THE WALKING DEAD: 1ST SEASON...
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Sarah Wayne Callies
What's it about
Police officer Rick Grimes leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies.
Is it good movie?
Note: Portions of this review come from my previous review of the DVD version of this show.
Tv's landscape has undoubtedly changed over the years. Sitcoms aren't
interesting anymore, and the 'major' mainstream networks like ABC and
NBC and so on just aren't producing what they used to. In fact, it has
literally been years since I've even had cable in my home. But I
Today, you can undoubtedly find some awesome TV if you try, but you'll
have to look at the up and coming networks (although HBO is pretty
unstoppable and puts out some awesome stuff). Shows like Dexter, Mad
Men and Breaking Bad have so drastically changed the television
landscape that it seems like network TV has all but given up and has
solely turned its attention to "reality" shows. Stuff like The Bachelor
and Jersey Shore signal the end times, if you ask me.
For me, there's been no bigger game changer than AMC's The Walking
Dead, which hit airwaves last Halloween night to AMC's largest debut
audience ever. Directed, written and produced by Frank Darabont; you
know that there's some hard work and quality in this guy's past.
The Walking Dead tells the story of sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes
(Andrew Lincoln). After being injured in the line of duty, Grimes wakes
up from a coma to find that everyone in the hospital where he is being
treated is dead. finally stumbles out of the hospital, the former
sheriff begins to realize that death surrounds him everywhere, not just
in the blank white walls of the hospital. All Rick wants to do is
return home to find his wife and young son, which becomes exacerbated
by the fact that everywhere he goes, he finds the living dead standing
in his way. That's right, the dead are once again animated and are now
roaming the streets as 'walkers'.
This was a truly ambitious project. I recently finished the omnibus of
the comic (graphic novel? is that the cool way to say it?) and knew
that this show had a lot to live up to, if it was going to capture the
great writing and emotion layered within the pages of its source
material. I was undoubtedly skeptical, but at the same time what I'd
seen of the show looked promising.
The beautiful thing here is that they got it right, and the creators
are taking some shots directly from the comic, while other parts of the
show have been completely original and new to the storyline, which
strikes a great balance. On top of this , there's a LOT of story to get
through if they choose to keep even somewhat on the comic's path.
There is real emotion behind this story, and the cast is more than up
to the task presented to them. The show isn't simply about Grimes, but
involves the intricate web of survivors he comes into contact with.
Along the way he meets up with various survivors with their own stories
and struggles, and each and every character in the first season has a
role to play. You get to know and love them (in some cases hate them),
and I was really affected by the deaths of a few characters as the show
went on. Michael Rooker is still awesome, and his character (although
at times detestable) is fantastically memorable and a welcome addition
to the story arc.
The pacing of the show isn't lightning fast, and some episodes have
more oomph to them than others. You can take this as criticism if you
like, but I know it's my personal opinion that many others don't share.
I think that this series (if it keeps running, and I hope it will) is
going to end up being one of the most memorable shows in quite some
time. With that said, this season seemed a bit like a set-up for the
real meat to come. I'm not saying it's lousy (and the show REALLY picks
up the pace about halfway through with a jaw-dropping episode that is
easily the strongest of the bunch) at all, but I just kept waiting for
things to really start going and when they did the season ended.
For me I think it's a case of every time I logged into a social media
site, I'd read about how ZOMG WALKING DEAD IS TEH BEST SHOW ALL TIMEZ,
and I just never felt that way. I never missed an episode, I think the
cast is awesome and I like where the story's going but again this
season felt like a good setup for a true payoff later. I suppose I just
never felt like this season was something that kept me on my toes and
salivating for more, until the last few episodes. Believe me when I say
though, these are minor gripes. This show is top-notch production, cast
and writing wise.
Video / Audio
Video comes in Widescreen (1.78:1) 1080p and is
Audio is also expertly mixed in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. This is a
great sounding show.
There's a whole host of stuff to be found here, and I'll start by
rehashing the stuff that was on the DVD, which appears here as well.
The Making of The Walking Dead is
the main meat here, taking up a half an hour and is mostly concerned
with the production of the show, with lots of talking head clips and
the standard stuff. Interesting, but typical.
Inside the Walking Dead is
another half an hour of stuff, which is split into six five minute
features about each episode. This is basically a hardcore synopsis of
each episode that gives a bit more insight into what's going on.
A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman
is likely a network clip that aired before the show began detailing
what you'll see in the show's first season. Neat inclusion, but he
doesn't present a lot of new material.
Zombie Make-Up tips come from
Greg Nicotero, and this is awesome! He gives great tips on ghastly FX
makeup that you can use around your place on Halloween, or any old
night you want to scare your weird neighbors across the street.
The Con Panel with Producers is
exactly that- Comic Con footage from the people who brought you this
show. It too tends to get a bit repetitive, but does offer a bit more
behind the scenes stuff.
Zombie School is an awesome
little featurette about becoming a zombie, if you're an actor. We get
to see how they were trained to walk, act and conduct themselves
generally. In an awesome little bit of trivia, its worth noting that
the zombies all watched Night of the Living Dead for inspiration.
Bicycle Girl is another awesome
bit about the first ghastly undead creature Rick runs into, who's sort
of missing the other half of her body .This is a really cool story and
has some awesome 'making of' shot progressions.
On Set with Robert Kirkman is a
quick tour with the comic's creator as he discusses what it's like to
see his vision come to life.
Hanging with Steven Yeun is a
brief moment with one of the show's actors, who plays Glenn. This is a
nice little piece because the dude was a huge fan before the role and
he gives some good inside information.
Inside Dale's RV and On Set with Andrew Lincoln are a
couple of bits that round out the disc and are pretty self explanatory,
one is a tour of a character's RV that you see a bit during the show
and what's inside, and the other is a day spent with the lead actor as
he films Episode 4 of the season.
The disc rounds out with a trailer
for The Walking Dead.
As for the new stuff, here we go:
Because this review is already criminally long, I'll make this part
short but know that each episode now features a commentary track from different cast
and crew members. Frank Darabont, Greg Nicotero, episode directors,
Andrew Lincoln, Robert Kirkman, Emma Bell, Laurie Holden, the list goes
on. They're not all great commentaries because a few have dead air and
there's a bit of self-indulgence, but for the most part they're a lot
of fun to listen to and chock full of goodies.
That wacky (and dearly departed from the series..you bastards) Frank
Darabont loves showing his sh*t in black and white and so we get an
option to watch the pilot that
way. I love this stuff and found this steeped the show in atmosphere
and looked great.
We Are the Walking Dead runs
almost an hour long and is super in-depth touching in each episode.
You'll learn a lot here, this is very thorough and deals with a lot of
the real challenges of making a show like this- you don't often think
of how hard it would be but the work shines through.
There's more effects stuff in Bring
out the Dead: KNB and the Art of Making Zombies, which runs
about 15 minutes long and gives another good look at the awesome
effects of Mr. Nicotero's crew. This could be three hours long and I'd
watch every second.
Digital Decay: The VFX of the Walking
Dead is another 12 minute piece about how digital work is added
to enhance the practical effects rather than replace them. Really
interesting and better than you might expect.
No More Room in Hell: The Walking Dead
and Adapting the Dead
run about 20 minutes together and deal with how tough it was to bring
the original comic book to life. People, if you haven't read this
comic, you absolutely must. Not to be "cool", but I read this far
before I knew the show would exist and I still read it today.
Killer Conversations runs
another 12 minutes and really wraps things up as it's a frank and
honest conversation between Greg Nicotero and Frank Darabont, two of
horror's more brilliant contributors.
I have absolutely nothing else to say about this. Buy it if you're a
horror fan. It's damn near perfect and if you like the show at all, you