The Walking Dead: Season Three [Blu-Ray]

The Walking Dead: Season Three [Blu-Ray]
7
To overcompensate for complaints of slow pacing levied last season by viewers keener to see heads burst than minds expanded, the third instalment of The Walking Dead on the small screen barely pauses to catch its breath. It's a plot-heavy, action-packed sequence of events from the source comic's most dramatic story arc. There are so many significant moments and new characters introduced that the few extra episodes afforded the creators this season aren't quite sufficient to alleviate the sense that everything is a hurried dash through bombastic narrative moments at the expense of organic character development. It makes for relentlessly exciting viewing, granted, though the leaps in logic are lager and motivations less clearly defined as a result. With the ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors finding a semi-abandoned prison to call home, following the destruction of Hershel's farm, the timing was perfect to settle into a rhythm of stories dealing with Laurie's pregnancy and the trust issues associated with admitting new members to the group. While these both happen, the show runners accelerate the timeline to bring Rick and the others into conflict with the Governor. David Morrissey's reading of the iconic comic book villain is inspired and the decision to slowly reveal his psychosis makes perfect sense for television. Conversely, how the show deals with his adversarial relationship with sword-wielding badass Michonne (Danai Gurira) isn't very satisfying. In fact, a large part of the issue with this season is how little the stoic zombie slayer gets to do other than decapitate biters and scowl. The character is so implicitly likeable though (who isn't a sucker for a strong, mysterious female killing machine?) that she's still a joy to behold in action, but where before there was rationale, now there is nothing more than gut instinct to her initial malicious dislike of the founder of the community of Woodbury. Much of the story this season is divided between the two groups, focusing on the campaign of disinformation leading to their violent conflict. The writers are able to juggle these perspectives quite ably; it's individual character decisions that feel abrupt sometimes without a greater contextual framework. Despite clumsier overall handling of complex sociological themes, the show is still compelling. This is aided in great part by the continual sense of instability. As always, none of the characters are safe and regular readers of the comics are in for as many, if not more, surprises as television-first fans. The bonus content for the Blu-Ray edition of Season Three is heavy on production features. And why shouldn't it be? can still take pride in having the best undead creature effects in the history of moving pictures. "Making the Dead" is a celebration of all things hungry for brains. Elsewhere, on an entire disc dedicated to extras, are featurettes for each of the season's major storylines. "Rising Son" discusses the importance of Carl's development, with insightful comments from Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays his mother, Lori, among other actors, writers and producers. "Evil Eye" concentrates on the Governor and the key differences between the screen and paper versions of the character, with Robert Kirkman and a very well spoken David Morrissey. The last of the character-centric features is "Heart of a Warrior," in which the cast and creators talk at length about everyone's favourite dreadlock-sporting, katana-swinging survivalist. For a little additional fan-bait, "Michonne vs. the Governor" covers the brutal physicality colouring the majority of their interactions. There are also a couple of odes to fallen characters you won't want to know about unless you've seen every episode and a detailed look at the construction of the prison set, with Robert Kirkman visibly weirded-out witnessing a facet of his imagination come to life. Scattered across the other discs are quite a few deleted scenes — nothing essential, but a few nice character moments. Additionally, five episodes are provided with commentary tracks. Director Guy Ferland and actor Irone Singleton aren't especially charismatic or informative in theirs, but the two by special effects wizard and occasional director Greg Nicotero display a deep care for, and understanding of, the show. Danai Gurira participates in one of Nicotero's chats, as well as a giggly snoozer with producer Gale Anne Hurd and, the best of the batch, a commentary with Kirkman, Hurd and executive producer David Alpert. That should be enough undead action to keep viewers occupied until the start of the fourth season. (Anchor Bay)