The Walking Dead-Complete Fourth Season (2010)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Multiple
|Year Of Production||2010|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (5)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Ernest R. Dickerson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Over the past ten years or so, television series have taken a huge leap forward in quality and popularity with some series achieving notoriety well beyond movies. Series that have made this category include Mad Men, True Blood, Game of Thrones and the series which is the subject of this review The Walking Dead. They have driven huge sales in DVD and Blu-ray, assisted the sales of subscription television such as Foxtel in this country and also been hugely successful in official and unofficial/illegal download channels. Although a big fan of the first three series I mentioned above, I have come to The Walking Dead quite recently, gorging on the first four seasons in quick secession, culminating in this series which has just been released on DVD here in Australia. This show is based on a series of graphic novels and was originally developed by Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption.
For those who are not aware of the series, the basic concept is that the world has been overtaken by a virus which has turned most of the population into flesh eating zombies (known as 'walkers' to the main characters) who are mobile but have no higher brain functions. They walk around looking for meat to eat, animal or human, they don't really care. If humans are bitten by a zombie they will die and turn into a zombie themselves unless they can amputate the site of the bite quickly. Even if humans die naturally or of other causes they become zombies as everyone on earth seems to be infected with the virus causing the problem. A zombie or walker can only be killed if its brain is stopped usually by a blade or bullet to the head. Society has basically fallen apart and the only people who are surviving are in small groups, living from hand to mouth generally as they travel around looking for safe places to stop. The action mostly takes place in the countryside of the US state of Georgia. The series has focused on one such group, led by a former policeman Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who has successfully led the group through numerous challenges over the first three seasons, although they have certainly lost people along the way. He has tried to protect people in the group and deal with other survivors in a moral and reasonable way, although he is certainly not afraid of killing (either walkers or humans) to protect his group and children. At the end of the previous season, Rick and his group had successfully seen off a challenge from another group in a local town called Woodbury, led by a psychopath calling himself The Governor (David Morrisey). They are living in an old prison and have taken in many of the survivors of Woodbury including older people and children. The prison has good fences surrounding it giving them protection from the walkers and space to start growing crops and raising livestock. The action in Season 4 starts with them having been living in relative peace for six months, growing crops and starting to build a fledgling community. Rick has tried to step back from the stress of running the community and is focusing on farming and raising his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) and baby daughter Judith. Of course, this idyllic existence cannot last as this is a post-apocalyptic dystopian future so things soon start to unravel with an infection causing deaths within the group, the return of The Governor and more troubles which unfold over the 16 episodes included in Season 4. Other important members of the group (at the start of this season) include
Others join the group during the season in a variety of ways. This fourth season is excellent television with lots of drama both interpersonal and intergroup during the season. The central group must work together to avoid ending up dead or entrenched in a group they cannot live within. They are impacted by running into a few different external groups, all different but generally dangerous. Most of the action and story arc in this season is driven by how different people react to the new world and try to survive in it. A big challenge for the central group is trying to decide who they can trust to join their group and who is out to destroy them. The writing is excellent throughout, the acting by the central ensemble is wonderful and the show is thrilling and dramatic. There is also lots of gory action for those who are looking for zombie head smashing. There is one particular episode in the second half of the season which is moving and somewhat horrifying, staying with the viewer for some time afterwards. The season ends with a huge cliff-hanger and a great final line, setting up for Season 5, which has just started on Foxtel as I write. The first episode of the new season continues the excellent work.
This DVD set contains five discs, with the 16 episodes (plus some commentaries) spread over the first four discs and with the fifth disc containing voluminous extras.
The video quality is very good however is restricted by the artistic choice to film the show on 16mm.
The episodes are presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The picture was quite clear and sharp considering the source. This was impacted by the grain which is inherent in the process of converting 16mm film to digital. Shadow detail was quite good.
The colour is excellent showing off the woods of Georgia.
There are no obvious artefacts other than the sometimes obvious grain.
There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which were clear and easy to read.
There is no obvious layer change during the episodes.
The audio quality is very good.
These discs contain an English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 along with an option for 2.0 and the commentaries in 2.0.
Dialogue was challenging to understand at times driven by accents and some mumbling. The subtitles prove useful from that perspective.
The theme music and score are a major ingredient in the feel of the show, adding significant tension and drama to proceedings. The score is by Bear McCreary who has many excellent television scores to his credit.
The surround speakers were used a lot for music, sound effects and various scares and off-screen dialogue.
The subwoofer supported the music and action scenes.
|Surround Channel Use|
A large collection of quality extras are included.
The menu featured motion and music.
There are six audio commentaries provided for 5 episodes, as follows
This contains episode by episode featurettes which focus on the story and themes of each episode including interviews with cast and crew and scenes from the episodes. Good extra.
Similar to the first extra except that these featurettes focus on the making of each episode including sets, locations, FX, dummies, stunts, prosthetics and more. Interesting stuff.
Covers the mid-season finale episode which is directly based on some issues of the graphic novel. Discusses the process of adapting it for television.
A featurette on one of the most loved characters in the group Hershel Greene. Cast and crew discuss the character and the actor playing him.
A featurette on one of the main baddies in the last two seasons which discusses his arc and his similarities to Rick.
Interesting featurette about a university course developed by a University in California that uses the show as a setting off point for studying human nature, science and more.
A panel discussion by the makeup and prosthetic studio boffins who discuss how they design the various items, use of amputee actors, tribute zombies they have included, to other genre films and shows and more. Interesting.
A featurette focused on Rick's character arc in Season 4 and whether or not you can come back to normality after living a brutal existence.
Probably nothing essential here but they are certainly worth having. The last one especially is interesting.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This show is available on Blu-ray locally and all versions seem to have the same extras. Buy local.
The video quality is very good considering the 16mm source.
The audio quality is very good.Great set of extras.
|DVD||SONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer|