Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (DVD Review)

Photo - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

The Walking Dead: Season 1 (6 Episodes)
Based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman
Season 1 Directors: Frank Darabont, Ernest R. Dickerson, Guy Ferland, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Michelle Maxwell MacLaren, Johan Renck
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Gallies, Jon Bernthal, Steven Yeun, Laurie Holden, Norman Reedus, Emma Bell, Melissa McBride, Juan Pareija, Jeffrey Demunn, Micheal Rooker
USA, 2010

Reason to see: Zombies are always a yes

When I head that there was going to be a based on a graphic novel series zombie TV show, I had to pinch myself. Zombies.. on TV? How were they going to do that? Even after seeing it, I'm not quite sure how they did that because there is more blood, guts and brains in this series than anything I've seen on TV. There is also a surprizing amount of emotional content and conflict. I think I found that even more surprizing than the blood because I knew that they would work that in. But the drive of this serious is without a doubt a super-heavy, emotionally-driven character drama with a particular focus on families.

Yep, that's right. Families. Nuclear families, siblings, looking for families and losing families. And considering that the show has taken off like a house on fire, I'm thinking a lot of zombie fans and settled down and have their own families now because this series is really resonating with folk. It's actually kind of wild and totally unique that we have such a family-centric show is not safe for family viewing, because it's pretty steeped in old school zombie rules of brain bashing and head shots as the make the undead, truly and finally dead. But, I don't think that will stop little ones from finding a way to see it and I'm sure in years to come we'll have a whole new generation of zombie lovers with stories of sneaking in viewing it without their own parents knowing that they did.

Between the brain bashing and carnage, we see the emotional journeys and stories that are heavily survivalist focus as the series is set post-zombie apocalypse. The series has already blurred the boundaries of morality on many opportunities and looks like it will continue to do so as it discusses and presents themes of power, right & wrong, fear, lust and choice all in the wake of the destruction of structure and society. People are faced with not knowing what to do, who to listen to, when to speak up, what to say and the repercussions or both action and inaction. Considering the series is based on a long standing graphic novel series, I have a feeling a lot of things are going to come back and bite people later - and that's not even zombie bites!

The first series is a short one of 6 episodes, and the series opener I have to be honest and say it felt a little too familiar to 28 Days Later to me, but with a very slow pace and much more of an emotional tone. That doesn't stay the course for the series though, as each episode shifts completely in terms of pace, tone and focus. I can't decide if that drives me crazy or I think it's brilliant, because it keeps the audience completely on edge not knowing what to expect. One of the challenges I find with the series is the survivalist tone as it makes for some very uncomfortable power imbalances and gender dynamics that will easily have the opportunity to go from bad to worst.

The series has a huge ensemble cast, in the centre of which is the good guy law man Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Gallies) and partner Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal). We also have two sibling pairs, with a set of sister Andrea & Amy (Laurie Holden & Emma Bell) and a set of brothers Merle & Daryl Dixon (Michael Rooker & Norman Reedus), and it's probably no surprize that the siblings are the characters that have me hooked - even the guys although they are not the nicest of the bunch by far. I think my favourite character though is Glenn (Steven Yeun) who really is a straight-up nice guy, at least so far! And that is only naming a few of the folks in the huge ensemble cast, where I'm sure there are and will be stories and characters for many different people to identify with and feel strongly about. I'm actually find that I'm trying not to connect with character because given the setting the life expectancy is something that you can never be certain giving the context of the series.

The focus and tone wasn't particularly what I expected, but the zombies are pretty freaking cool and I already feel strongly about several of the characters so I know I'll be coming back for more and cheering along for the rag tag group in Season 2. If you are a fan of survivalist themes, human nature, zombies and emotional drama you can't let The Walking Dead walk you by, you have to walk alongside and see where this this dark emotional ride will take you.

DVD Extras:
Although the season is only 6 episode, the DVD is absolutely packed with extras and the featurettes are really great, I especially enjoyed the interviews with Andrew Lincoln who is really funny, and I love the fact that they hint at but never spoil where things may end up going later on.

  • The Making of The Walking Dead (30 minutes), Inside The Walking Dead (6 featurettes, one on each episode of the show, approx 5 minutes each) behind the scenes, show clips and interviews with executive producer/writer/director Frank Darabont, executive producer/writer/creator of graphic novel Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, producer Denise Huth, executive producer Dave Alpert, first assistant director - pilot K.C. Colwell, consulting producer/special FX make-up Greg Nicotero, director of photography - pilot David Tattersall, artist/illustrator Charlie Adlard, VFX supervisor Jason Sperling, director of photography - series David Boyd, 1st assistant camera David Galbraith, props master Mike Sabo, production designer Gregory Melton, composer Bear McCreary and actors Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Lennie James, Laurie Holden, Jon Bernthal, Norman Reedus, Sarah Wayne Gallies, Micheal Rooker, Emma Bell, Melissa McBride, Juan Pareija and Jeffrey Demunn on a wide range of topics from zombies in general, specific elements of characters, themes of the series, what people can connection to, the fandom around the series, translating and changes in the series from page to screen, approach take to the series, props, make up, special effects, and working together. The show by show featurettes look at the focus, theme and characters that specifically relate to each episode.
  • A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman (approx 5 minutes) executive producer/writer/creator of graphic novel Robert Kirkman on set on last day of shooting.
  • Behind The Scenes Zombie Make-Up Tips for Halloween (6 minutes) consulting producer/special FX make-up Greg Nicotero & special EFX make up artist Andy Schoneberg show a step by step zombiefication using products from Halloween & cosmetics stores
  • Convention Panel with Producers (11 minutes) - ComicCon with executive producer/writer/director Frank Darabont, executive producer/writer/creator of graphic novel Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, consulting producer/special FX make-up Greg Nicotero
  • SVP of Original Programming, AMC Joel Stillerman and actors Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Gallies, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden and Emma Bell on zombies, the series, their characters, the appeal, the fandom and the adaptation and how they want the comic & the show to exist both seperately and together.
  • The Walking Dead Trailer (1 minute)

Extra Footage
  • Zombie Schoool (3 minutes) on the series take on zombies and zombie school with interviews with executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer/writer/director Frank Darabontm consulting producer/special FX make-up Greg Nicotero, zombie choreography Matt Kent and zombie extras going through the fine tuning details of the zombie auditioning and training.
  • Bicycle Girl (5 minutes) consulting producer/special FX make-up Greg Nicotero discussing hero zombie bicycle girl and the special FX make-up that went into creating the and stills of the prosthetics, process and time lapse of the 3 1/2 hour process of creating Bicycle Girl
  • On Set with Robert Kirkman (3 minutes) Behind the scenes on set walkabout with executive producer/writer/creator of graphic novel Robert Kirkman as he tries to get into trouble on set
  • Hanging With Steven Yeun (4 minutes) Great behind the scenes with Steven Yeun on being a fan on the comic books, how he got into the stories, the heat and filming stories.
  • Inside Dale's RV (3 minutes) Behind the scenes with Jeffrey Demunn (Dale) and tour of Winnebago, with people and cameras appear to be everywhere!
  • On Set with Andrew Lincoln (3 minutes) Great behind the scenes with Andrew Lincoln who is really funny, chatting about working on a project that has such a strong fan base, on the differences of the show to others on television, and his his character Rick Grimes.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is available on DVD & BluRay as of March 8, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD), Amazon.ca [Blu-ray] & Amazon.com (DVD), Amazon.com [Blu-ray]

Shannon's Overall View:
I wanted to enjoyed it more, and I have a feeling it will continue to win me over
I'll watch it again
I strongly recommend it fans of survivalist dramas & zombies

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

1 comment:

Courtney Small said...

I cannot believe we have to wait until October for the second season. It is almost as bad as waiting a year and a half for The Sopranos final season a few years back.

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