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Aug 28, 2013

Blu-ray Review: THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (2013)

Danai Gurira The Walking Dead Season 3

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review, an AMC television series starring Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, David Morrissey, Lauren Cohan, Steven Yeun, Laurie HoldenScott Wilson, Emily Kinney, Chandler Riggs, Melissa Suzanne McBrideAdam Minarovich, Dallas Roberts, Marvin Duerkholz, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Chad Coleman.

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Plot

In a post-apocalyptic world filled with uncertainty from moment to moment, Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leads a motley band of survivors from one harrowing fight for survival to the next. They must band together, pool their talents, and learn to trust one another not only to battle zombies, but their own fears, doubts, jealousies, and prejudices in order to see another day.

Specs 

Run time: 688 minutes

Format: Dolby, THX, Widescreen

Region: A

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Language: English, French

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Rating: TV-14

Video

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray is presented in 1080P/MPEG-4 AVC encode with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, retaining the original broadcast aspect ratio. The high-definition transfer is visually arresting with a great deal of attention paid to the decay of the sets and the zombies, themselves. Flesh tones are true and blacks are dark and inky. By design, much of the coloring in the city and town center is grey and brown, however we see more of the bright greens and rich living reds in the rural setting this season than in the past two seasons. Despite the devastation to humanity, nature marches on. Still, this video transfer retains much of the dull and defeated tones of the past two seasons. Special effects are also masterful with quite a bit of effort towards depicting zombies in their various states of decomposition; we see maggots, flies, and various traumas in nauseating detail. Once smell-o-vision becomes standard, I expect this series to become a stand out. I noted no anomalies but some light banding and graininess throughout the set.

Audio

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season features a losless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack. Casual conversation is often interrupted by sudden mayhem or the sound of gunshots. The soundtrack handles the transitions beautifully. We get exceptional clarity with the creaking of old prison doors, ambient nature sounds, even the pedaling of a bicycle, however gunshots are where the soundtrack shines. Indoor shots, out door shots, near and far. There is no dearth of shooting in this third season. Most outdoor shots ring true with appropriate volume, bass, and accuracy. The dynamic range is impressive and dialogue comes through cleanly and with good directionality.

Blu-ray Bonus Content

Audio Commentaries

“Killer Within”: Director Guy Ferland and Actor IronE Singleton

“Say the Word”: Director/Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Makeup Artist Greg Nicotero and Actress Danai Gurira

“Made to Suffer”: Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman, Executive Producers David Alpert and Gale Annr Hurd, and Actress Danai Gurira

“The Suicide King”: Actress Danai Gurira and Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd

“This Sorrowful Life”: Actor Michael Rooker and Director/Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Makeup Artist Greg Nicotero

Rising Son (HD, 6:47):

A discussion of actor Chandler Riggs’ casting and character arc throughout the series.

Evil Eye (HD, 7:54):

A discussion of David Morrissey’s casting as The Governor, his psychological makeup, and his contrast with the idyllic appearance of the town of Woodbury.

Gone, But Not Forgotten (HD, 8:14):

An end-of-life featurette that examines the preparations surrounding the death of a character, the set, and makeup as well as cast members’ feelings about the death.

Heart of a Warrior (HD, 8:25):

A focus on the character of Michonne, her development, her conflict with Merle, and other aspects of her arc.

Michonne vs. The Governor (HD, 5:13):

A focus on the making of one scene where the two characters conflict.

Safety Behind Bars (HD, 9:44):

Crew and cast discuss the choosing of the location for the prison, building the set, and the prison’s significance in the series.

Making the Dead (HD, 8:06):

A focus on the makeup, costuming, and special effects that go into creating a zombie.

Guts and Glory (HD, 7:42):

A discussion of additional characters’ deaths.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 13:20):

Contains scenes from “Walk With Me,” “Say the Word,” “Hounded,” “Home,” “I Ain’t No Judas,” and “Clear.”

Assessment

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season is at turns enlightening, depressing, and infuriating. It’s damn near unwatchable all due to the brilliance of the writers, actors, crew, and production team in creating a world in which both the living and the dead scratch out a survival—one in which the living aren’t sure they even want to survive. After the slow pacing of the beginning of the second season, the writers made some deliberate—and successful—choices to return the action to its original frenetic pace in this third season. Nearly every episode has a cliffhanger of some sort, an end left untied which wraps around the psyche of the watcher and compels them to hang on for another episode.

This season benefited from the introduction of one character and the development of another that served to partially tamp down the cries of some critics that the show had a patriarchal slant and, at best, benignly ignored minorities. Michonne made the most dramatic entrance of any of the characters on the series and immediately rode to the front of the pack to become a fan favorite, a worthy agonist to the misogynistic, sadistic Governor.

Episode after episode, the group ends up in seemingly hopeless situations, but survive they do, against all odds. The Walking Dead is one of a quad of exceptionally well-written shows on AMC (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Low Winter Sun being the others). Just as the characters never know what each moment will bring—a delicious meal and a hot shower, an intimate encounter, or a fatal large-scale zombie attack, TWD simultaneously manages to keep viewers in a perpetual state of dread and excitation wondering what the next installment will bring.