The Walking Dead Complete First Season Blu-Ray (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, March 13, 2011
There’s two ways you can look at the first season of The Walking Dead on AMC. Either AMC didn’t have a lot of confidence in the show and thus only ordered six episodes OR you can look at it as the mere fact that any network even put on a show about a zombie apocalypse shows that they believed in it strongly. I prefer the latter and AMC has rewarded fans by green-lighting a full 13 episodes for season two. The series is of course based on the long-running comic book of the same name that has been around since 2003. This is a fact that is fun to point out to non-comic book fans as most automatically assume anything based on a comic has to be about superheroes. Appropriately enough, the series debuted on Halloween 2010 with a 90 minute episode.
Rick Grimes, sheriff of a small Georgia town is critically wounded in a shootout and falls into a coma. When Rick awakens days later, he finds the entire world has changed. The hospital is abandoned and he was left for dead. As Rick staggers outside, he finds hundreds of bodies piled up and wrapped in sheets and the town deserted. His first encounter with the undead is the crawling upper torso of a female zombie which causes him to flee in panic. After finding his wife and son have disappeared, Rick encounters father and son Morgan and Duane Jones, holed up in their home and first learns about the zombie outbreak. Determined to find his family Rick undertakes a dangerous trek to Atlanta , only to find the city completely overrun by zombies. Trapped, rick is rescued by Glenn, and soon discovers a small band of survivors are living in the wilderness outside of Atlanta but make frequent foraging missions into the city for supplies. Among the survivors: his wife Lori and son Carl, and his deputy Shane who has begun an affair with his wife believing that Rick was dead. This small band of survivors tries to eke out an existence, under constant threat of attack from The Walking Dead.
The biggest concern among fans of the comic and of zombies in general was whether or not AMC would do the genre justice. After all, this may be cable but its basic cable and while AMC has produced the edgy “Breaking Bad”, this was a whole new egg to crack. Fears were quelled in the opening episode as Rick encounters the torso zombie (referred to as Bicycle Girl) crawling across the ground and dragging her entrails behind. And if that satisfy the average zombie fan, episode two called “Guts” certainly did. Here, Rick and several more survivors had to chop up a zombie with an ax and smear its guts all over them so they could pass through the hordes of undead on the streets unnoticed. Clearly AMC has given series creator Frank Darabont enormous creative freedom. The TV show follows the comic series closely, but not exactly. This is by design. Comic series creator Robert Kirkman wanted the show to have some differences with the comic series so fans that have followed the comic will have some surprises along the way.
While the Walking Dead is a zombie show it’s also just as much about the diverse group of often dysfunctional characters. There is the romantic triangle between Rick, Lori, and Shane. There is the sub-plot of redneck brothers Merle and Daryl Dixon when Merle is left behind in the city to fend for himself. Tension boils over between Shane and abusive husband, Ed. While there is a good deal of zombie action, the great characters and sub-plots ensures that the show never gets boring. Also credit the outstanding make-up and visual FX teams. They pull no punches. The make-up and FX of the zombies is as good, if not better than anything you get in a theatrical film. And most encouraging is that the ratings were consistent. Two episodes, including the series one finale actually pulled a higher rating than the debut episode showing that The Walking Dead maintained and even grew its audience.
Going into season two we have a lot of questions to resolve…What has happened to Daryl? What has become of Morgan and Duane Jones? And where will the group go now that the CDC has been destroyed? I can’t wait to find out!
The two-disc set includes a plethora of extra features
The Making of the Walking Dead (30:00) – Taking the story from graphic novel to the small screen. Producer/Creator Frank Darabont, a huge comic fan, talks about buying the first Walking Dead trade paperback in a comic store in California and immediately began working on the rights. Comic series creator Robert Kirkman shares his initial skepticism about it being handled by AMC but quickly was won over by the network’s overwhelming support. You get to see how the effect of the Bicycle Girl torso was created and how the group shot in the actual CDC for the season finale.
Inside the Walking Dead (31:00) – This is a series of six featurettes, one for each episode and running approx. five minutes in length. These take a deeper look at the behind-the-scenes of the individual episodes.
A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman (4:51) Kirkman on set of the final day of shooting and giving fans a preview of the series. Mostly a promotional piece.
Behind the Scenes Zombie Make-up Tips (6:46) - Make-up Supervisor hosts a short piece on turning someone into a zombie using everyday items you can find at home or in a Halloween store.
Convention Panel (11:33) – A panel from the 2010 Comic Con featuring Darabont, Kirkman, and several cast members answering questions about the series.
Zombie School (3:00) – In order for the extras to play zombies, they had to attend zombie school to learn how to move and moan.
Bicycle Girl (5:07) – A look at the make-up for the series most memorable zombie, the half-torso, rotted girl. They found and actress who was extremely thin to give the look of a decomposed corpse and the make-up took over three hours to apply.
On the Set With Robert Kirkman (5:00) – Kirkman pays a visit to the set and takes viewers on a tour.
Hanging with Steven Yeun (3:53) – A short feature with Steven Yeun who plays Glenn. Yeun relates a funny story about reading the entire first book in a book store but never buying it.
Inside Dale’s RV (3:30) – A tour of Dale’s vintage 1977 Winnebago with all the comforts of home
On set with Andrew Lincoln (3:45) – Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes talks about his role as the lead character in the series.
Mania Grade: A
TV Series: The Walking Dead Season One (Blu-ray)
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeffrey DeMunn
Written By: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont
Directed By: Various
Distributor: Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2010
Extras: See Below
Series: Walking Dead