Walking Dead: Season Two [Blu-Ray]

Walking Dead: Season Two [Blu-Ray]
This masterful second outing swiftly silences any lingering doubts regarding the television incarnation of The Walking Dead's potency after a thrilling but underwhelming first season. Where previously there was a tendency to manufacture grand theatrical moments that veered away from the source comic's deliberately seething interpersonal drama for the sake of spectacle (like that bombastic CDC excursion), there's now a confident emboldening of intimate events strongly connected to the story's themes of guilt (survival), pride (responsibility) and envy (love). A group of survivors of the ongoing zombie apocalypse negotiate the moral and ethical uncertainty of group preservation in the face of societal collapse and constant peril. You don't need to look for ways to super-size a situation that heavy. The writers do a fantastic job of expanding Shane's journey this season, rendering his gradual loss of control with disturbing sympathy. Exacerbated by conflicting senses of guilt and envy for having banged his best friend's wife, Shane's harsh, pragmatic view puts him at odds with most of the group. He's the first to abandon civility when as the rag-tag caravan, led by fellow alpha Rick, insist that retaining a grasp on humanity is paramount, though each and every one of them (save Dale, whose morality is fixed) regularly face rigorous testing. The amazingly detailed zombie make-up continues to be the most artfully disgusting ever created. An interesting effect of this is that being saturated with such horror desensitizes the viewer, much like how the characters are by their new standard of normalcy. There's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage with gore maestro Greg Nicatero on this excellent Blu-Ray collection. "All the Guts Inside" and "In the Dead Water" focus on a few of the more elaborate creatures, while "You Could Make A Killing" shows Nicatero's progressively integral role in the world of the Walking Dead. That includes directing episodes and the decent six-part webisode series, which explores the past of one particularly iconic undead torso. Series creator Robert Kirkman participates heavily in the special features, showing a mix of humility and mischievousness while discussing changes made to the story, commenting on the excitement that comes from seeing images from your imagination given physical life ― and then destroyed. Giving the sound team its due, composer Bear McCreary explains his inspirations (Bernard Herman meets bluegrass) and reasoning for the judicious application of music in the series in "The Meat of the Music" and light is shed on the vital role of Foley artists in "The Sound of the Effects." Other than a mostly redundant set of clips in AMC promo piece "The Cast on Season 2," the features pack a reasonable mix of candid cast reactions and stimulating footage that doesn't overstay its welcome. Additionally, there are eight episodes' worth of deleted scenes, most significantly, large portions of an alternate season premiere. Optional commentary from showrunner Glen Mazzara is refreshingly critical, emphasizing the strict standard of dangerous emotional plausibility that makes The Walking Dead one of the most consistently shocking and enthralling stories being told, not just in comics, but also by television. (Anchor Bay)