TV on DVD review: 'The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season'


The Walking Dead" became an instant hit when it debuted on Halloween night, giving AMC another feather in its quality TV cap that started with "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad."

The show's amazing first season contained just six episodes, so fans of the zombie apocalypse story are clamoring for more. It's getting a second season this fall, but there's no need to wait that long. "The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season" ($39.98 DVD, $49.98 Blu-ray, both out March 8, **** stars out of 4) sets include all the episodes and are packed with fun extras that take fans behind the scenes.

Executive-produced by Frank Darabont and based upon the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman (a writer-producer for the series), "TWD" packs all the skull-splitting, limb-ripping action you would expect to see in a zombie drama. But it's so much more than a gross-out gore-fest.
The zombies aren't the point of this story that's masterfully told by Darabont, Kirkman and Co. They drive the deeply absorbing plot that explores how the survivors fight to retain their compassion—their humanity—when choices are taken from them.

Our hero, Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), demonstrates his humanity in the series premiere, when, after waking up from a coma to find most of his southern town's people dead or reanimated as zombie "walkers," comes upon a legless zombie when he grabs an abandoned bicycle.

Later, after learning what has happened to the world while he was asleep, he returns to find her still pulling herself through the grass. "I'm sorry this happened to you," he says as he puts a bullet through her skull.

It's just one of many moving moments in the series, made all the more powerful by the performances of cast members like Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Emma Bell, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey DeMunn and Melissa Suzanne McBride.

We meet several of these actors in the extras segments that include a "making of" featurette, set tours, interview clips and separate, in-depth discussions about each episode. (Shocked by the ax scenes in "Guts?" So were the actors.)

By far the coolest extras are:

  • "Zombie Make-up Tips," in which make-up superviser Greg Nicotero and artist Andy Schoneberg show viewers how to make themselves up as zombies for Halloween using products available at drugstores.
  • "Zombie School," in which choreographer Matt Kent gives the zombie actors "their vibe."
  • "Bicycle Girl," in which Nicortero and his crew apply the head-to-waist make-up on Melissa Cowen, the "bicycle girl" I mention above. The feature ends with a time-lapsed, 2 1/2-minute clip showing the entire 3 1/2-hour process. (The clip has been tweaked from the version below.)

Sure, you can see a lot of these extras at AMC'sa websiteand YouTube, but I can't imagine a fan of the books and series not having this collection. (Just look for a discounted price, like I would.) "The Walking Dead" is a disturbing, touching and utterly enthralling tale of what it means to be human in a world gone mad.


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