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The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season(TV) (2010)
The Walking Dead tells the story of the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse and follows a small group of survivors traveling across the United States in search of a new home away from the hordes of zombies. The group is led by Rick Grimes, who was a police officer in the old world. As their situation grows more and more grim, the group's desperation to survive pushes them to do almost anything to stay alive.
For more about The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season and the The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see the The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 25, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Norman Reedus
Directors: Frank Darabont, Ernest R. Dickerson, Guy Ferland, Greg Nicotero
» See full cast & crew
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Run, don't walk, to pick up a copy of this excellent Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 25, 2011
This is our extinction event.
Which is worth more in a hypothetical "zombie apocalypse:" firearms or humanity? Guile or compassion? Heroism or common sense? Or is the answer really balance, a tightrope walk between understanding the moral cost of both fighting and living in a zombie world and maintaining humanity in the absence of it? The zombie genre, at its core, isn't about zombies. It's about people and the way they adapt to a radically new way of life that's thrust upon them with no warning, instantly and forever altering the "facts of life" and immediately engendering a need for new skill sets, thought processes, and habits. It's about expectations for life that change on a dime and rest on the fates and adaptability of both oneself and others. It requires of those who wish to live on -- not only in the physical sense but from psychological and emotional perspectives, too -- to set aside all that mattered in the world as it was and draw up a new plan of attack to survive not only the undead but the foolish amongst the living, those who would blindly hang onto the past and try to maneuver into power, prestige, or wealth even though money and stature no longer hold value to the world at large. It's a two-front war, a battle against both the undead and the old way of life, fighting the former with weapons and the latter with brains and the right attitude. It's a moral quagmire: fighting the zombies -- chopping flesh, shooting heads -- requires some detachment from basic human decency, to do unto others what no sane person would in a normal world, while also realizing that more than ever it's that core decency and the best of basic human qualities that are going to be critical components within a world, someday, hopefully, reclaimed by the living. The Zombie genre is one ripe for smart stories that balance basic action elements with the greater understanding of what's really at the center of the best zombie tales. The Walking Dead walks that fine line fairly well; it puts its characters and their struggles first and the grisly violence second. The series strays from time to time, but at its core lies a basic tale that's about humanity and the need to keep it when the world at large strips it away with every zombie put down, every friend turned, each loved one lost, and with every glimpse into the farthest reaches of chaos.
Police Officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has been wounded in the line of duty. He awakens in the hospital some time later, alone. Flowers beside his bed have wilted. The clock on the wall has ceased to operate. He pulls himself from his bed, in considerable pain, still connected to monitors and his IV. He searches the hospital for help; first his corridor, then, the hospital at large. Nobody's there; discolored, misshapen, and badly wounded arms attempt to break free from behind a chained and padlocked door. Half-eaten bodies line the hallways and a makeshift morgue in the hospital parking lot has long been abandoned. Grimes returns home to find his wife Lori and son Carl gone, the house abandoned, clothes and family pictures missing. He learns a painful truth: the dead have risen and are killing the living, devouring flesh and mindlessly meandering about the streets, looking for living tissue to sustain what life they have. Rick stumbles upon a kindly father (Lennie James) and his son trying to scavenge what they can while keeping to the shadows and out of the line of sight from the undead "Walkers." Rick, determined to find his family, sets out on his own when his wounds have healed and he's armed himself and his new friends from the still-stocked police weapons locker. He sets out to Atlanta hoping to find survivors who can point him towards his family, but what he discovers instead is a devastated city, covered in blood, littered with abandoned military equipment, and swarming with the undead. Only a miracle -- or a godsend voice over a radio -- can save Rick from the army of Walkers and his own uncertainty about what, exactly, has happened to the world he once called home.
The Walking Dead's opening minutes may be influenced by 28 Days Later -- the sudden, unaware thrust into a world gone mad and the confusion that follows -- but AMC's show quickly proves to be its own entity, not merely a rehash of that or other, similar genre pieces. The series focuses on a band of survivors and the challenges they face that are not only a result of a world populated by the walking dead but varied problems of their own making that threaten to destroy them from the inside out. Whether that's personal maneuvering, old beliefs that didn't apply in the old world and certainly have no place in the new, or the introduction of the all-too-personal realities of life after death's reanimation, The Walking Dead covers all the thematic and emotional bases necessary considering the series' peoples and places. Indeed, the show is built around real emotions and the all-too-real people who harbor them; separated families, confused relationships, uncertain futures, and general chaos shape every action while bending -- sometimes breaking -- both strong and fragile relationships alike. The series revels in the challenges of a world gone mad; its best sequence sees a husband and father faced with the opportunity to put down his zombified wife. Oh how difficult it would be, her face once a radiant and beautiful example of God's handiwork suddenly and menacingly altered by Satan's sinister brush; her once glowing eyes now aimlessly blank save for the basic hunger behind them; and now, the crosshairs of a rifle aligned over her temple for her own sake and that of her soulmate on the other end, her fate sealed but his humanity rightly telling him that "killing" her is both the right and wrong thing to do. The Walking Dead is both challenging and smart, a chronicle of everyday people forced into extraordinary lives and constantly dealing with realities that days before were not even fantasies but instead true, unspeakable horrors the likes of which only seemed to exist in fiction.
The best zombie films, series, books, whatever do seem to require a hard look at humanity as a primary focus to succeed, but they also need a counterbalance to round them into form. Of course, that comes in the form of violence, gore, and perhaps most importnat, an adherence to realism, at least insofar as man might conjecture what would likely happen in the event of an all-out zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead delivers all three in spades in a secondary role to the show's lifeblood drama; it's a hardcore, grisly, and an oftentimes emotionally challenging venture that dares to not only personalize the action but show the results in the gruesome detail, the final piece of the puzzle to creating a truly "real to hypothetical life" venture. The show opens with lead character Rick Grimes unflinchingly shooting a young girl of but nine or ten -- zombified, of course -- through the head. It's a signal that the show means business, that nothing is off-limits, and the scene plays as infinitely more genuine than the baby zombie killing in the violent and grisly but generally heartless remake/re-imagining of Dawn of the Dead. Just as enticing, the show is nearly as gory as anything zombie-related out there; bodies are seen hacked to pieces, a torso crawls through a grassy field trailing intestines and a rotting bone where a fleshy leg once resided, and gunshots seem to be met with realistic results. The show, by extension, is gloriously bleak; not only does the gritty 16mm shoot lend a dirty, grimy feel to the proceedings, but the realism of the violence and gore combined with the emotional turmoil and inner and outer devastation of the characters and the world around them really brings the series together as a hallmark Zombie event that may not top the original Dawn of the Dead as the genre's best, but one that certainly resides near the top of the heap.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Walking Dead debuts on Blu-ray with a deliberately rough and series-accurate 1080p Blu-ray transfer. Though modern convention calls for television series to be shot on HD video, The Walking Dead was captured primarily on 16mm film, giving the series a gritty, unkempt façade that lends to it a unique texture in support of the series' dark themes, grisly violence, and general sense of despair. Though the image occasionally goes soft and never appears razor-sharp, Anchor Bay's transfer nevertheless sports high-quality details as evident on police uniforms and patches, building textures, natural greenery, and all of the series' realistic gore. Colors favor a faded, worn appearance, but green foliage; a bright sports car; or other, flashier hues are handled with ease and displayed with a fairly natural tone. Blacks are deep, nighttime shots are absorbing and true, and crush is minimal. Though a touch of banding and a few bouts of blockiness are evident from time to time, the transfer captures the depressed look of the original elements quite well. It's a good look that's handled with much accuracy on Blu-ray.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Walking Dead arrives on Blu-ray with a high-quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This is an action-packed mix that's never lacking in either volume or space; blaring car alarms and police sirens penetrate the soundstage with ear-piercing ease, general directional effects are splendid, and the surrounds carry plenty of the action. Gunshots tear through the speakers with startling accuracy, but shotgun blasts are the most fun; the heavy booms lumber through the soundstage with a bone-rattling precision, a battle with zombies at the end of episode four really putting the hurt on both the undead and the aural senses. A .357 magnum round fired within the metallic and tiny confines of a tank brings a disorienting and steady hum of raw power that stretches the limits of the sound system for a good minute or so. General sound effects are also delivered with both an effortlessness and a fine sense of space, whether chirping birds and buzzing insects that live on in the zombie apocalypse or distant rolling thunder that signals a coming downpour at a most inopportune time. Music is spacious and clear, the orchestral score finding a nice balance between excitingly bold and frighteningly intense. Dialogue reproduction never misses a beat. The Walking Dead sounds fantastic on Blu-ray; Anchor Bay's given the series the exact sort of high-caliber track it needs to really pull in the audience and more greatly personalize the experience through sound.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Walking Dead lumbers onto Blu-ray with all of its extra content contained on disc two of this two-disc set. Though no audio commentaries are included, the set does contains a plethora of featurettes.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Walking Dead is the complete package, a show that moves fast, hits hard, and is built around drama first and grisly violence and action second. Needless to say, Zombie genre fans will eat it up and wonder what's taking so long to get the second season rolling. Even non-fans might find an allure in the show for its good characterization and the overreaching theme that is humanity -- saving it and losing it at the same time -- and its place in a world following a devastating breakdown of civilization. AMC really hit a home run with this show; here's hoping the second season stays true to the goodness on which the first season has been so carefully built. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of The Walking Dead features a strong 1080p transfer, a great lossless soundtrack, and a nice assortment of extra content. Highly recommended.
The Walking Dead: Other Seasons
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The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray - March 8-14 - March 10, 2011
Zombies are notoriously hard to kill, and that applies also to the zombie genre at large. Despite having a much more limited dramatic range than other horror monsters, they continue to thrive, with authors and filmmakers having repeated shots at them. Now they ...
• The Walking Dead Season One Blu-ray Announced and Detailed - January 6, 2011
Anchor Bay Entertainment has revealed the final details for The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season, which will hit store shelves on March 8. The release will consist of two Blu-ray discs including the six episodes of the first season of this post-apocalyptic ...
• Anchor Bay to Release The Walking Dead Blu-ray - December 1, 2010
AMC and Anchor Bay Entertainment have announced that the home video label will distribute The Walking Dead: Season One on Blu-ray and DVD in the US and Canada. This series, based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, premiered ...
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