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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Walking Dead The Complete First Season

TV Reviews

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted March 04 2011 - 01:55 PM

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THE WALKING DEAD The Complete First Season BLU-RAY


Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Year: 2010

Rated: Not Rated

Film Length: 4 hours, 52 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish


Release Date: March 8, 2011


The Series


The Walking Dead is the story of a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse who fight for their lives in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia. Chief among this group are Sheriff Rick Grimes(Andrew Lincoln) and his partner Shane Walsh(Jon Bernthal). Rick’s wife Lori(Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl(Chandler Riggs) are also among the survivors. Glenn(Steven Yeun) is a former pizza deliveryman whose intimate knowledge of the streets of Atlanta is invaluable to the group. Andrea(Laurie Holden) and Amy(Emma Bell) are sisters who come under the group’s protection. Dale(Jeffrey DeMunn) is a retired widower whose classic Winnebago becomes a refuge of sorts for the group.


The Walking Dead is based on the Eisner Award-winning comic book series written by Robert Kirkman. The TV series premiered on the AMC Network in October and November 2010 to stellar ratings and great acclaim. The series is produced by Gale Ann Hurd(Aliens, The Terminator) and Frank Darabont(The Shawshank Redemption). Darabont also wrote and directed the pilot episode.


The Walking Dead’s high level of quality and originality was surely a pleasant surprise to the audience that has been exposed to countless zombie horror films in the last 50 years. The series has, in its brief first season, avoided the trap of routine and predictability that so many other series fall into so easily. Some fans expressed disappointment with the evolution of the story after the first couple of episodes but I found the quality of the series to be consistently high throughout the season. The situation is never really stable for this group of survivors, and that unpredictability and inability to guess what might happen next is part of this series’ charm. The writers have realized the importance of full-fleshed characters to maintain the audience’s interest with some interesting personal dynamics beyond the issue of their survival. The high ratings for the first season prompted AMC to increase its order for episodes of the second season to 13 episodes; one hopes that the next season will retain this quality of awe and surprise for the audience.


All 6 episodes from the first season are included in this 2-disc set. The first four episodes are on disc 1 with the final 2 episodes and all of the special features on disc 2. The episodes are as follows:


Days Gone By(1:07:03)

Guts(44:42)

Tell It To The Frogs(45:11)

Vatos(44:54)

Wildfire(45:14)

TS-19(45:21)


Video


The Walking Dead appears on Blu-Ray in 1080p in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio as originally filmed. The negative format for the series was originally 16mm film printed up to 35mm but you would never know that from the sublime video presentation. Film grain is ubiquitous even while the video retains high contrast. Deliberately muted colors and pale skin tones (even on the living) arguably lends itself well to this genre in setting the tone. Shadow detail is excellent.  This set presents an excellent video presentation of the series that surpasses anything that you might have seen of this series on television, even in high definition.


Audio


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks are fairly immersive in the outdoor scenes in which directional audio is used to great effect for the sounds of flies, mosquitos, crickets, and other insects. The score composed by Bear McCreary(Battlestar Galactica) is used to full dramatic effect but never overwhelms dialogue or sound effects. The audio approaches standards of reference quality more closely than we might expect from a TV series.


Special Features


There is a wealth of special features divided into 2 categories, Featurettes and Extra Footage. The special features are all in 1080p high definition and include all of the following:


  Featurettes


The Making of The Walking Dead(29:53): This featurette includes interviews, episode footage, and behind the scenes footage as well as a brief summary of the zombie film genre.


Inside The Walking Dead: All 6 episodes have a separate featurette with running times as follows:

Episode 1(5:22)

Episode 2(5:04)

Episode 3(4:51)

Episode 4(5:03)

Episode 5(5:31)

Episode 6(5:15)


A Sneak Peek With Robert Kirkman(4:51): A camera crew follows creator Kirkman during a visit to the set during filming of the pilot episode.


Behind The Scenes: Zombie Make-Up Tips(6:45): This featurette demonstrates the make-up techniques used on the series that can be duplicated by anyone who wants to dress up as a zombie.


Convention Panel With Producers(11:32): This is a highlight reel of the presentation made by producers and cast members to attendees of Comic Con International 2010 in San Diego.


Trailer(1:03): Trailer for The Walking Dead.


  Extra Footage (Most or all of the following featurettes appeared originally on the

  AMC website.)


Zombie School(2:58): This shows the training of extras to look and behave like zombies.


Bicycle Girl(5:06): Includes time lapse photography of the makeup applied to one of the first zombies encountered by Rick Grimes in the pilot.


On Set With Robert Kirkman(3:07): Creator Kirkman offers a brief preview of the TV series.


Hanging With Steven Yeun(3:52): The actor who plays Glen provides his thoughts on the series.


Inside Dale’s RV(3:25): Jeffrey DeMunn gives us a walkthrough of the 1977 Winnebago that is Dale’s home.


On Set With Andrew Lincoln(1:31): The actor who plays Rick talks about the series while filming occurs nearby.


The discs come enclosed in a clamshell case which includes a paper insert for graphic novel series and a second insert that resembles a public service announcement poster to help you identify "walkers.". Disc 1 also includes the following trailers prior to the main menu: Breaking Bad(1:03), I Spit On Your Grave(1:23), and Frozen(1:52).


Conclusion


The Walking Dead Season 1 on Blu-ray is a great collection of the entire series to date. The video and audio presentation are excellent and the set is crammed with special features, all in high definition, for fans of the series. If the second season of 13 episodes premiering in Fall 2011 can maintain the high standard of these initial episodes, then we are all in for a treat. The Walking Dead Season 1 on Blu-ray comes recommended to everyone who missed the series when it aired originally as well as those who want to relive this story before the premiere of season two.  



#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Ray H

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Posted March 05 2011 - 05:11 PM

I've never read any of the comics and was looking forward to the show when it premiered. I generally like the zombie genre and am a fan of Darabont's. I liked the first episode, but after that, I found the show incredibly dull.


Aside from Rick and the guy and his kid from the first episode, there's not a single character that I cared for or even found to be a realistic depiction of a human being. The supporting players are all stock characters and stereotypes. We know very little about them nor are we given any reason to care for them. I found the show to be a chore to sit through for this reason. What's the point of watching a show about a zombie apocalypse if you don't care whether the characters live or die? I watched every episode, and I honestly can't remember any other characters' names. The show could have learned a thing or two from shows like Lost in how to build a memorable ensemble.


Anyway, I'll still watch season 2. The show's still got a lot of potential. I'm hoping Darabont fixes some of these issues (firing the entire writing staff is a sign).


On the video quality, I remember watching the second episode and thinking the scenes on the roof looked terrible. It looked like they sharpened it to death with lots of ringing. Any issues here?



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#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted March 06 2011 - 03:25 AM

Originally Posted by Ray H 
On the video quality, I remember watching the second episode and thinking the scenes on the roof looked terrible. It looked like they sharpened it to death with lots of ringing. Any issues here?


I did not watch it in its original broadcast, but there is no issue with these scenes on the Blu-ray.



#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted March 06 2011 - 04:27 AM

I watched it on AMC-HD and I was less than impressed with the video quality of the broadcast.  Lots of compression artifacting.  The fact that Tim and Robert Harris have had nothing but praise for it confirms that it wasn't the source but the broadcast that I had problems with.  For $23 I have already pre-ordered.



#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Vincent_P

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Posted March 12 2011 - 05:47 AM

Re: the rooftop shots, there is one wide shot on the roof in episode two that looks weird on the Blu-ray, like the focus wasn't right or something, but it literally is just that one shot, the rest of this looks superb, amazing detail!  There's a fairly high level of film grain along with that detail, which is likely why the broadcast version was so artifacty.  Just shows how good 16mm can look with a good DP and good lenses.


Oh, one thing re: the review-  I sincerely doubt this was blown-up to 35mm.  There would be no need to do so unless this was being screened theatrically.  What we're seeing is likely a direct scan off the Super-16 negative.


Vincent



#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted April 16 2011 - 04:41 PM



Originally Posted by Ray H 


On the video quality, I remember watching the second episode and thinking the scenes on the roof looked terrible. It looked like they sharpened it to death with lots of ringing. Any issues here?




I think that wasn't ringing, that was sky replacement. There are lots of shots in the series where they matched the skies artificially, including several where the old man is under his umbrella on the top of the RV at the quarry. It looks like he's glowing, but it seems to be that they took a bright sunny sky and filled it in with a dreary sky...as best as they could, leaving a bit of a haloe around him.


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#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted August 13 2011 - 04:44 AM

Looks like a double dip is on the horizon: http://amzn.com/B005CA4SQK


Not sure whether to go with the new or the old...