Well it’s that time of the year again! No, it’s not quite fall or the official start of the NFL season yet, but it’s getting pretty damn close. But let’s not be coy about it. You know what time it is! It’s the time of the year I love most…the month of August…because it’s my birthday! Haha. But no, seriously…this is the time of year when Anchor Bay Entertainment fills our company mailbox with AMC Walking Dead goodies…most notably the coveted Blu-ray release. And the month of August also means one more certain thing for the lovers of all things zombie. It signifies that the month of October and the beginning of a new season of The Walking Dead is less than 60 days away. Hooray! Premature celebration is in the air! However, in the meantime, let’s not put the carrot in front of the carriage just yet. Let’s take our time…maybe the next ten minutes or so and talk in depth about one of the hottest shows on television currently and one hell of a tension filled season. Of course I’m talking about the August 27th Blu-ray release of The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season. I have had it in my grubby hands now for less than week and I couldn’t wait to rip it open upon receiving it, watch and digest everything I possibly could and share all the following zombie goodness with all of you. I sincerely hope you enjoy.
The third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, based on the popular comics of the same name by Robert Kirkman, graced our television sets on October 14th last year. It was 16 episodes long and concluded this past March (the 31st to be specific). The third season picks up several months after the the fiery conclusion of the second season finale that introduced us to the popular character of Michonne (Danai Gurira) and her two zombie slaves in addition to foreshadowing the prison yard a little ways off, which was looking mighty ripe for the picking should someone ever choose to inhabit it. Hint, hint.
Eight major roles, or should we address them as lucky survivors from the previous seasons, returned this time out and two new ones were added. Continuing the fight we are reunited in the third season with Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Michael Rooker (the devilish Merle Dixon), Melissa McBride (Carol), Scott Wilson (Hershel) and newcomers Danai Gurira (Michonne), whom I already mentioned above, and a man that needs no introduction…David Morrissey as the Governor.
Season 3 follows the weary group of survivors, who now know their doomed future in regards to the information learned about the seemingly inescapable zombie virus, led by Rick Grimes on the road as they come across a prison and attempt to set up a permanent camp there. Meanwhile, Andrea never knew how great life could be again as she’s living it up now in a fortified town of Woodbury led by the sadistic Governor, the antagonist of the season, and his lieutenant Milton (Dallas Roberts). That’s what I love about this show. You have a post apocalyptic world where zombies are an ever present danger and your main antagonist is a human. The humanity of it all! More like irony, eh? So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. Michonne was shacking it up in the Governor’s compound too, but nothing can get past her. She’s too smart to be fooled by this brilliant cloak of a disguise. I mean come on. The woman keeps two jawless zombies on chains as pets. Nothing can get by her. So not only does our familiar group of survivors have to deal with the walking dead in every inch of the prison’s catacombs and bowels, but they must also deal with the usual hardships they are accustomed to such as the loss of life, the trusting of others outside the group, the insanity that goes along with it all and unfortunately the betrayal at the hands of others who selfishly want what they rightfully shouldn’t have. And by golly, I said it before and I’ll say it again. That’s what makes this show so damn special and intense…the deeply rooted humanity of it all…the personal struggle to persevere above all else in the face of nothing but utter bleakness. Do you think you have what it takes to survive? I dare you to try!
So here’s why I find The Walking Dead so intriguing. It’s the hopelessness these characters face. At the end of the day when these characters lay down their arms and accept their fate they know they’re coming back a changed person. Well, I guess the word person is the wrong word. How about a mindless monster? Yet, in the face of all this hopelessness and darkness every survivor faces in Season 3, they still fight to carry on and no matter what life throws at them, they find a reason to survive and lift others up when they have fallen and simply want to give up. They are there for each other even when the darkest of nimbus clouds appear. And did I mention this is a show about zombies? Holy crap! This show beat the hell out of me this season and despite it all I want more and kept coming back for more punishment week after week. I’m fully revved and behind the plights of Rick, Maggie and Glen, Carl Jr. and oh what the heck, the whole damn gang…even Hershel and his green sock!
I guess the whole paradox and kicker of the show then truly is the fact that even in the midst of a zombie apocalyptic world, it’s the living that are truly more dangerous and that you should be most concerned with. How ironic is that? This show is full of those moments. Each week, in addition to the horror aficionado’s blood and gore spoon-fed sequences, it’s a deep character study. And I’ll go as far as to say it’s hit or miss too. There are moments, as reflected by the series’ score above where I think they go a little too far into their cross-examination and I grow tired and bored, but then there are moments that I never saw coming and others where I never wanted them to end like when the Governor is stalking Andrea in a building that in my opinion pays homage to the great slashers like Halloween and so forth. This show truly has it all. From the shocking moments and epic battles (as epic as they can be for a small group of survivors) to the blood, guts and gore us horror lovers crave…The Walking Dead has a little something for everyone. However, it’s the rich and deep character development that truly keeps us coming back for more. Don’t forget that aspiring screenwriters. Never be fooled!
And let’s not forget the moral compass that The Walking Dead battles with weekly…especially the character of Rick Grimes. He may come off as brash and rude the way he treats outsiders to the small group of survivors he feels personally responsible for, but make no mistake the man would give you his left nut without hesitation if that meant keeping you safe. He walks a fine line between what’s right and what’s wrong and that’s what I love about this show and this main character. He’s a flawed man and in Season 3 you’ll find out (no spoilers here) that he has every right to be not only flawed, but also disgruntled and unapologetic with his actions. He does and operates in what he believes is in the best interest of the group no matter how unorthodox his decisions seem and it’s great to see his son Carl Jr. rise up and become a man in this season and not only does he emulate Rick in many ways, he also contrasts him too. And that makes for one hell of an interesting family drama too, don’t you think? See! I told you The Walking Dead was so much more than meets the eye. And speaking of eyes…let’s talk about the Governor.
With the exception of Rick, the character that most intrigued me for many reasons this season was that of the Governor. Now naturally, given my affiliation for the Dark Side of the Force and The Empire Strikes Back, I’m always a sucker for a great bad guy. Typically, the bad guy is never really given much of a backstory. Well…that’s all in the past here. The Walking Dead writers truly know how to do their job and I hope they are well compensated for it. The Governor truly is another fine flawed character who’s a product of his environment too, just like Rick, and a perfect example of why I feel that The Walking Dead is one of the best shows currently on television. There’s things you’ll find out throughout the season about who the Governor really is and the quirky yet dirty secrets he keeps. You may have your heartstrings yanked in dismay in one moment and then totally let them go other times in disgust. That’s how rich and developed this character is. He’s three-dimensional and that’s why I love him. I have to admit, I’m not much of a fan of The Walking Dead comic series. I read like the first five issues and other than the differently paced and out of placed story lines from that of the television series, I really didn’t get how they made such a successful show out of it. So that’s why I don’t get when some of the hardcore comic series fans cry that David Morrissey is mis-casted as the Governor. I just don’t get and nor do I care to get it. To me he’s perfect and embodies everything the Governor should be in my eyes and heart. And if I had one minor complaint about the whole season, it would be about the Governor’s story in the season finale. I was a bit let down by this one after all the promises of the huge story arc that was unfolding all season long. I’m hoping there’s much more, but I guess I have to wait until October to find out. Boo!
So now that we all can agree that The Walking Dead is pretty much the finest hour on television until 24 returns to the airwaves, let’s take a moment to list all the episodes in order that you’ll find here in this 5-disc Blu-ray set and their corresponding disc numbers they reside on to make things easier for you before discussing the real reason you are all here…the audio/video vitals!
1. “The Seed”
3. “Walk With Me”
4. “Killer Within”
5. “Say The Word”
7. “When The Dead Come Knocking”
8. “Made to Suffer”
9. “The Suicide King”
11. “Ain’t a Judas”
13. “Arrow on the Doorpost”
15. “This Sorrowful Life”
16. “Welcome to the Tombs”
I hate this section of The Walking Dead Blu-ray set. Why? Because it’s so subjective. You see, this intentionally isn’t a pretty show. It’s meant to look bleak and dull, absent of almost any rich colors, and as a result soft. So that’s very hard to judge especially when we are talking Blu-ray and everyone wanting the finest presentation possible. So you see the conundrum I have here? Of course I could go on record saying that Anchor Bay’s 1080p transfer and MPEG-4 AVC codec is a faithful recreation and replication of the show’s post apocalyptic tone. And while that wouldn’t be a lie, that’s also taking the easy way out. Anyone that knows me knows that’s not the way I conduct business that way. So let’s take a brief moment to dissect this even deeper than just the muted color pallets. The season is showcased in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio presentation, just like you see it on television. There’s no debris or blemishes on the print…other than the zombie blood and guts. Sorry. I couldn’t resist it. LOL. Fine grain reigns supreme throughout the presentation, but never at levels that ever are problematic or distracting. It just is what it is. I know. I hate that saying too. Black levels are deep and flesh tones never exaggerate. If you lose yourself into the show and forget about the dullness at times, you’ll also notice the fine little details that exist throughout this transfer. Just don’t lose yourself in the murkiness of the print at times. Remember…it’s intentional. It’s not reference for Blu-ray, but when you are talking about the world and setting of The Walking Dead television show, is that world reference either? I think not.
And continuing the tradition of my past Walking Dead Blu-ray reviews (here and here), this is the section where the show immaculately shines on the Blu-ray format…it’s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless surround track presentation. Bada bing, bada BOOM! Things explode here literally. From the big guns that rock the prison walls to the rumble of Darryl’s motorcycle, your subwoofer is going to get one hell of a workout here. How many Blu-ray television sets can attest to that and can offer that kind of exercise for you surround sound system to truly demonstrate what it’s capable of? Get ready for your system to flex its muscles here. This presentation is steroids for your surround sound system. It’s the protein powder and amino acids it needs. It’s full of energy, boldness and bullying brutality like only Season 3 of The Walking Dead can deliver on the Blu-ray format. The dialogue is always loud, clear and intelligible as well as the zombie grunts and shrills they make when they are excised. The soundstage and atmospheric events, down to the tiniest of little nuances, are always evenly balanced all around you. And how can you not feel the aural sensations of the haunting introduction score that plays each episode over the series’ main title credits? It’s what dreams are made of for my ears and I’m eager to hear what you think about it too. This is the sugar you add to your coffee…this is the audio of The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season…and it’s spectacular. There’s also a French Dolby Surround 2.0 track that’s a selectable option here as well as English and Spanish subtitles to assist the hearing impaired.
While there may not look like a beefy entree of extras here on this 5-disc Blu-ray set, if you include the audio commentaries, you’re looking at least at about 5 hours worth of bonus goodies. What more can you ask for? Do you want me to cut your cake, chew it for you and spit it in your mouth too? Ha! I didn’t think so. And I wouldn’t do that either. That’s just gross. So don’t ask! LOL. I digress. In essence, The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray comes pre-loaded from the factory bulging with tons of extras that we’ll recap in much greater detail below. They include exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, never-before-seen featurettes, the audio commentaries we mentioned above and deleted scenes. All the extras, save for the five episode-specific audio commentaries, are featured on disc #5 of the Blu-ray set. That’s the one with Glenn and Maggie pictured on it as you’ll see below in my world famous unboxing pictures. Would it be too much to ask for an iTunes HD Digital Copy of each episode like HBO has been providing with their television series sets? Pretty please with cinnamon sprinkles on top!
- Featurettes (HD) – There are a total of 8 featurettes that can be found here in this section that can only be played one-at-a-time via the selectable choices off disc 5’s main menu. What do you say we take a closer look and dissect these one-by-one? Sounds like a plan to me!
- Rising Son (HD, 6:47) – Here we take a closer look at the young actor Chandler Riggs. We get to explore his onscreen character, Carl, and examine his story arc throughout the series and ultimately the man he becomes in Season 3. I like this because it analyzes how do you raise a child in this world. The challenge obviously is how do you find a child actor who’s able to show this growth onscreen. I think they hit it out of the ballpark in my opinion with their casting of Chandler, but what do I know. He may indeed have the greatest character arc in the series. What do you think?
- Evil Eye (HD, 7:54) – And here we are! The reason we are all here in Season 3. The Governor! This one takes a inside look at the choice of David Morrisey to play the role and how they are slowly changing him and his look (eye patch and all) to match the part in the comic series and the complexity of his character.
- Gone, But Not Forgotten (HD, 8:14) – Um…how do I explain this without spoiling it for anyone that hasn’t seen this season it yet? Well…I guess all I can really say is that this one deals with a death of a main character, the birht of another and how everyone is affected by it onscreen and even offscreen.
- Heart of a Warrior (HD, 8:25) – This one gives us a closer look at the character’s strengths, traits, fighting abilities and performances of Danai Gurira’s Michonne. The producing team seems very happy with their choice in casting her.
- Michonne vs. The Governor (HD, 5:13) – This one gives us a behind-the-scenes look at one of the season’s finest showdowns. Of course I’m talking about the conflict between the Governor and Michonne. It shows how the Governor will really do anything to protect his leadership of Woodbury and the dark secrets the character also carries.
- Safety Behind Bars (HD, 9:44) – This one takes us behind the bars. Literally! We take a look at the survivor’s safe haven in Season 3 as the crew and cast discuss the pinnacle setting in the season…the prison. From the construction of the prison sets to the minute details, it’s all in here. People love the prison scenes in the comics and I’m pretty sure they are going to love it onscreen too! And coolest of all…this isn’t even a real prison…it’s all studio! Impressive, huh?
- Making The Dead (HD, 8:06) – This is the one we all want to see, right? This one gives you an extreme closeup of the makeup and even the construction (animatronics) of the zombies and the visual effects that yield such wonderful and rememberable fatalities.
- Guts and Glory (HD, 7:42) – He we look at all the other character deaths we did not cover above. Yes, I’m sad to say…people die on The Walking Dead. But you should already know to expect anything from Season 2, right? I would go into detail about whose deaths are covered in this feature, but doing so would spoil things unfortunately. Let’s just say it’s hard on the real actors who embody these characters having to say goodbye to all the memories they made while on set.
- Audio Commentaries -There are a total of 5 audio commentaries that can be found on the following episodes.
- 4: “Killer Within” (Disc 1) – Director Guy Ferland and Actor IronE Singleton
- 5: “Say The Word” (Disc 2) – Director/Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Artist Greg Nicotero and Actor Danai Gurira
- 8: “Made to Suffer” (Disc 2) – Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman, Executive Producers David Alpert and Gale Anne Hurd
- 9: “The Suicide King” (Disc 3) – Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd and Actor Danai Gurira
- 15: “This Sorrowful Life” (Disc 4) – Director/Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Artist Greg Nicotero and Actor Michael Rooker
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 13:20) – Last but not least, Anchor Bay has served up 6 deleted scenes for us fans and it’s my pleasure to list them in order for you below. These are selectable individually or there’s also a Play All option. It’s kind of weird they did not offer that same ability above in the Featurettes section, isn’t it?
- Walk With Me (HD, 1:34) – This is a scene with Andrea, Michonne, the Governor and his posse.
- Say The Word (HD, 2:40) – Carl holds his newborn sister and has a heart-to-heart with Beth (Emily Kinney), Hershel’s younger daughter, examining whether or not there’s a heaven or a hell.
- Hounded (HD, 2:53) – The survivors share conversation over some kind of meal they are partaking within the prison walls as they worry about Rick, who has just returned from clearing the prison blocks of any remaining strangler zombies. Carl and Rick share a moment.
- Home (HD, 2:07) – This one takes us even deeper into Rick’s insane mind where he continues to lose it over an event that happens in Season 3 that I can’t talk about here.
- I Ain’t No Judas (HD, 1:40) – Carol tries to make peace with devilish Merle. She’s wise to him and she tells him if he messes up she will be there to end him. You go, girl! I couldn’t trust the guy if my life depended on it, could you?
- Clear (HD, 2:26) – Here we see Rick having an intimate chat with a character we haven’t seen since Season 1. Sorry. No spoilers here! Enjoy!
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the unboxing of the Blu-ray set!!!
The Blu-ray’s elaborate and elegant mute-colored slip case.
The back of the slipcase. The cover art on back of Blu-ray case is the same.
The protective wrap covering the 5 begging to be watched Blu-ray discs inside!
Holy disc trays, Batman! Can you contain yourself any longer?!
Look at them all!
The booklet alone has every Walking Dead product you’d ever want!
Inserting the first Blu-ray disc for the very first time into my beloved Playstation 3.
And last but not least, here’s the main menu on the Blu-ray disc #1.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the above unboxing pics of the new Walking Dead 5-disc Blu-ray set. I truly do have a lot fun capturing the magic of opening a new Blu-ray for the very first time and that addictive aroma of the freshly sealed blue plastic that’s finally able to breathe real air. And I’m pretty sure no one else does them out there in the Blu-ray review world and I think as a consumer it’s cool to see the product and everything you’re getting before it’s actually in your hands. Don’t you?
As you can see it’s a pretty lengthy and monstrous review above to match a pretty monstrous and stupendous show in my opinion. I know and completely understand that nothing I can ever say will truly capture the magic and sheer brilliance of this show, so you’re just going to have to trust me, let your guards down and let The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season infect your living room and Blu-ray player as it has mine the past three seasons. And I’ll go on record by saying you don’t have to be a horror hound or a gore lover to appreciate all The Walking Dead has to offer. You just have to have a pulse and a heart, no matter how small, and let the show’s talented writers take care of the rest. Just one watch and you’ll be instantly hooked. I personally guarantee it! The Walking Dead is like crack for your Blu-ray player. Your disc drive craves it and it will always want to be fed more…just like the zombies always want more. Brains! Zombies…eat flesh! Give in! Become one of us…a Walking Dead fan!
The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season will be available on Blu-ray and DVD August 27th courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. If you like what you read above and appreciate the time I took out of my busy life to try and do this exceptional series and season justice on the white web pages of this site, then please show your support by pre-ordering The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season by clicking here or via the product link below. I truly appreciate your support and look forward to any comments, feedback or suggestions down below. Until the next time…