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The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season (2012-2013)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/27/2013

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/31/201

For two seasons, I was a lone voice crying out in the woods, saying things like "Overrated" and "What show are you people watching?". While everyone was falling over themselves praising the television show The Walking Dead, I was trying to be the voice of reason, pointing out the fact that the show was merely recycling every zombie movie cliche in existence. Yes, I watched every episode waiting to see if I would be overcome by the fever, but the show insisted on focusing on human drama instead of zombie and only went in circles. But, suddenly, in Season Three, the clouds parted and became interesting. So, I present to you, the new and improved The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season.

(Editor's Note: Season Three of The Walking Dead can't be discussed without divulging things from Season Two, so read with caution if you are wary of spoilers.) The Walking Dead takes place in a world where the dead have/can come back to life and these reanimated corpses crave human flesh. The series focuses on a group of survivors in Georgia who are simply trying to find a safe place to live. Lead by former sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the group, which is ever dwindling as members get killed, fled Atlanta and eventually found solace on a farm owned by Herschel Greene (Scott Wilson). However, as Season Two came to a close, the group is forced to flee the farm, as it is overrun by "walkers". Rick takes most of the group, while Andrea (Laurie Holden) gets separated from the pack.

As Season Three begins, Rick's group finds a prison which is, of course, full of walking dead. However, the group realizes that it will make for a secure residence, so they go to work cleaning it out and making it safe. Given the fact that Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is very pregnant and that they are all exhausted, the group is happy to find a place to stay. However, they continue to face obstacles, not just from the dead, but from things like lack of food and other surprises found within the prison.

Meanwhile, Andea meets Michonne (Danai Gurira), a katana-wielding woman of few words who travels with two armless and jawless dead. Andrea and her new companion soon discover the town of Woodbury, a cozy little place which has been closed off to the outside and where the residents are attempting to lead normal lives. The town is run by The Governor (David Morrissey), a seemingly benevolent man who is hiding many secrets. While The Governor takes care of the people of Woodbury, he does not like the idea of survivors living elsewhere. When he learns that people are living in the nearby prison, he puts some things in motion which eventually lead to all out war.

OK, so here's the obvious question, why did I find Season Three of The Walking Dead, a show which has become huge, to be better than the first two seasons? There were several reasons for this. First of all, the show seemed more focused. Having two distinct locations and two distinct main storylines (the prison and Woodbury) meant that the show was able to dispense with being a "road show" which was all about the survivors traveling from place to place trying to find safety. Even when they are ensconced at Herschel's farm, there was still a sense that they would pack up and leave at any moment. Secondly, the Rick/Lori/Shane love triangle was done with. This is yet another one of those shows which likes to pile drama on top of its drama, but this whole soap-opera like side-story felt really out-of-place on the show and stole focus from bigger problems. ("I think my wife is cheating on me...uh oh, someone's trying to eat my face.") Finally, the last thing that this show needs is a villain, but if it's going to have one, then The Governor is a good one. I quickly lose interest in most zombie material, as the focus becomes "man's inhumanity towards man" and the zombies become an afterthought. The Walking Dead is just as guilty of this as anyone, and the zombies should be enough of a threat. But, Morrissey's compassionate yet sinister character brings a good tone to the show, and the juxtaposition between the nice, but grizzled and slightly crazy Rick and the polished, but untrustworthy Governor is nicely done.

Having said that, the show has yet to live up to all of the hype and the kudos which it receives. Yes, it is well-shot and well-acted and a big tip of the hat to Greg Nicotero and his crew for not shying away from the splatter effects. But, I still find the show to be very dull at times. While things certainly picked up in Season Three, the show still feels monotonous at times, which isn't good for a series which only features sixteen episodes in a season. I get that the whole point of the show is how would people survive in a world overrun by zombies (a word which is never uttered on the show), but there are too many times when the show veers away from horror and feels like any other nighttime drama. If the series can maintain the energy and focus found in Season Three while actually justifying the fact that living corpses are present, Season Four should be promising.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season tells Carl to stay in the _____ on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The five Disc set contains all 16 episodes from the show's third season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source material, and a slight amount of grain which is there for artistic purposes. The show often pushes the bleak, sunbaked look of the area, so the lack of more grain is a plus. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image is nicely detailed and certainly rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are well-done, most notably those which alert us to sounds happening to the left or right of the screen. The surround sound effects and musical cues rain down from the rear speakers, adding depth to the action scenes. I noted that certain musical notes and the explosions brought the subwoofer into the mix, but not in an overwhelming way.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Disc contains several extras, which are spread across the five Discs. Disc 1 offers an AUDIO COMMENATRY on the episode "Killer Within" with Director Guy Ferland and Irone Singleton. Disc 2 brings us an AUDIO COMMENTARY on "Say the Word" from Director/Co-Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-up Artist Greg Nicotero and Danai Gurira and also one for "Made to Suffer" with Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman, Executive Producers David Alpert and Gale Anne Hurd and Danai Gurira. On Disc 3 we find a COMMENTARY on "The Suicide King" with Hurd and Gurira. The episode "This Sorrowful Life" shows off its COMMENTARY from Nicotero and Michael Rooker on Disc 4. The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 5. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 13 minutes and are culled from various episodes. We get eight FEATURETTES -- "Rising Son" (7 minutes), "Evil Eye" (8 minutes) "Gone, But Not Forgotten" (8 minutes), "Heart of a Warrior" (8 minutes), "Michonne vs. The Governor" (5 minutes), "Safety Behind Bars" (10 minutes), "Making the Dead" (8 minutes), and "Guts and Glory" (8 minutes) -- which focus on various aspects of the series, including Carl, The Governor, Lori, Michonne, the prison set and the way it's used in the story, zombie effects, and the deaths on the show.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.