The Dead 2 is still a better than average zombie horror film. I hope if The Ford Brothers make a third installment, they will aim for a different kind of story that takes everything forward and in a new direction rather than what feels like a loose retread of the original that seems more like a prequel than a sequel. The character reactions are not consistent to what was shown in The Dead. Here it feels like it is just beginning while the other film clearly gives the impression that everyone is well aware of the problem and trying to deal with it.

The Dead 2 still twoAnchor Bay Entertainment’s Blu-ray Disc edition presents The Dead 2 in a beautifully sharp high definition 1080p/24fps (1.78:1) widescreen aspect ratio that is quite colorful at times and uses the on location scenes shot in Rajasthan, Delhi, and Mumbai to create one of most visually impressive zombie horror films ever made. There was a scene in the film where the dialogue spoken between main characters sounded kind of hollow or had a kind of echo quality to it that I am unsure is due to bad ADR looping or some glitch in the disc itself. Outside of that, the

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Soundtrack is just fine and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired as well as Spanish Language Subtitles encoded onto the Blu-ray Disc as options.

Extra value features include an interview with the filmmakers from Frightfest TV (29:12), two deleted scenes (2:21) and trailers for The Dead (2:18) and Battle of the Damned (2:18), which precede the main menu.

The Dead 2 debuted on Blu-ray Disc on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at retailers on and offline courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Check out the Dead 2 trailer:

TV Review: The Walking Dead Season Three (BluRay)

Walking Dead S3 Bluray[Editor’s note: The countdown to The Walking Dead Season Five continues! The fifth season will shamble back to AMC on October 12th. To celebrate, we will feature a  review of each season leading up to the 5th season premiere. We wish to thank Mark Rivera for allowing us to reprint his TWD reviews from his Genreonline site! Today we look at Season Three!]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season: 5 Disc Set

Genre: Drama/Horror

Media: Blu-ray Disc

Region: A

Stars: Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Danai Gurira, Laurie Holden, Sarah Wayne Callies, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Iron E. Singleton, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson and Michael Rooker

 Languages and Sound: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround Sound and French Dolby Surround Sound 2.0 Caption & Subtitles: English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and Spanish Language Subtitles

Bonus Features: Episode Specific Featurettes, Audio Commentaries on Episodes 4, 5, 8, 9 and 15 and Deleted Scenes

Running Time: 688 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Packaging: 5-Disc Elite Blue BD Case With A Cardboard Slip Cover

The Walking Dead Season 3 cast
The Walking Dead Season 3 cast

The third season of the hit AMC original series The Walking Dead, based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, begins strongly with nearly a year having past and Rick and his survivors now operating with stealth like a professional special ops group while moving from place to place until they come upon a prison and decide to take it in the hope of creating a safe and self sufficient haven for themselves. Not too far away exists a fortified town where the survivors under the guidance of The Governor (David Morrissey) seem to have created an idealized mini “Our Town.” Andrea and her savior from the second season finale Michonne (Danai Guira) end up there after being discovered by none other than Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who was last seen trapped on a department store roof in an overrun Atlanta. We know he escaped because when the survivors returned for him in the first season they discovered that he sawed off his own hand to escape the roof.

It is not long before we discover that Woodbury is not the perfect friendly society that it appears to be on the outside and Rick, who has been hardened since the events of the second season, and his group discover that they are not alone in the prison. The whole season basically slowly heads toward what is set up as an inevitable confrontation between Rick Grimes and his group and The Governor and his mercenaries over power and survival.

The acting is top notch and besides introducing Michonne to the TV series, the fan favorite character Tyrese (Chad Coleman) from the graphic novel is introduced as well. The third season has more action than the second season, but the character development is lacking.

Characters that were important in the graphic novel appear and are killed off so fast that there is no time to have any emotional investment in them. The other big problem with the third season is that it reduces the zombie threat to a point where we have barely armed characters traveling for miles in the woods and picking off the walkers like they were a joke.

Let's give this zombie a hand. Or two.
Let’s give this zombie a hand. Or two.

Kirkman has stated that the zombie threat would be intensified for the fourth season and a return to character development would be strictly adhered too. From the online trailers it seems as though the zombies will indeed become far more dangerous than before, but as for everything else, we’ll have to wait and see.

Anchor Bay Entertainment presents the complete third season of The Walking Dead across five discs in their broadcast high definition AVC encoded widescreen aspect ratio of (1.78:1) with an enveloping English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround Soundtrack. A French Language Dolby

Surround 2.0 Soundtrack and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired as well as Spanish Language Subtitles are encoded across all five discs for all of the episodes.

Extra value features include episode length audio commentaries featuring Iron E. Singleton, Guy Ferland, Gregory Nicotero, Danai Guira, Robert Kirkman, Dave Alpert, Gale Anne Hurd, Michael Rooker and Chad Coleman respectively for episodes that include “Killer Within”, “Say The Word”, “Made To Suffer”, the mid season premiere and “This Sorrowful Life.” The commentaries are both retrospective and scene specific.

The majority of the featurettes are on the final disc and they include a reel of deleted scenes (13:20), and behind the scenes shorts detailed as Rising Son (6:46), Guts & Glory (7:31), Moving The Dead (8:04), Safety Behind Bars (9:42), Michonne Vs. The Governor (5:10), Heart of a Warrior (8:24), Gone But Not Forgotten (8:13) and Evil Eye (7:50).

An advertisement for “Before The Farm: The Walking Dead Video Game” (1:08) and a TV spot for Breaking Bad (:33) wrap up the bonus content within this Blu-ray Disc set.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season is available on Blu-ray Disc now at retailers on and offline courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.  For more information visit AMCTV.com.

Check out The Walking Dead Season Five trailer:

TV Review: Z NATION

Z Nation is a Syfy series produced by The Asylum
Z Nation is a Syfy series produced by The Asylum

The saying “One cannot serve two masters” is as true for storytelling as it is for anything else.

The Asylum, the production company that brought viewers Sharknado, is back with an attempt to take on the zombie apocalypse horror sub genre with Z Nation. I saw a screener before it premiered, but wanted to hold off judgment on the show until I saw the final broadcast version just in case there were any last minute changes.

Having checked it twice now, I feel I can safely state objectively what I think of Z Nation. While it may seem unfair to compare it to The Walking Dead, I am going to. Both are primetime basic cable TV series. Both are inspired by other works that came before it and both are trying to get rabid zombie fan as viewers. The differences are obvious; The Walking Dead, from the start, was a superior drama with genuine characters that made us care. Of course the talent involved with The Walking Dead is truthfully better than what the Asylum is offering.

Harold Perrineaulooks LOST in Z NATION
Harold Perrineau looks LOST in Z NATION

Yet I do not fault The Asylum for not having the same caliber of talent in front of and behind the camera because they are up against KNB Effects, one of the best makeup effects providers in the business. Plus the zombies look okay for the most part. The dialogue and acting on the other hand is serviceable at best even with Harold Perrineau in a guest-starring role. Outside of that the only other cast members of note are Tom Everett Scott and DJ Qualls. The rest of the cast appears to be largely unknown, which is fine.

What doesn’t work in Z Nation: the show does not know whether it is to be taken seriously as drama or simply enjoyed as schlock. That is where the two major problems comes into play. You can have a comedy with moments of great drama like MASH and you can have a drama with moments of light comedy as with Ally McBeal. However, you have to define exactly what one is and as far as I can tell, The Asylum wants Z Nation to be both a drama and schlock at the same time. As a result it fails as both.

The actors of Z Nation have a hard time connecting to each other.
The actors of Z Nation have a hard time connecting to each other.

There is nothing new to see here. Cast members look out of place at times as though they don’t know how to play off the material. Right from the first episode, the series seems to ignore the basic rules it sets up for cheap nonsense. As a result I neither liked or disliked Z Nation because the show doesn’t even inspire enough interest to make me care. It is neither fun or gripping. It just feels limp and aimless. You can’t be Zombieland and World War Z at the same time. You have to choose an approach and stick with it or else you risk alienating audiences for both.

Z Nation is unfocused and if it doesn’t decide what it is fast then I think viewers should show “mercy” to quote a term used on the show and skip watching it.

TV Review: The Walking Dead Complete Second Season (BluRay)

The Walking Dead Complete Second Season
The Walking Dead Complete Second Season

[Editor’s note: The countdown to The Walking Dead Season Five continues! 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! Today we look at Season Two!]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season: 4-Disc Set

Region: A

Media: Blu-ray Disc

Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey DeMunn, Chandler Riggs, Iron E. Singleton, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Michael Rooker English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround Sound and French Dolby Surround Sound English Subtitles For The Deaf and Hearing Impaired and Spanish Language Subtitles Bonus Features, Featurettes, Webisodes, Audio Commentaries and Deleted Scenes Home Video Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment MPAA Rating: Not Rated Running Time: 578 minutes

 

Season two of The Walking Dead picks up minutes after the first season finale and with a few departures of the graphic novel series, follows our survivors through the Hershel Farm story-line and all of the actors get the chance to explore and define their characters. Past infidelities leads to a fateful collision between two lawmen who were once akin to brothers toward one another and literally become mortal enemies by the end. The horrors of the world encroach not only from the threat of the walking dead, but also from the inhumanity of the living as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) struggles with the burdens of leadership in an uncertain word. In short, The Walking Dead is the best prime time soap opera on television and it neither exploits nor under uses it’s zombie apocalypse setting because it is that setting that makes the characters come to life in a way that they may never had known had the old world not ended. Does that mean they love their new world? Absolutely not, but it does mean they don’t take being alive for granted.

Shane became a walker without being bitten by a zombie which is the biggest revelation of the series!
Shane became a walker without being bitten by a zombie which is the biggest revelation of the series!

The Walking Dead is shot on super 16mm film to maintain a certain look that the high definition Blu-ray Discs capture spot on with an AVC encoded 1080p/24fps high definition resolution. (You must have an HDTV capable of playing back 1080p to get back the full resolution) The resolution of the (1.78:1) widescreen presentation looks better than the digital cable broadcasts and i’Tunes digital downloads and it also features a terrific English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Lossless Surround Soundtrack. A French Language Dolby Surround Soundtrack and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired as well as Spanish Language Subtitles are encoded onto all four discs containing all thirteen episodes of the second season.

Audio commentaries for the episodes What Lies Ahead featuring Executive Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara, Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer David Alpert, Pretty Much Dead Already featuring Executive Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara, Producer Scott M. Gimple, Director Michelle MacLaren, Editor Julius Ramsay, Nebraska featuring Executive Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara, Co-Executive Producer Evan Reilly, Actor Scott Wilson, Actor Stephen Yeun, Judge, Jury, Executioner featuring Executive Producer/Showrunner Glenn Mazzara, Co-Executive Producer, Makeup Effects Master Greg Nicotero, Writer Angela Kang, Actress Laurie Holden, and Beside The Dying Fire featuring Executive Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara, Director Ernest Dickerson, Co-Executive Producer and Makeup Effects Master Greg Nicotero, Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman, and Actor Norman Reedus are included. These are great retrospective commentaries that are very informative. I really like Glen Mazzara’s style of explaining things and interacting with the other participants and the ease at which he engages the conversation with questions that are interesting and educational. Robert Kirkman is very open about answering questions related to the second season and Gale Anne Hurd is a consummate professional.

Mr. Mazzara also provides optional audio commentary for deleted scenes presented in full HD from eight of the thirteen episodes (29:18) while Greg Nicotero provides commentary for the six part webisode series Torn Apart (19:41). Both feature a “Play All” option for viewing too. Featurettes entitled All The Guts (5:33), Live Or Let Die (6:48), The Meat Of The Music (7:53), Fire On Set (6:09), The Ink Is Alive (9:05), The Sound Of The Effects (4:30), In The Dead Water (5:05), You Could Make A Killing (6:19), She Will Fight (5:39), The Cast On Season 2 (4:49) and

Extras Wardrobe (2:47) wrap up the bonus features included within this excellent Blu-ray Disc set.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season: 4-Disc Set is available on Blu-ray Disc now at retailers on and offline courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

TV Review: The Walking Dead Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

Picture of Andrew Lincoln with an undead co-star

Walking Dead Season One Blu Ray Box Art - Zombies!

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON ONE

[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

Region: A

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

 

Picture of Andrew Lincoln with an undead co-star
Picture of Andrew Lincoln with an undead co-star

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.

 

A scene from the pilot episode
A scene from the pilot episode

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: