Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Scott Wilson, David Morrissey, Emily Kinney, Chad Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.
Directed by Various
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
“The Walking Dead” came into its fourth season with expectations for the show at an all-time high. And the creators delivered in spades. (This is loaded with spoilers, btw, so if you somehow haven’t seen it yet, stop reading here and just go away from this piece knowing the show still kicks major ass).
From the epidemic at the prison to the return of The Governor, the showdown, and everything that happened after the characters scattered, the show was so packed with action it’s hard to list even a fraction of it.
But in addition to the usual high-intensity content we normally get from “The Walking Dead,” Season 4 also brought us something else: in-depth character studies. Sure, we’ve gotten to know Rick and Carl quite well. But we really don’t know much about some of our favorite personalities on the show. Take Daryl Dixon, for example. He doesn’t exist in the comic book world and all we’ve really known is that he’s a badass and his brother Merle was a big dickhead. Season 4 expanded what we know of Daryl and gave us a better look into what makes him go. The same goes for Michonne.
However, it was these character-developing episodes that disappointed some fans during their original run on AMC. Fans didn’t want to wait an entire week for the newest episode of “The Walking Dead” only to have it feature just one of the storylines while they were left to wonder what was going on with everyone else. And that is the real beauty of binge-viewing “The Walking Dead” Season 4 on Blu-ray. You get all this important information about your favorite characters that the show’s creators haven’t had time to work into the show previously, and you don’t have to wait a week for the next segment. You can watch Beth and Daryl burn down the old house and then immediately check in with Carol, Tyreese, and Lizzie looking at the flowers.
And the mention of Carol and Tyreese brings up another positive for binge-viewing this season. The timeline works better, and Carol is a great example. Rick kicks Carol out of the group in Episode 4, “Indifference,” which originally ran on November 3, 2013. The following episode is basically Rick returning to the prison, telling Hershel about Carol, but no one else. Following that, there are two Governor flashback episodes, then the prison invasion, the mid-season break, and the episode reuniting Rick and Carl with Michonne. So when Tyreese and Carol reunite on the train tracks, it’s February 16, 2014. The time span on the show was only a couple of days, but it was over three months for the viewers to get to that point. Binge-viewing allows things to make more sense and makes a good thing even better.
“The Walking Dead” has proven itself to be a pit bull of a television show. Any week, at any time, it can lay the smack down on the audience in a way that few other programs on television can do. We knew going into the mid-season finale that something big was happening. And they gave us one of the greatest episodes in the history of the show. But who expected “The Grove”? Episode 14, we’re just kind of cruising along through the second half of the season on our way to Terminus, and we get… “Look at the flowers, Lizzy,” one of the most heart-wrenching episodes in “The Walking Dead” or any television show in recent memory. “The Walking Dead” has the power to floor its audience at any time. And it does so many times in S4.
The content of the season was phenomenal. The show elevated Hershel to an iconic level and then took him from us in the most brutal and emotional of ways. We saw The Governor rise again and bring another onslaught to Rick and his people. The separation and reunion of Glenn and Maggie was fantastic. We were introduced to some new characters like Abraham and Eugene, who will certainly have a future impact on the show. And perhaps most importantly, we got our Rick back. Andrew Lincoln has never been more effective in his role as Rick Grimes as he’s been this year. In this one season he’s brought Rick from a man striving for a peaceful existence to a man who finally realizes that this isn’t a world where a peaceful existence is possible, and sometimes you just have to bite a guy’s ear off.
Season 4 did have some slow sections, but it may only stand out so much to viewers because we’ve become used to “The Walking Dead” being consistently explosive. Taking the time to slow things down a bit when the characters were separated will undoubtedly allow the writers to delve deeper into the minds of the individuals who were highlighted this year, particularly Daryl and Michonne. Beth can also be included on this list if she’s not a McTerminus burger yet. (That’s not a spoiler, that’s a guess!)
And what would a Blu-ray of “The Walking Dead” be without some killer special features? This five-disc set is absolutely loaded with them. It contains “Inside ‘The Walking Dead,'” which features a five-minute segment on every single one of the 16 episodes. The “Inside” segments feature all the stars from the show as well as creator Robert Kirkman, producers, and directors. They are fascinating looks into the show that bring up things you may have missed and help to tie all the content in together. There is a “Making of ‘The Walking Dead'” feature that is broken up into 16 segments, one for each episode. These five-minute goodies also feature all the key players in the selected ep and focus on things like the F/X used, unique set design, etc. Anything that makes a specific episode stand out is mentioned in these vignettes.
There are tribute segments entitled “Hershel” and “The Governor Is Back” as well as a piece called “Drawing Inspiration” that shows how some of the imagery in Episode 9, “After,” was gleaned directly from The Walking Dead comic and how important the comic is for the show creators to use as a reference guide.
There is a bit entitled “Society, Science & Survival” on how the college of UC Irvine based an online class (that had 65,000 students from 90 countries) on “The Walking Dead” as well as a great 20-minute chat with Greg Nicotero and his crew from KNB EFX as they talk about everything from tribute zombies to detailed specifics on some of the most memorable F/X on the show. There’s even a detailed look at Rick’s journey from wannabe farmer back to brutality.
There are audio commentaries on five different episodes, three extended episodes, and a load of deleted scenes. You get all “The Walking Dead” Season 4 you could possibly want with this set with nearly 12 hours of show and all the special features on top of that.
“The Walking Dead” continues to be one of the most beloved shows on television. Although programs like “True Detective” and “Game of Thrones” have brought the pack closer to “The Walking Dead,” it continues to thrive as the current leader of genre television. And the erosion of quality in shows like “True Blood” and “Dexter” prove how difficult it is to maintain an excellent product over an extended period of time. “The Walking Dead” continues to do that as the fan base continues to grow. This Blu-ray set is a fantastic way to remember the most explosive season yet of America’s favorite zombie-flavored television show.
Blu-ray Only Special Features (click here for full release options and specs)
– Episodes 9 (“After”), 14 (“The Grove”), and 16 (“A”)
– Inside THE WALKING DEAD
– The Making of THE WALKING DEAD
– Drawing Inspiration
– The Governor Is Back
– Society, Science & Survival
– Inside KNB EFX
– A Journey Back to Brutality
– Deleted Scenes
– Episode 1 (“30 Days Without An Accident”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager Tom Luse, and Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor/Director Greg Nicotero
– Episode 5 (“Internment”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple and Actor Scott Wilson (Hershel)
– Episode 9 (“After”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor/Director Greg Nicotero, Co-Executive Producer Denise Huth, and Actor Danai Gurira (Michonne)
– Episode 12 (“Still”): Audio Commentary with Director Julius Ramsay and Actor Emily Kinney (Beth); Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Angela Kang and Actor Norman Reedus (Daryl)
-Episode 14 (“The Grove”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer Denise Huth, and Actor Andrew Lincoln
4 1/2 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5