The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season (2013)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Sarah Wayne Callies
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes

Back when George A. Romero’s "Dawn of the Dead" hit theaters and set in motion the entire zombie genre back in 1978, who would have thought that zombies would one day become a real horror genre mainstay, spawning countless movies? even more, who would have thought that zombies would become utter mainstream and would result in a major television series. Well, as the third season of "The Walking Dead" arrives on Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment, the show’s success clearly tells us that they are here to stay.

Seamlessly, season 3 of "The Walking Dead" picks up where season 2 left off. The group of survivors surrounding former Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) have just escaped the onslaught of the undead on Hershel’s farm and are on the run once again when they stumble into a prison compound. Filled with the walking dead, they quickly realize, however, that the fences could mean safety, allowing them to keep the dead out – if only they could manage to empty the compound of the rotting walking corpses that swarm the place.

Meanwhile, Andrea (Laurie Holden), who got separated from the group during the attack on Hershel’s farm teamed up with Michonne (Danai Gurira), a quiet fighter type armed with a Samurai sword. Together they make their way through the wilderness until one day they are picked up by a group of people led by "the Governor" (David Morrissey) who have created a safe haven that is almost too idyllic to be true.

But nothing in this show remains peaceful, ever, and quickly situations escalate as the threat from zombies and humans alike mounts and the true survivors have to make choices – tough choices, oftentimes.

I was curious to see how "The Walking Dead" would continue. Not from a story standpoint per se, but from a creative standpoint. After two seasons of zombie carnage, how would the writers create another season without becoming repetitive, without over-saturating us with the same old zombie imagery of guts and blood? With that in mind, I was very pleasantly surprised that the show did, indeed, try to find other angles to the scenario and it is evident, that this entire season focusses more on the evil in humans than that in the walking dead. No matter the horrors the zombies present, the surviving humans are capable of creating horrors even worse, even more unimaginable than any of the zombies. The essence of the season is the exploration of this sort of behavior under these apocalyptic circumstances and how other people deal with it. Alongside all of this, comes the examination how the survivors deal with their own emotions and how they find their strength to keep going.

It is interesting to note that, oftentimes, the zombies actually take a backseat in the show. Sure, there is still plenty of gore and every episode has at least one major gut-spilling and head-busting full-out attack scene, but the presence of the zombies is sometimes notably underplayed.

Anchor Bay Entertainment is presenting "The Walking Dead" in a 5-disc Blu-Ray set here, featuring all 12 episodes in glorious high definition. The transfer is meticulously clean and offers an incredibly rich and detailed throughout, combined with solid blacks that give the image strong visual depth. This is especially noticeably in the more gloomy scenes – of which there are many – as the shadows help to build atmosphere and tension.

The audio on the release comes as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track that is as aggressive as it is energetic. Making full use of the split surround channels, the audio on this release is every bit as visceral as the imagery, and can really get in your face. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable, while the sound effects and music perfectly round out the mix.

The release also dishes out a series of bonus materials, including an array of featurettes that over various aspects of the making of the show. Filled with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, you get to meet some of the characters of the story a bit closer, as cast and crew members discuss their story arcs and their relevance in the overall story. Naturally, there are also featurettes dedicated to the special effects of the show, discussing many of the practical and digital effects that were used to bring the dead back to life, as well as the bloody gore.

Audio commentaries on selected episodes and a few deleted scenes are also included.

"The Walking Dead: Season 3" was every bit as taut and entertaining as the previous seasons, and if there is one thing I would have to criticize, it is, perhaps, the incessant level of gore in the show. While it is fun once in a while, the constant exposure to these incredibly graphic effects completely diminishes their impact and makes them nothing more than bloody gimmicks in the end that become rather tedious at times.

Other than that, this is a cool set and if you are lucky enough to grab one of the Limited Collector’s Editions with the Aquarium packaging, you’re definitely in for a major treat, as Anchor Bay Entertainment has spared no expense on that one.

I am curious to see how the creators will keep the show going and how they will try to keep viewers engaged with the characters without becoming repetitive, but if season 3 is any indication of what’s to come, I’m definitely in…