Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Anchor Bay Entertainment has released The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray, Digital HD with Ultraviolet, and DVD. As with previous season releases, The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season rewards fans with hours of bonus features, including never-before-seen production footage, deleted scenes and audio commentaries, with ultra-exclusive content only available on the Blu-ray release, including additional audio commentaries and several “extended” episodes seen for the first time!

Show (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
If "The Walking Dead" were just about zombies, the show’s run would have been brief. Although zombies provide ever present danger and peril, the show is about the group of strangers who have banded together to survive. They came from all walks of life, and have become more than friends, and closer than many families. When the zombie apocalypse began, everyone was running scared as you would expect. Once it became clear that the zombies outnumber the uninfected, dealing with these creatures was a part of everyday life. Some of the most interesting parts of the show have been finding out who you could trust with your life, and learning it’s not always who you would think. People in crisis change in good and bad ways. Some people are born leaders, other rise to the challenge when tested. Some people don’t deserve the life they've been given.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was an officer of the law before the devastation, and now leads a group of survivors. The zombies, known as walkers, are everywhere and the group struggles to survive.  As season four begins, the group has found security inside a prison.  Rick has renounced his role as leader and they have a council system in place. Regardless of whether or not Rick wants to be called a leader, he will always be the person the group looks to for guidance. As if the walkers weren't enough of a threat, a deadly flu makes its way through the prison and many lives are lost.  The Governor is still a threat, although he has found a place in a small number of survivors who don’t know about his past.  After an intense battle at the prison, the group is separated and the situation is desperate. Signs lead to a place called Terminus where there is the promise of sanctuary.

Although the plot seems simple, this is not the show to jump into at season four or five. There is so much history between Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yuen), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carol (Melissa McBride) that new viewers wouldn't understand their shared past and how it affects their motivations in the present. To understand where these characters are its important to know where they’ve been and who they’ve lost along the way. There is a lot going on and the season ends with a true cliffhanger and the cast is left in a very bad spot. 

"The Walking Dead" is best viewed in groups, where you can ask out loud “What would I do in that situation?”, “Who would I risk my life for?” and “Which of my friends would I feed to the zombies without hesitation?”  I firmly believe that you don’t really know anyone until you’ve been together in a life-threatening/disaster situation. Even deeper questions eventually arise like “Is surviving the same as living?” and “When would you give up on fighting?” There isn’t a bad actor in the show and I can’t imagine anyone else in the place of the principal actors. Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan have the added pressure to adopt an “American accent” which they do very well.  I know plenty of people that gave up on the show in season one, but I have gotten more and more invested from as each season progresses. I’ve been known to watch a show because it used to be good and I've put so much time into previous seasons.  With "The Walking Dead," I am still very interested in where the show is going and can’t wait for season five.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season is presented in 1080p high definition with a 7.78:1 aspect ratio that looks remarkable on Blu-ray. The show is intentionally gritty and grainy and has a rough texture to it.  The level of detail is excellent, whether looking at skin imperfections or intricate clothing textures.  Of course, the zombies in all their gore look completely authentic with varying degrees of rotting flesh.  The show takes you from the dirty outside world to the darkest parts of the prison and other interiors.  This is where the depth of the black levels is apparent.  The muted color palette really sells the apocalyptic feel of the show as a whole.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive Dolby True HD 7.1 soundtrack.  The listener is able to pinpoint every gun shot, explosion, and raised voice with precision. This is the type of audio that makes use of all your speakers and has you looking over your shoulder to see what the noise was, because it often sounds too good to be coming from the show.  The environmental details add to the overall ambiance transporting the listener right into the center of the chaos. Dialogue is clear and intelligible and the music is delivered with perfect timing and amazing depth.  This is one of the few perfect scores I’ve ever given.
Extras (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season special features can be found on the fifth disc of the Blu-ray set. , with the exception of the audio commentaries, all of which I enjoyed.  I especially liked the commentaries that involved the actors.
  • Audio Commentaries:
    • “30 Days Without An Accident" (Disc One) - Executive Producer Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager Tom Luse, and Executive Producer/Special Effects Artist/Director Greg Nicotero provide commentary for the first episode of the season.
    • “Internment” (Disc Two)Executive Producer Scott M. Gimple and Actor Scott Wilson who plays Hershel provide commentary for the fifth episode.
    •  “Too Far Gone” (Disc Two)Director Ernest Dickerson and Writer Seth Hoffman provide commentary for one of the most dramatic episodes of the season.
    • “After: Extended Edition” (Disc Three) – Greg Nicotero and Co-Executive Producer Denise Huth provide commentary with actress Danai Gurira.
    • “Still” (Disc Three) – Director Julius Ramsay and Actor Emily Kinney provide commentary for track one while Writer/Producer Angela King and actor Norman Reedus are on track two.
    • “The Grove: Extended Version” (Disc Four) – Commentary featuring Scott M. Gimple, Denise Huth and Actor Andrew Lincoln
  • Disc Five Special Features
    • Inside The Walking Dead – Brief featurettes (approximately five minutes each) that examines the characters and stories in each episode.
    • The Making of The Walking Dead – A second set of brief featurettes that focuses on the behind the scenes action.
    • Drawing Inspirtation – A look at the comic books and the tie-ins to the show.
    • Hershel – The cast and crew discuss the character of Hershel in an approximately 7 ½ minute feature.
    • The Governor is Back - Over eight minutes devoted to Rick’s nemesis.
    • Society, Science & Survival – The Walking Dead makes its way into several academic courses.
    • Inside KNB Studios – A lengthy making of featurette which explores some of the visual effects.
    • A Journey Back to Brutality – An eight minute look at Rick’s story and evolution.
    • Deleted Scenes – Over nine minutes of deleted scenes from eight episodes.
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
"The Walking Dead" is awesome and those who disagree should be eaten by zombies. Okay, that’s a little harsh, but they should keep their opinions to themselves. I don’t know many people that are lukewarm about the show – it’s usually a love hate kind of thing. I happen to love it and I can’t wait for season five. Fans of the show should definitely consider purchasing the Blu-ray set. The video quality is exceptional and the audio is phenomenal. The special features are interesting, well thought out and offer six commentaries that all offer unique insight. There are few television shows that I will regularly re-watch and this is one of them. When you see where the story takes the main characters it makes previous seasons seem even better in retrospect.

Order your copy today!


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