AMC, perhaps learning from the mistake of their minimalist approach to bonus material on the first release of Season One, do The Walking Dead and its fans a solid with the release of The Walking Dead: The Complete Season Two on blu-ray. The series itself, takes us on a thirteen episode countryside hillbilly tour of chaos and destruction as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors flee Atlanta for open country roads. Peace, though, is never on the horizon and, with a zombie apocalypse as the only scenery, its chance of ever being a destination looks bleak.
With Fort Benning as their destination, Rick’s stressed-out gang – Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), Andrea (Laurie Holden), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Carl (Chandler Riggs), T-Dog (Robert Singleton), Carol (Maggie McBride) and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – discover no highway clear of the undead. In the chaos of their running from I-85, the group is forced to split up and loses track of Carol’s daughter, Sophia (Madison Lintz), as walkers chase her into a wooded area. Here the gang begins to sow the seeds of their split as frantic searches are conducted and personal relationships are explored.
While on a search for her whereabouts, Carl is mistakenly shot by a stranger named Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and is taken to an isolated farm owned by a veterinarian named Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson). While Carl recuperates, everyone meets up at Hershel’s farm and attempts to get along with each other and the Hershel’s family. But these fractures run deep and it isn’t long before a permanent crack seals the direction the writers of Season Two take with these characters.
It seems the idea of a fracture is essentially what the entire arch of Season Two was built around. When it originally aired, the season was broken into two parts: one concerned with the search of Sophia and life on the farm and the other with healing or hindering the explicit drama within the group as two men fought for control. Either way, the writers were gearing The Walking Dead audience for a decisive split that would have repercussions extending deep within Season Three. Along the way, though, they couldn’t have us forget about Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon, Daryl's redneck elder brother and Adam Minarovich as Ed Peletier, Carol's deceased husband.
You might recall that there was much panic when it was announced that series showrunner Frank Darabount (The Shawshank Redemption) had been fired after two too many tiffs with AMC executives over budget issues. While there was only a slight dip in the overall quality of the series (especially the first six episodes), executive producer Glen Mazzara managed to spike the intrigue and gut the story wide open with a warring tribe of thugs and interesting additional characters such as Lauren Cohan as Hershel’s older daughter and a man named Randall (Michael Zegen).
Season One of this show gave us a little taste of how sweet a horror-themed television show could be without compromising on the grotesque but was rather shy in opening up the canvas to reveal just how far and wide the zombie apocalypse stretched. The Walking Dead: Season Two benefits from the expanded horizon while exposing the tensions that plague the survivors when they don’t see eye-to-eye but most stick together. For even casual fans of the series, this release is a must own.
MPAA Rating: TV-14.
Runtime: 600 mins.
Cast: Lilli Birdsell; Rick Otto; Rex Linn; Danielle Burgio; Madison Leisle
Genre: TV | Horror | Sci-Fi
Tagline: The Walking Dead
Memorable Movie Quote: "Either come back with Miguel and my bag of guns, or come back locked and loaded, and we'll see which side spills more blood."
Official Site: www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead
Release Date: September, 2011
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
Synopsis: When Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes awakens from a coma after being shot, he discovers that his world has been completely turned upside down by a zombie Apocalypse. As the flesh-eating undead walk the streets looking for the living (human or animal) to feed on, Rick and his group must constantly be on guard in order to stay alive.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - August 28, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Four-disc set (4 BDs)
Playback: Locked to Region A
AMC’s 1080p transfer, presented in the series' original broadcast 1.78:1 aspect ratio, is a treat for fans and HD enthusiasts. Starting with the wash of pale colors that present the bleak world of the zombie take over, this palette is gray and bleak and tirelessly works to present the world as devoid of all hope. The colors stylistically don’t pop but the fine detail is a textured maze of earthy delight. There’s a fairly heavy presence of grain which reinforces the visual style of the series. Skin textures and facial stubble are strongly defined, as are clothing fibers, and other surfaces. The finely tuned Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack keeps the excitement level up with a totally immersive listening experience. Ambient effects are channeled properly and certainly provide enough creep factor to the chilling series.
- Five of the thirteen episodes have commentary tracks. Various members of the cast and crew are featured, such as Glen Mazzara, Robert Kirkman, Norman Reedus, and Greg Nicotero. The commentary tracks are informative and fun for fans. Speaking critically, the only complaint I can come up with is that with a series as short as this one is, I truly do believe that every episode should contain a commentary.
The bonus features included with this release are pretty substantial, with the big ticket item being the deleted scenes. These aren’t throw away scenes at all. A significant chunk of the premiere episode was removed when two episodes were combined into a single 90-minute premiere. Here at last, you see the Vatos again and find out what happened to them. The scenes are lengthy and include optional commentary from executive Glen Mazzara who explains the reason for the footage being removed. This is a great way to get a better understanding of the creative process and understand why certain decisions were made at the last minute. “Torn Apart”, a six-part web series that premiered on October 3, 2011 on AMC's official website is also included on this release. The web series is directed by special effects makeup artist and co-executive producer Greg Nicotero and tells the origin story of Hannah, also known as "Bicycle Girl", the walker that Rick Grimes killed in the first episode. Eleven other featurettes cover everything from zombie guts, to sound effects, and deconstruct one of the big scenes from the season finale. Pretty impressive stuff for gorehounds and zombie junkies.
- Deleted Scenes (30 min)
- All the Guts Inside (6 min)
- Live or Let Die (7 min)
- The Meat of the Music (8 min)
- Fire on Set (6 min)
- The Ink is Alive (9 min)
- The Sound of the Effects (5 min)
- In the Dead Water (5 min)
- You Could Make a Killing (6 min)
- She Will Fight (6 min)
- The Cast on Season 2 (5 min)
- Extras Wardrobe (3 min)
- Torn Apart Webisodes (20 min)