When The Walking Dead Season 1 was first released on Blu-ray/DVD, it contained minimal bonus features and a special edition version was released at a later date. Thankfully, that is not the case with this week's release of The Walking Dead Season 2, which provides a solid season combined with an extensive set of special features that will easily please fans of the series.
Season 2: The Walking Dead Season 2 introduces us to new characters, along with plenty of zombies and unpredictable deaths viewers come to expect from the first season. Continuing right after the events of the Season 1 finale, Season 2 finds the group on the road. They quickly come across a farm owned by Hershel Greene and the season revolves around Rick trying to make the farm a place for his family to live. The season was split when it aired, but you could say that the story is also split. The focus of the first half is introducing us to Hershel's farm and the search for a missing Sophia. The second half of the season focuses on fractures in the group and Rick making difficult decisions.
The great thing about this show, and in particular this season, is that it provides the audience with a number of moral dilemmas. There isn't always a clear sense of what position is right or wrong and the show doesn't pass judgment on these characters or their actions. The later episodes did a particularly great job demonstrating this, and I'd often talk to people who would side with different characters or were split on which position to take.
When the season first aired, there were a number of criticisms about the first half being slow, but I feel that it isn't an issue when you are not waiting for a single episode per week. Like many TV shows, some episodes will feature more action than others. Looking at this season as a complete piece, you are introduced to new characters and a new location, and then things begin to unravel and snowball into the events of the season finale.
Instead of having major issues with the first episodes, what I do see is a huge quality bump in the pacing and writing of the individual episodes over the course of the season. Some TV series are strong from the start, while others take some time to get into their groove and improve over time. My main criticism of the first season was that it felt like we were just given a taste of what the full series could be. With The Walking Dead Season 2, I feel like the series was off to a good start and evolved to something better by the end. Those who haven't read the comic book series may not know exactly where the story is heading, but the show is still evolving and these first two seasons have really been the calm before the storm.
Bonus Features: Now, let's talk about what's on the disc. We get all 13-episodes of the second season, with the Blu-ray version featuring a superb video transfer and audio track. Depending on your home theater setup, this is likely to look and sound better than what you previously watched on AMC's HD channel and I can't see anyone being disappointed with this.
The bonus features included with this release are pretty substantial, with the big item for me being the deleted scenes. For those who aren't aware, a significant chunk of the premiere episode was removed when they decided to combine two episodes into a single 90-minute premiere. Many fans have wondered if we'd see the Vatos again and you'll find out what happened to them in these deleted segments. Not only are the scenes lengthy, but they include optional commentary from showrunner Glen Mazzara who explains the reason for the footage being removed. This is a great way to get a better understanding of the creative process and understand why certain decisions were made.
I'm sure that a majority of the people watching the series are not aware that Greg Nicotero directed 6 webisodes and they are included on the disc, giving us the backstory of the iconic "Bicycle Girl" zombie. If you haven't been following the making of the second season from AMC's previous video releases, you'll get a chance to learn more by watching the eleven featurettes that have been included. They cover everything from zombie guts, to sound effects, and one of the big scenes from the season finale.
Episode commentary is included and you'll be able to hear from various members of the cast and crew, such as Glen Mazzara, Robert Kirkman, Norman Reedus, and Greg Nicotero. My only issue is that the commentary is only available on five of the thirteen episodes. I understand that there are time constraints, but am sure that fans would like to have seen commentary for every single episode.
Aside from wanting additional commentary, this is an exceptional list of bonus features. Combined with quality audio and video, this is a fantastic package that really sets the bar for how TV series releases should be handled.
Final Thoughts: For those who have yet to watch The Walking Dead Season 2, I give this season a solid recommendation. There might be some room for improvement, but this is one of the best horror-themed TV series and it is an impressive accomplishment, especially when you consider the subject matter, scope of the series, and the fact that it's playing on basic cable. I'd also suggest this as a must-own release for fans of the TV series. You'll be able to revisit these episodes in the highest quality possible and will learn much about the making of the series from the extensive bonus features.