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A Zombie Epic Takes a Double Dip--Great For Newbies, But Probably An Essential Upgrade Only For Fervent Fans
on August 2, 2011
NOTE: Some are claiming that the 3-disc edition is edited. IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT EDITED. There are no missing scenes. There is an international version available that is somewhat less than complete (edited for gore), so beware of third party sellers. It appears that some U.S. copies may have a playback quirk, though (mine doesn't). On the episode "Guts," if you Play All you might see some material edited. If you select the individual episode from the menu (instead of Play All), there is no issue. Otherwise, the official U.S. release is absolutely fine.
So now that all The Walking Dead TV fans have purchased Season One, here comes the inevitable double dip for the 3-Disc Special edition. I always find this a dubious way to reward fans, by making them regret buying your initial product. It does, however, seem to be a commercial reality that continues to disappoint and exploit consumers. Whether or not you will indulge in the new version will depend on how appealing its additional material strikes you. Here is a run down of the new features with the old features (also included) to help you decide.
5 Stars for the show itself, 1 Star for the repeated practice of double dipping.
NEW Material for this re-issue:
Pilot Episode: The B&W Version
Audio Commentaries On All 6 episodes
We Are The Walking Dead
Bring Out The Dead: KNB And The Art of Making Zombies
Digital Decay: The VFX of The Walking Dead
No More Room in Hell: The Walking Dead Phenomenon
Adapting The Dead
Killer Conversations: Frank Darabont & Greg Nicotero
ALL Previous Bonus Material Also Included:
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 the Producers
The Walking Dead Trailer
Extra Footage (Zombie School, Bicycle Girl, On the Set with Robert Kirkman, Hanging with Steven Yeun, Inside Dale's RV, and On Set With Andrew Lincoln)
When I heard that AMC was going to produce a television series based on the zombie epic "The Walking Dead," I was both concerned and delighted. A bona fide classic in undead lore, Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" graphic novels are brutal and surprising--not really what I would picture for a basic cable TV show (the first season is only 6 episodes, we'll see where it goes from there). But AMC has produced terrific and prestigious shows like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," so I was pretty stoked to see what they do with this. Add Frank Darabont of "Shawshank Redemption" fame as the creative force behind the show, and I'm pleased to report that we've got a winner!
For years, I've maintained that the principle themes of Kirkman's vision have little to do with actual monsters. This is a story of human survival, of morality, of loyalty, of sacrifice--of doing anything necessary to carry on without losing the basics of what makes life worth living. The fact that this is occurring within the midst of a zombie apocalypse is just a bonus! Darabont and team are fully on board with the notion that it is humanity, not the undead, driving this epic struggle. So while "The Walking Dead" expertly crafts its horrors, the real emotional weight is conveyed through its characters and the decisions they face on a daily basis.
The story in these six episodes, for the most part, adheres to the first few individual comics or the collected "Volume One: Days Gone By." This is the series' jumping off point--and, in truth, sets things up in a fairly typical way. After being involved in a shoot-out, cop Rick awakes from a coma isolated, but not alone, in a local hospital. Apparently, in the time he was out, something has shifted in the world and now the dead walk. The program introduces Rick and many other principles as he tries to figure out what is happening while he crosses the state to locate his family. On the outskirts of Atlanta, Rick is reunited with his wife Lori, son Carl, and police partner Shane with a group of other survivors. I was afraid, with so much story to draw from, Darabont might rush things. Instead, "The Walking Dead" takes its time setting up the premise, introducing the cast, and establishing a bleak new world. It is a tremendous accomplishment that really allows the viewer to identify with the action, to become emotionally connected with the horror.
There are a few diversions from Kirkman's text, but they actually enhance the drama. I particularly enjoyed the possible introduction of one of the series' greatest villains at a much earlier point--rounding off his back story for a reemeergence in the future. With such a large cast, the standouts in the beginning have got to be the leads--Andrew Lincoln as Rick and Jon Bernthal as Shane. Hopefully, should there be a second season, more of the supporting cast will get to shine--but their early contributions are uniformly fine. Lincoln displays an intriguing balance of strength and vulnerability, but it's Bernthal who is the break-out star for me! The gore and effects are absolutely top notch and should be appreciated by horror aficionados. Those that love zombie mayhem should have more than enough to whet their appetite. But, and this I stress, "The Walking Dead" is sophisticated, adult entertainment that should appeal to viewers who might not ordinarily target this genre as well. This is just great TV, plain and simple, and something unexpected fresh (if you can call rotting flesh fresh) on the TV landscape. KGHarris, 11/10.