This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.
What? The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
Who? Developed by Frank Darabont and starring Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun and Chandler Riggs
Why? You would think a zombie-apocalypse TV series would be filled with cheap scares and taken less than seriously, but AMC's The Walking Dead was met with near universal acclaim and is the best new drama on TV. This is largely due to it being developed by The Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont and the producer of Aliens and The Terminator, Gale Anne Hurd. The series, based on the comic book of the same name, also stars several actors that Darabont worked with previously on films like The Mist, The Majestic, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
The Walking Dead
kicks off with Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) being shot in the line of duty and slipping into a coma, leaving him out for days in the hospital. When he wakes up, the world he knew is gone as he soon discovers that a zombie plague has devastated the city of Atlanta, Georgia and, perhaps, the world. Rick finds some survivors in the city and escapes into the countryside to search for his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), and their young son. Unbeknownst to Rick, Lori has become romantically involved with Rick's best friend, Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), a fellow police officer who told Lori that Rick was dead. The ragtag group of survivors—which includes women, children and the elderly—makes its way to the Center for Disease Control complex in Atlanta. The CDC offers a ray of hope in a new hellish world, but the group finds out that the scientist operating the center is preparing to make an explosive last stand against the undead in the season finale.
The Walking Dead is filled with visceral thrills and features some outstanding makeup effects on the undead that will sometimes leave you wondering how they did it. What's most interesting about the show is that the heart of the story is really about survival in a hostile environment and discovering what you and your fellow humans are really made of during a crisis situation. The fact that there are zombies shuffling around is incidental. With all the personal rivalries between them and the ugly insecurities bubbling to the surface of everyone when feeling desperate, can they even survive one another before the undead get to them?
What Else?: Both the DVD and Blu-ray sets contain all six episodes as well as a making-of featurette, "Inside The Walking Dead," "Behind the Scenes Zombie Make-up Tips," a convention panel with the producers and lots of extra footage behind the scenes.