[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5493&w=o[/img]Title: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Norman Reedus among others
Directed by: Frank Darabont
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 292 Minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2011
"The world ended....didn't you get the memo?"
Problem is, Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) didn't get the memo. The Walking Dead TV series begins with Rick waking up out of a mild coma. Alone, parched and connected by tubes and wires to hospital equipment that no longer functions, Rick barely has any recollection of the events that landed him there. More importantly, he has absolutely no knowledge of what's happened to the world since he was shot. Stumbling barefoot out of bed, wearing only bandages and a hospital gown, Rick finds what appears to be an empty hospital, but more closely resembles a war zone. Surrounded by death, blood, and destruction, he finally discovers a door that's barred with chains, locks and a warning: "Don't Open. Dead Inside." Terrified by his first encounter with the living dead, Rick manages to escape the hospital only to find a parking lot stacked with hundreds of lifeless corpses and evidence of a military stand that obviously failed. Alongside Rick, we, the audience, will slowly piece together what has happened during these past few weeks as the story unfolds around him.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]Rick finds an abandoned bicycle and rides furiously to his house. When he arrives, he finds that his wife and son are missing. Is he dreaming or is he awake? Can what he's seen be real? Once he comes to grips with reality, Rick realizes his wife and son must still be alive. Things are missing from the house, but not the things you'd normally be missing from a robbery. They've packed a small amount of clothes and the family photo albums. Riding high on hope, Rick goes outside to collect his thoughts. He sees a man lumbering towards him. Just as Rick reaches out and almost speaks to the man, another man walks up, puts a snub nose pistol barrel to the "walker's" temple and blows his brains out. From unconsciousness, to consciousness and back again, Rick is then mistaken for a walker by the man's son and is knocked out cold from a blow to the face from his shovel.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]When Rick wakes up again, he's tied down to a bed. Standing over him is Morgan (Lennie James) and his son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner). Morgan demands to know how Rick was injured. Was he bitten? Scratched? Morgan makes it perfectly clear to Rick that he will not think twice about killing him if he was. Rick convinces the father and son that his injury is from a gunshot only, so they decide to cut him loose. All the windows in the house are covered with blankets as the three share a meal together. It's at this point that Morgan explains to Rick the events that led to this zombie apocalypse (for lack of a better description). Rick learns about Morgan's wife, Duane's mother, and her eventual infection. A bond forms between these three this evening as Rick realizes that not only did Morgan prepare him for the hell that awaits them outside that house, but also that he probably saved his life.
The next morning, Rick takes Morgan and Duane to the Sheriff's station, both for a once unappreciated hot shower, and also to arm them with a good supply of weapons. Morgan informs Rick that he and Duane are going to stay behind to take care of some unfinished business while Rick leaves for the city of Atlanta where it's rumored that help and safety can be found. Rick and Morgan eventually part with radios so that they can communicate and later coordinate a reunion.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]Along the road to Atlanta, Rick's vehicle runs out of gas. Gas stations were long ago drained dry of their supplies, so he stopped at a farm looking for help. Luckily, Rick finds an abandoned horse, so he strolls slowly into the city of Atlanta on horseback against the eerie, coverart backdrop of an empty highway leading into the city beside five lanes of gridlocked abandoned cars leading away from his destination. Once inside the city, it's more of the same: abandoned, destruction, military overrun...zombies don't appear to be a threat, but at the same time, Atlanta doesn't appear to be the beacon of hope it was once rumored. All of a sudden, Rick hears a helicopter. He looks up to see the reflection of a military helicopter briefly in the reflection of a skyscraper, so he runs his horse around the block to try and hail the chopper. But, as soon as he turns the corner, he runs into a wall of thousands of zombies. Terrified, his horse rears up on its hind legs. He turns to flee in the direction he came only to find he's been boxed in. This time the bucking horse throws Rick from its back, sending he and his bag of weapons crashing to the ground. Just out of reach, Rick cannot grab the bag of guns as countless zombies close in on him fast. He draws his trusty Colt Python as he crawls under an abandoned military tank for cover. With six rounds remaining in his sidearm, Rick desperately puts each one to good use sending bullet after bullet through the brain of oncoming zombies crawling under the tank after him. The empty revolver clicks. He's trapped! His fate sealed, Rick stares up at the camera and offers up a final apology to his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) for failing them....
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]And, we're not even out of episode one yet, folks! Based off the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead is an original, extremely character-driven TV series with the production value of a big-time feature film. I realize that the opening sequence is very 28 Days Later, but by in large, the concepts in this budding mega show are powerfully creative in a sub-genre that's often characterized as overdone. However, where this series succeeds most is in the gripping character-driven acting as there is no weak link in this cast. When a new world is violently thrust upon the survivors, unlikely physical, emotional and psychological scenerios crop up to challenge the once morally driven. How do you deal with putting down a loved one? How do you deal with power hungry hotheads that are now able to weild the weapons they've been forced by society to keep hidden away? Do you take your best friend's family under your wing after he's died? To follow or to lead? To kill, refuse to kill or be eaten? Survival becomes your only remaining goal in a world where life may cease to be worth living for. The Walking Dead has it all as no expense is spared in bringing this special effects-heavy, zombie apocolypse right into your very own living room.
This TV series has not been rated, but does contain some fairly violent and frightening sequences, even for late-night TV. Under normal circumstances, the kiddies would already be in bed when this aires, so the same recommendation applies when watching the blu-rays.
The Walking Dead comes crashing onto your screen sporting a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Having a few episodes saved on my HD-DVR for comparison, I must say the transfer looks very good. Often, textures and foreground detail come through with even more clarity than previously witnessed during the original series. Grimy, distressed and destroyed evironments are very well presented especially for a TV show. Camera swaps go soft often, especially noticible during scenes at the campground, but these shouldn't be too much of a distraction. Film grain is heavy to very heavy, but supports a gritty feel that is most certainly intentional. Contrast is deep with minimal instances of blacks crushing as nighttime shots are masterfully represented. During the scene where Morgan talks about his wife, the house is shrouded in candlelight and while the shadows dominate, the camera never loses the detail in the profile of his face. Color is accurate, but drab for the most part. That said, during daylight scenes bright, vivid colors come to the forefront for a nice contrast. Some minimal posterization will crop up from time to time as well, but these instances are negligible for the most part and they are sandwiched between beautifully shot, highly textured and detailed video that accurately embody the visceral violence on screen. Not entirely without its flaws, this video transfer of high-def television is still fairly impressive.
The Walking Dead features a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track that is very impressive for a television series. Immediately noticible are the immersive effects of detailed channel panning and ambient noise that work every speaker and truely engross you in the moment. The front soundstage comes alive with gunfire, explosions and car chases, while the sounds of katydids, birds, rainfall and the distant moaning of thousands of undead enclose you from the surrounds. Dialogue is never lost and is accurately on display for much of the track. Shotgun blasts, rolling thunder, hissing, gutteral zombie groans, blaring sirens and a beautifully orchestrated score; this track has much to offer and does everything well. My only complaint, although minor, is that sometimes I didn't feel the bass track was as prominent as it should have been. I've often noticed this with TrueHD encodes, and it helps to recommend you increase the volume an extra 5-10 decibels, but this may really put on display just how loud some scenes really are. Nevertheless, this is very trivial as every other aspect of this track is flawlessly handled.
Looks like there's a lot here, and not too bad for less than $25. However, for a 2-disk set, I really hoped for more. Hopefully, future seasons will go a little more behind the scenes.
- The Making of The Walking Dead
- Inside The Walking Dead
- A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman
- Behind the Scenes Zombie Make-Up Tips
- Convention Panel with Producers
- The Walking Dead Trailer
- Zombie School
- Bicycle Girl
- On Set with Robert Kirkman
- Hanging with Steven Yeun
- Inside Dale's RV
- On Set with Andrew Lincoln (a Brit, BTW. I had no idea at first! )
OK, I'll admit...I'm as big a zombie fan as they come. The license plate on my car is: ZOMB3Z. But, make no mistake, this is a fantastic TV series. The story is creative with some situational dynamics I've never before seen in literally hundreds of other zombie movies. The series is deeply character-driven and the cast has been meticulously assembled. Not to mention, we've barely scratched the surface of Kirkman's The Walking Dead graphic novel/comic book series. All this combined with the production and special effects that far surpass anything you normally will find on television. Reviewer bias aside, The Walking Dead is arguably the best new show on TV, it sports an artistically beautiful video transfer and a near-perfect audio track making the 2-disk Blu-ray well worth less than 25 bones. Even if zombies aren't your thing, I'm confident that everyone will find something to get excited over. You only live once (well, twice if you get bit) so if you have a pulse, my recommendation would be to run, not Walk to your nearest zombie apocalypse supply store and stock up on The Walking Dead on Blu-ray today.