Monday, September 1, 2014

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season On Blu-ray Disc Set Review.

The Walking Dead from the outset tells two different location based stories a season, conveniently split at the midseason finale with the exception of the short introductory season which basically split the locations into Atlanta, Georgia and a quarry within sight of the Atlanta skyline and culminated in a trip to the CDC where Rick Grimes is told a secret regarding the zombie plague that makes their situation all the more harrowing. The second season masquerades itself as a largely one location season, but in actuality I would argue that the highway is a major force behind the actions of the entire season. How can this be? Well it is on the highway outside Atlanta where the group first encounters a zombie heard, which is the catalyst for the search for young Sophia, whose disappearance is what drives much of the action and heartache culminating in one of the most gut wrenching emotional moments in the entire season at the midseason finale. This in turn drives the rest of the second half of the season as the false sense of safety on the farm quickly erodes from both the inside of the group and outside as the walkers come hot on the heels of a major confrontation between characters and forces the survivors back on the road. For the road or highway is not just the source for the herds of walkers that drive the action at the beginning and then set the final curtain for the end of the series, but metaphorically the road is the place where they wanted to get back to, but are driven from and only get to return to narrowly at the end while a bit later, besides the fading fire, the survivors learn the horrible nature of the infection and the reality that everything they knew before as personified in the man made paved highways in and out of Atlanta are no longer safe. Survival will now depend on leadership and unorthodoxies methods.

The third season is the era of the "Ricktatorship" with the dichotomy set up by the brutality of this new world as played out between the doppelgängers of Rick and the Governor and the respective locations of the harsh zombie infested prison Rick's group cleans out and attempts to call home and the illusion of a normal small American town where it appears as though the values of a common good are being fostered, but the ultimate reality of Woodbury being a trap based upon manipulation and intimidation sets up the clash of the titans and ultimately what seems on the outside as the place no one would ever want to live in and the other being ideal exchange places in a world where the balance between pragmatism and humanity are frequently at odds.

This leads us into the fourth season where we pretty much discover greater threats within the prison that cannot be readily seen and the final battle between the Governor and Rick sends our survivors running in different directions in search of hope whether it is faith that two lovers will be reunited, a mission to save the world, and a journey to a safe haven that of course is not what it seems. The final words of Rick Grimes at the end of the season four finale will leave viewers so pumped up for season five that they will be binge watching the first four seasons just to satiate themselves until The Walking Dead returns in October and the absolute best way to watch the fourth season of the highest rated drama in basic cable history is through watching it on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.     

The five-disc Blu-ray set presents all of the fourth season episodes in beautiful full 1080p/24fps, (where available), in the (1.78:1) aspect ratio preserving the means by which the series was originally broadcast on AMC. A well mixed and aggressive lossless English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Soundtrack brings a higher fidelity and discreetness than one has ever heard on either the television broadcasts or even digital streaming. A French Language Dolby Surround Soundtrack as well English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and Spanish Language Subtitles are also encoded as options. 

In addition to the exclusive to Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Soundtrack, extended versions of the episodes "After" and "The Grove" are only available within this Blu-ray Disc set and are not on the DVD counterparts, which are sold separately. Retrospective audio commentaries for the episodes "30 Days Without An Accident", "Internment", "After", "Still", and "The Grove" feature the participation of Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Effects Make-Up Supervisor and Director Greg Nicotero, Co-Executive Producer Denise Huth, Director Julius Ramsay, Writer Angela Kang, and series Stars Scott Wilson, Danai Gurira, Emily Kinney, Norman Reedus, and for the first time viewing a completed episode of the series he is the lead in, Andrew Lincoln. There are actually two retrospective audio commentaries for "Still" with Emily Kinney participating in one and Norman Reedus participating separately on another. The average episode length is between 42 and 43 minutes while the average exclusive extended versions of the two select episodes run approximately 48 minutes each.

All of the bonus video features are on disc five and they include 16 Inside The Walking Dead featurettes and 16 Making of The Walking Dead featurettes as well, unfortunately these can only be viewed individually. There is no "Play All" feature for them. The rest of the extra value materials include a short regarding how the series draws inspiration from the comic (6:07), a short focusing on Actor Scott Wilson and his character of Hershel (7:59) and another focusing on Actor David Morrissey and his portrayal of The Governor (8:43), and a look at a college class with multiple lecturers including a mathematician, a physicist, public health specialist, psychologist and sociologist focusing on the science behind The Walking Dead (5:31). A look at the KNB EFX (18:20) as well as a featurette focusing on Rick's journey in the season (8:18) and a reel of eight deleted scenes that can be viewed either individually or in succession (9:14) wrap up the bonus features on disc five.

Two 32 second spots for The Walking Dead and Comic Book Men respectively precede the main menu on disc one. Within the BD case is an insert containing a limited time only redeemable code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of The Walking Dead: Season Four and an insert filled with advertisements for Walking Dead related merchandise. 

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season is available on Blu-ray Disc at retailers on and offline courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The fifth season of The Walking Dead will premiere on AMC in October of 2014.

(C) Copyright 2014 By Mark Rivera
All Rights Reserved.