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THE WALKING DEAD: 1ST SEASON...
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Various

Starring:
Andrew Lincoln
Jon Bernthal
Laurie Holden
Sarah Wayne Callies
Emma Bell

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
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 digress.

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 nearly flawless.

Audio is also expertly mixed in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. This is a great sounding show.
The Extras
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.
Last Call
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 need this.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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