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August 25, 2014

TV on Blu-ray: The Walking Dead - Season Four (2013/2014, Blu-ray)

The Walking Dead is undeniably one of the most popular shows on all of television -- for good reason, of course. When Robert Kirkman unleashed The Walking Dead on the comic book world a few years back, possibly the last thing on his mind had to be that it would be one of the most popular shows (on American Movie Classics of all places). Well, it is even with some imperfections, this thrilling story of a group of survivors battling a zombie apocalypse has easily amassed a loyal fan-base and continued on to where it is now going into its 5th season of production.

After releasing the three previous seasons on Blu-ray and DVD Anchor Bay and AMC has now gone forth with season four with this packed, 16 episode, supplement filled Blu-ray set that should put zombie fans in a frenzy for what could very well be the best season of The Walking Dead to date.

Following a brutal showdown at the prison with the Governor (David Morrisey), Rick, Herschel and the crew lick their wounds and call it a minor victory over the now beaten down aggressor. The Governor retreats with what’s left of his gang of goons vowing revenge but it aint that easy because soon this once super intimidating villain becomes a weak, bearded hobo roaming the streets for shelter. He does find his way to a family who just sees a new kinder gentler Governor.

Meanwhile the survivors at the prison aren't doing so hot as many are falling ill to the zombie virus and feasting on each other when they can. Rick has to quarantine the sick which soon makes the prison not the safe-haven it once was. With the sickness and the zombies becoming harder and harder to control some of the folks start losing it and fingers start getting pointed to others in the group -- particularly Carol, who's acting quite sketchy.

After some spending some time with his new adopted family, the Governor gets back on his feet and back to what he does best, controlling people. He does it slowly this time around as he eventually hooks up with a group of survivors could, in time rally around him so he can get another go at Rick and invade the prison so he can spill more blood. As bad as the Governor is one thing we do find out in this particular season is that he is not the only sicko among the last survivors of this zombie apocalypse.

I've always thought the violence in The Walking Dead was the most extreme I've ever seen on basic cable and regular TV. Maybe it's a close second to the premium network's Starz  Spartacus HBO's Game of Thrones and of course NBC's Hannibal. The Walking Dead is really strong stuff and seems to be getting even more mean-spirited to. It's not a bad thing. 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, but this season proves to carry a stronger narrative to benefit the story department.

The supplements are really quite extensive on this disc with the majority on disc (number) Audio Commentaries by various cast and crew, some deleted scenes, and the featurettes -- Inside The Walking Dead, The Making of The Walking Dead, Drawing Inspiration, Hershel, The Governor Is Back, Society, Science & Survival, Inside KNB Studios and A Journey Back To Brutality. The Inside KNB Studios is one of the better ones with Greg Nicotero leading the way with some input from his sculptors. The audio commentaries are all pretty good aside from The Grove which has Andrew Lincoln on hand who has neither seen it nor acted in it. On the plus side, he did read the script. All in all the extras don't disappoint and bring added value especially with additional footage tacked on to some of the episodes.

Kirkman, Nicotero, Gayle-Anne, Ernest Dickerson and company really did a superb job with The Walking Dead's fourth season so if you’re a lover of the show this Blu-ray set is a fantastic way to enjoy it. Highly Recommended

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