Tags: AMC, Anchor Bay, Andrew Lincoln, Bear McCreary, Blu-ray, Chandler Riggs, Frank Darabont, Gregory Nicotero, Iron E Singleton, Jeffrey DeMunn, Jon Bernthal, KNB EFX Group, Lauren Cohan, Laurie Holdon, Madison Lintz, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Robert Kirkman, Sarah Wayne Callies, Scott Wilson, Starz, The Walking Dead
has an average rating of 8.7 on IMDb
1080p in AVC on FOUR 50gb discs
Dolby TrueHD 7.1
are ALL in HD and very worthwhile
– 2011 – 2012
– 578 minutes
– AMC / Anchor Bay (Starz)
Street Date: August 28th, 2012
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Show Itself is based on the graphic novel series (of the same title) created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The comic (graphic novel) series was adapted (developed) into a television series by Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont who most know for directing film adaptations of Stephen King‘s “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), “The Green Mile” (1999), and “The Mist” (2007). Darabont also served as the Executive Producer, Writer and even Director on the first episode of the first season. That first episode premiered on AMC during their Halloween “Fearfest” on October 31st, 2010 and became the most watched drama series in cable history for the age demographic of adults 18-49 with 3.5 million viewers. It has since became a big hit amongst both the viewers and critics alike.
The story last season started us out by introducing us to our main character who we shared the experiences of witnessing glimpses before and shortly after the zombie (“walker”) invasion takes place outside of Atlanta, Georgia; where the show is actually filmed on location. Our main character is a sheriff named “Rick Grimes” (played by Andrew Lincoln), who gets severely injured early on (as shown in the flashbacks) and ends-up in a coma as result. His partner, officer “Shane Wilson” (played by Jon Bernthal), stays by his side in the hospital for a while, but when Rick awakes from the coma, he finds himself completely alone in a hospital. As he leaves the hospital looking for signs of others he sees piles of dead bodies, and soon encounters the undead himself as well as other survivors of this tragedy. He’s reunited in the first season with his wife and son. Rick, along with his wife, son and Shane band together with some others to form a group of survivors and make their way out of Atlanta in that first season.
The surviving members that make up the rest of the cast this season include Sarah Wayne Callies (as “Lori Grimes“), Chandler Riggs (as “Carl Grimes“), Laurie Holdon (as “Andrea“), Jeffrey DeMunn (as “Dale“), Steven Yeun (as “Glenn“), Norman Reedus (as “Daryl“), Iron E Singleton (as “T-Dog“), Melissa McBride (as “Carol Peletier“) and Madison Lintz (as “Sophia“).
The complete 13 episodes of the second season are included and are as follows:
- Episode 1 – “What Lies Ahead“
- Original Air Date: October 16, 2011
- Original Air Date: October 23, 2011
- Original Air Date: October 30, 2011
- Original Air Date: November 6, 2011
- Original Air Date: November 13, 2011
- Original Air Date: November 20, 2011
- Original Air Date: November 27, 2011
- Original Air Date: February 12, 2012
- Original Air Date: February 19, 2012
- Original Air Date: February 26, 2012
- Original Air Date: March 4, 2012
- Original Air Date: March 11, 2012
- Original Air Date: March 18, 2012
Overall, in its second season “The Walking Dead” proved why it is still one of the most popular and promising television shows currently on the air. The show seems to still be going pretty strong as the third season will be starting October 14th on AMC. Fans of the original comic will love this as the creator Robert Kirkman worked as both an Executive Producer and Writer on the series. Also worth mentioning, the make-up special effects here were done by Gregory Nicotero of KNB EFX Group. Fans of horror films, especially zombie films will recognize his name and work on previous classics. The show has continued to remain intriguing with both its fair share of action and drama. However, on that note, this season seems at times to have a bit more drama than it does action, which might not be as appealing to some but it makes up for it with some excellent action sequences via the encounters with zombies and one hell of a climactic season finale. We’re also introduced this season to a set of new characters living on a farm. These include an older gentleman by the name of “Hershel Greene” (played by Scott Wilson), his daughter “Maggie Greene” (played by Lauren Cohan) as well as his other two other daughters and their significant others. There’s also some good guest starring roles here by some both new and old recognizable faces, who I won’t name specifically to avoid dishing out any “spoilers” so-to-speak. One last thing worth noting, Frank Darabont doesn’t seem to really spend any time writing or directing on the show now but he is still technically involved as he is still credited as an Executive Producer.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on FOUR BD-50‘s (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Discs) in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. As listed on IMDb’s technical specifications, this was shot on Super 16mm film. They still are shooting the show on Super 16MM, I know for a fact, as there’s a great interview HERE with cinematographer David Boyd, A.S.C. who served as DP (director of photography) on 9 episodes of the show and director on one episode (“Secrets”) this season. Boyd discusses in that interview how the crew originally (on the first episode of the first season) had tested a large variety of cameras, including the Red One digital camera, before they eventually chose to use the Arriflex 416 camera and shoot on Super 16MM film. The reason for this choice had to do with how well it made the make-up and special effects of the zombies (“walkers“) look. In that article he discusses how he’d used 16MM on his previous projects and how it’s getting very hard to find cameras that still use film. Very interesting interview and definitely worth reading. You’ll also learn that they use Panavision cameras and lenses now as well, not just that Arriflex camera.
Because of the Super 16MM film source there’s a considerable amount of film grain visible, especially in some darker scenes, which gives the show a rough “gritty” feel at times similar to a horror film. That grain and the gritty feel is very fitting yet it doesn’t make things come across soft. In fact there’s a great amount of detail here in every single shot throughout the season, especially in close-ups. The black level is solid, fleshtones are accurate, and despite the dismal settings (and circumstances) it does hold a somewhat vibrant color palette. The blend of CG and makeup special effects is actually rather good. On that note, the “walkers” look pretty impressive, and the gore can be pretty disgusting. That gore and such is much thanks to the makeup special effects by the folks at KNB EFX Group as well as a bit of CG thrown in from time to time.
Disc 1 uses 39.1GB total. Disc 2 uses 35.9GB total. Disc 3 uses 36.0GB total. Disc 4 uses 30.5GB total.
All and all, this holds a pretty solid and impressive visual presentation to be from a Super 16mm film source but it is very fitting as it adds the old horror film feel. This earns a “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. Fans will be very pleased with the quality here as it doesn’t contain as much compression as cable and satellite broadcasts on AMC do. This looks just as good visually as the first season and that’s because, as mentioned above, that they’re still shooting the show how they have been since the start.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound. This serves as a very, very nice improvement over the Dolby Digital 5.1 that the show was originally broadcast on AMC in as well as an improvement of the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 found on the first season’s Blu-ray release. The first two episodes of this season are heavily driven by dialogue and involve more drama than they do action. However, there are a few occasions in those first two episodes of the season where action takes place and you’ll hear some good sound effects like knife slashes, gunshots and such which come across very realistic. Even though there’s not that much action in the first few episodes there is a good amount of use of the rear channels for ambient noises outdoors and the sound of approaching “walkers” in herds and such. It really starts to get intense though around the end of the second episode when the music (by Bear McCreary) starts up with an excellent amount of rear channel use and LFE (bass) presence.
One of the real benefits of this being in 7.1 is the fact you’ll hear the four rear channels used for ambient noises like I said, such as the wind rustling, twigs or branches breaking in the woods and whatnot. The real highlight of the 7.1 mix though is when those herds of “walkers” come along and you’ll be completely surrounded by the sound of their moans and footsteps. This makes superb use of the soundscape, namely the rear channels, and leaves you (the viewer) feeling just as overwhelmed as the characters on the show do. It comes across pretty damn creepy at times to say the least. There’s eventually a good amount of LFE in scenes like those and when the music starts up from time to time. This mix sounds downright awesome during the action sequences with a great amount of intensity, yet it can also be very subtle when the show is getting by on primarily dialogue and going for drama. Things will go from being really quiet to the sound of a gunshot or a “walker” approaching turning things intense at the drop of a hat so-to-speak. The sound mix does a great job of setting the mood and keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat during the suspenseful moments. There’s a flashback where some helicopters are flying over which starts out panning across the four rear channels with a decent amount of LFE. That soon is followed by helicopters passing clearly overhead and making full use of the 7.1 configuration with an excellent pan from the rears to the front channels and a deep amount of LFE.
The sound mix here definitely has its moments but it also, as mentioned, does have its points where it can be really quiet and just driven by dialogue. That’s to be expected from a show that first and foremost is a drama and secondly action. Still, that being said, this earns yet another “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality — just as the first season of the show did. The change to 7.1 over the 5.1 on the previous season is a definite improvement — for those with a 7.1 speaker setup to experience it.
Bonus Materials are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.
DISC 1 includes:
- Episode 1 Audio Commentary by Executive Producer Glen Mazzara, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman and Executive Producer David Alpert
DISC 2 includes:
- Episode 7 Audio Commentary by Executive Producer Glen Mazzara, Producer Scott M. Gimple, Director Michelle MacLaren and Editor Julius Ramsay
- Episode 8 Audio Commentary by Executive Producer Glen Mazaara, Co-Executive Producer Evan Reilly and Actors Scott Wilson and Steven Yeun
DISC 3 includes:
- Episode 11 Audio Commentary by Executive Producer Glen Mazzara, Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Artists/Director Greg Nicotero, Writer Angela Kang and Actor Laurie Holden
DISC 4 includes:
- Episode 13 Audio Commentary by Executive Producer/Writer Glen Mazzara, Director Ernest Dickerson, Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Artist Greg Nicotero, Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman and Actor Norman Reedus
- “Webisodes” (19:42 – HD) include a total of six and feature optional audio commentary by Writer/Director Greg Nicotero. These are short stories set in the world the show takes place and involve different characters.
- Deleted Scenes (29:18 – HD) include a total of eight from either different episodes. They can either be watched individually with the name of the episode they were deleted from or all together via a “play all” function. These feature optional audio commentary by Executive Producer Glen Mazzara. Most of these scenes prove to be entertaining and are worth watching but in the end it’s probably for the best that they were deleted.
Overall, the bonus materials prove to be worthwhile. You get five audio commentaries on select episodes of the season, a total of eleven featurettes, six webisodes and deleted scenes of 8 different episodes. Not including the audio commentaries you get almost an hour and a half here of featurettes, webisodes and deleted scenes. It’s enough to keep you entertained after you’ve finished watching the season and also enough to get you excited for next season. If this doesn’t prove to be enough bonus content for you, be sure to check out the official AMC YouTube channel’s playlist for the show HERE.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be PATIENT with the slow loading times and keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.