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March 23, 2011

TV on DVD Review: The Walking Dead (2011, Blu-ray, Anchor Bay/AMC)

Over the past ten years we've seen an influx of zombie movies. Almost an epidemic of poor quality, horribly written garbage that's been an embarrassment to what George Romero essentially created 40 plus years-ago with Night of The Living Dead. Even Romero has himself sunk into the cesspool of bad zombie movie-making. Have you seen Diary of the Dead or Survival of the Dead? I really thought there was no hope for a while until I got to experience the visceral rollercoaster that is, Frank Darabont's surprise hit of 2010, The Walking Dead.

Buy The Walking Dead Season 1 on DVD or Blu-ray

Originally broadcasted on AMC - of all channels - Anchor Bay has put together a two-disc Blu-ray set of this amazing epic horror series that's sure to please anyone who followed the show when it was on TV. Based on Robert Kirkman's popular comic of the same name, The Walking Dead stays fairly close to Romero's films.: Get bitten , you turn into a zombie and to kill them they need a good blast to the cabesa. The Walking Dead as a whole is almost what the mediocre Land of the Dead could have been. Much of it, like "Land" takes place in the city , though unlike that film there are just a handful of survivors trying to avoid being torn to pieces by zombies.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is one of those survivors who just wants to find his family after waking up from a coma in the season opener. Throughout Rick’s journey he meets people that may be his key to survival or death. Veteran tough-guy, Michael Rooker pops up in the series as one of those memorable characters, Merle Dixon. He's an obnoxious white supremacist that just adds a little more to the problem. One of my other favorite characters in addition to Merle was Dale Horwath. Jeffrey DeMunn hangs in for all seven episodes playing Dale Horwath - our most mature hero on the show.

The violence in The Walking Dead is the most extreme I've ever seen on basic cable and regular TV. Maybe it's a close second the the premium network's Starz channel hit TV show "Spartacus". The Walking Dead is really strong stuff. The gore is consistent and incredibly realistic. Make-up FX wizard, Greg Nicotero, shows off some of his finest work with the grisly zombie noshing, heads being blown apart, unspooling of guts and other assorted grotesqueries. The special make-up FX are easily the star of the show, even though the acting is above average for a genre series. The writing is just one area of inconsistency. It does feel like there may be some padding predominantly around episodes three and four. The Walking Dead does pick back up perfectly in the last couple episodes.

Anchor Bay has also put together a fine collection of supplementary material that includes: Extra footage from the show and featurettes that include The Making of The Walking Dead, Inside The Walking Dead Episodes 1-6, A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman, Behind the Scenes, Zombie Make-Up Tips, Convention Panel with Producers ,The Walking Dead trailer. If you were as impressed by the superb FX , you'll definitely like the FX featurettes. Overall the extras are quite enjoyable.

The video quality for The Walking Dead overall is excellent. The series has always had a gritty look and it has thankfully kept that look for this Blu-Ray release. With that said the visuals are as colorful and detailed as intended. The soundtrack is lossless . I didn't notice anything at all that stood out in the audio department. It's as close to perfect as you can get.

I’m really looking forward to the next season of The Walking Dead. Seeing where the writers take Grimes and the gang will certainly be interesting. For now though, being able to catch it again, now on Blu-ray is enough to satisfy this zombie movie geek until the season premiere. Highly Recommended.

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