Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blu Recommendation: AMC's The Walking Dead season 1

That, uh... that sound you hear is God laughing while you make plans.

Cable network AMC has clearly gotten into the modern television game, leaving behind its horrendous early-millenium malaise of unexceptional movie airing, and producing cutting edge dramas. Everyone loves Mad Men, which I couldn't care any less about, and Breaking Bad is exceptional. Then along stumble The Walking Dead, pushing the bounds of what can be shown on standard cable and creating more credibility for TV shows as art; this series has the pacing and quality of a major motion picture.

First airing in October of 2010, this continuing series is based on a series of Image graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. The great Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) deserves the credit for getting this on screen, serving as the series mastermind, producing and even directing some of it. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, John Bernthal, and Sarah Wayne Callies as zombie apocalypse survivors trying to make their way through Georgia with their limbs, and humanity, intact.

The blu-ray is awesome, filling your HDTV screen with its 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The series was shot on 16mm film, and the resulting image is beautiful, maintaining a grain veneer when the shots are dark but being clear and detailed during the bright shots. There is a lot of facial detail to see here, whether it consists of the stubble of a sweaty Lincoln or the abrasions of some demented walker. It also comes with a very satisfying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track to take full advantage of your HD-compatible home theater.

While there are no commentary tracks, the blu-ray does have some good extras, including a behind-the-scenes documentary on the entire creation of the show, mini previews for each of the six episodes, a San Diego Comic-Con panel with the creators, and HD trailers for other shows and movies. The only technical problem with the 2-disc set is that there is no way to select specific chapters within any of the episodes, something even DVD's have been doing for ten years.

Violent and upsetting, The Walking Dead is also extremely compelling, and 99% of viewers will pound through the short first season and want more. AMC is going to continue the series in 2011, so those of us safe in the real world can continue to watch these very human characters struggle through their threatening world.

Happy viewing,


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