Actors: Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yuen, Norman Reedus, Seth Gilliam
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Box set, Widescreen
Number of discs: 5
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Run Time: 600 minutes
What is there to say about “The Walking Dead” that hasn’t already been said. This cultural television phenomenon arrived with the successful revival of the zombie horror film, though it has outlasted the peak popularity of its cinematic counterpart. The post-apocalyptic television show has becomes something much more than just the usual horror trope, elevating the genre to something deeply profound and emotionally resonate. Not only is this series far better than nearly every zombie film in recent years, it is easily one of the best shows on television.
Season four’s choice to focus on the effects of a contagious illness rather than zombies or intruding humans was somewhat of a letdown after the sheer velocity of the action in season three, but the brilliance in the show comes from its ability to change. Storylines shift, locations move, and beloved characters can die without a moment’s notice. This is devastating at times, but there is no greater testament to how impressively constructed this series is than the impact the loss of a favorite character has on its audience. “The Walking Dead” has an extremely loyal fanbase, but it never feels as though they are being pandered to or appeased. This is a show with something to say, and it carries out its message with conviction, regardless of how upset it may make some people.
Season Five picks up the cliffhanger from the end of season four, with most of the group captured and trapped in a train car, awaiting an unknown fate. The one thing this season does better than any other is show the decline in all of civilization, with examples in the variety of brutal ways that human life is used in the apocalyptic wasteland. This begins with the group that has them trapped like animals, and their plans to treat their fellow humans like cattle. The opening five minutes of season five may be the most exciting and visceral moments of entertainment I have seen in years, on television or cinema screen.
Although the group always manages to survive, it is not always without loss. The obvious losses are the deaths of the purest in the group, but there is a far greater sacrifice in the loss of their innocence. The longer that they are out in the world, the more ugliness this tight-knit group comes across, and they are hardened in their need to survive. We come to a point in season five where it becomes about the morality of the world, and more importantly, of the characters. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is at the center of this, carrying the weight of his group’s survival on his shoulders until becoming something of a monster out of necessity. With the return of a character from earlier seasons, it should be interesting to see how this progresses in the new season, starting October 11th.
With the loyalty of its fans, each release of “The Walking Dead” comes with plenty of extras. The entire fifth season is included on four discs, though there is a fifth containing just deleted scenes and featurettes. These extras include several generic making-of featurettes, along with more focused ones that deal with specific characters only. Also included are “Day in the Life” featurettes for two of the latest additions to the cast, Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt. There are also audio commentaries for just under half of the episodes, with a variety of contributors ranging from the technical aspects of the show to the actors. One of the featurettes also nicely sums up past events, for those who need a refresher. Also included is a digital HD copy of the fifth season.
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 10/10
Historical Significance: 9.5/10