The Walking Dead - The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray]
Author: Nick Venable
published: 2012-09-13 03:10:05
Blindly throw a rock and youíre bound to strike one of the blandly ubiquitous zombies amassed throughout pop cultureís abandoned landscapes. (Youíll want it back to bludgeon them with it eventually.) Singularly bland for their lack of communication skills, these monsters are used as metaphors forcing the living to realize that communication and togetherness are the only viable things left when there is nothing else. Or on The Walking Dead, theyíre used for top-notch gore effects, and everyone alive just talks about their own problems. But they sure bring in the ratings.
If this is your cup of brains, youíd be having a seriously bad day not to enjoy the bloody shit out of this Walking Dead Season Two Blu-ray set. Who else was having a bad day? Frank Darabont and last seasonís writers, after their mishandled departure, among others. Regardless of my mixed opinions on this series as a whole, the set definitely reaches the top tier of what I think makes great TV on DVD or Blu-ray. Of course it looks and sounds better than on-air broadcasts, but the difference is very noticeable; the music and effects sound incredible. A shame the actual footage is exactly the same.
Because this show, more than most, begs for people to hide in underground spoiler-free bunkers, Iíll tread the details carefully. My problems with The Walking Dead lie in the pacing, as well as in AMC splitting the season up into two major arcs. The first, which Iíll call ďHerschelís Farm/ Is Sophie Really Still Missing?Ē is a slow-burning dud accomplishing little beyond butterknifing intra-personal politics onto characters, as Season One survivors meet a close-knit family of secret-mongers. (Too bad you canít cure hunger with secrets in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse). I get character building, and I have to say it works much better in a home entertainment format, where I can zip from one episode to the next with ease. Some shows mature in the six days between episodes; Walking Dead often appears more glaringly incongruent the more one thinks about it. Again, marathon viewings lessen this.
The second half, which I call ďRick and Shane Donít Play Nice,Ē certainly ups the amount of dramatic flair and shock-drawing moments. Where the first section was partly about sacrificing everything for one person, this half is about sacrificing one person for everything. Walking Dead is far from shy about both clumsily and eloquently pitting characters together in emotional and physical conflict. All of this comes to a head, as even lead characters are susceptible to mental breakdowns and erroneous decision-making. Conceptually, the rift between Rick, Shane, and Herschel is multi-dynamic and completely relatable from everyoneís point of view; however, the writing and acting doesnít always reflect this.
My love for the comic bleeds over and makes me want to absolutely love this show. I like that Darylís character, still a wisecrackiní hardass, is given room to define himself. Glenn and Maggieís growing relationship is almost cute at times. I still hate Lori and Carl, but I get to see them in pain here. And of course thereís the brilliant make-up and effects work by trade master Greg Nicotero. There are minutes where I do truly love whatís happening. Inevitably, though, it remains the show where characters relentlessly repeat what the audience already knows, and the flow of enjoyment is stalled. Luckily, the discs are filled with other stuff to pay attention to.
Five episodes include highly involved commentaries from Executive Producer Glen Mazzara, joined for each episode by a small group, including comic creator Robert Kirkman, Nicotero, and various writers and cast members. Thankfully, these are the five most important episodes in the season, including the premiere and finale. The pacing is defended, the last-minute decision to extend the premiere is explained, comparisons between comic arcs and TV arcs are made, and Nicotero, speaking on episodes he directed, talks about the transition between second and first-unit camera work. And of course, all major surprises are discussed at length. All in all, I was almost convinced the season was better than I thought.
There are six Nicotero-directed webisodes clocking in at around twenty minutes. They take place as the zombie outbreak is first growing widescale and the story is about the survival efforts of a mother and her family. Itís uneven, heavy-handed, and emotional, but works well for what it is (namely promotional material). Maybe next time it would help if the constantly paraded sponsor, was a company more horrifying than Pizza Hut. Like Little Caesars.
A half-hour of deleted scenes reminds you that sometimes editors sit through lots of shit to get a halfway pleasing final product. Almost half is chopped material from the premiereís two-episode combination. Yes, this series could have been more boring.
A hodgepodge of featurettes will seal the deal for many. These eleven behind-the-scenes features last right around an hour, and are too numerous to detail here. One of the standouts includes a breakdown of the nastiness that is Rick and Darylís frantic autopsy of a zombie as they search its innards for clues to Sophieís disappearance; itís fun to watch adults get grossed out. Composer Bear McCreary deservedly gets a spotlight featurette and talks about the older cinematic influences guiding his orchestral approach to scoring the series. Foley artists also shine, squelching noises intact. Zombie wardrobe, stunts big and small, and character arcs also get fleshed out. As a comic fan, I loved when Kirkman talks adaptation comparisons and explanations for variations.
Not yet the survival horror classic it may soon become, The Walking Dead is headed into a season that contains one of the comicís most powerful storylines. If this seasonís pacing is the worst the series gets, then we viewers are lucky.
P.S. This review was rated using ninja stars. In case of a zombie attack, just come back to Cinema Blend for all your weaponry needs.
Length: 578 min.
Distributor:Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
Release Date: 08/28/2012
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Norman Reedus, Scott Wilson
Directed by:Ernest Dickerson, Greg Nicotero, Billy Gierhart, Guy Ferland
Written by:Glen Mazzara, Robert Kirkman, Angela Kang, Evan Reilly
Back to top