When I reviewed the original Blu-ray release of The Walking Dead Season 1, I gave the show itself high marks, but noted that the bonus features were a bit light considering the popularity of the show and its dedicated fanbase.

Anchor Bay is looking to correct that with the release of The Walking Dead Season 1 3-Disc Special Edition. All of the extras from the previous release are included, along with new features, audio commentary, and a black & white version of the pilot episode.

The Show Itself:

Having reviewed the show during its original airing and now multiple Blu-ray releases, I've see the first season quite a few times. The show holds up very well after multiple viewings and I still feel the same way about the show that I did the first time. I really like what they've put together for the first 6 episodes, but I also feel like the first season acts more like a teaser for for future seasons. Most zombie fans will obviously love the show, but whether or not The Walking Dead will maintain its quality and popularity for the long term remains to be seen. Here are some thoughts from my initial review:

If you’ve seen any of the Romero “dead” films, you will be right at home with The Walking Dead. The “zombie rules” are pretty much the same, so aim to the head and don’t let them bite you! Also, like the Romero films, The Walking Dead focuses on the relationships between the characters involved and many of the problems the characters encounter are from human nature, more than the walking dead.

We only get 6 episodes for the first season of The Walking Dead, so this plays more like a mini-series or long pilot episode, than a full season. We are introduced to over a dozen characters, some of which we don’t really get a chance to know yet. There are also plenty of plotlines that are briefly started, but never expanded upon or completed. For that reason, it is hard to view this as a complete work, but these 6 episodes really lay the groundwork for a promising second season.

And let’s not forget what instantly drew viewers into this show, the zombies themselves. I’m sure horror fans will watch the show and not flinch at the level of gore in the show, but it is really a first for basic cable. They have taken what would equal an R-rating in theaters and managed to put it on the small screen and draw in millions of viewers. This really is a big accomplishment for the horror genre and shouldn’t go unmentioned.

As far as AMC is concerned, The Walking Dead is already a success. With millions of viewers, the second season was announced in the middle of the first season airing, so we will be getting another 13 episodes in October of 2011. Personally, I feel it is too early to say if this show has been successful. We’ve basically been given a teaser of this world and the main characters.

In order for this show to be a long term success, we’ll have to see where Darabont and crew take these characters. As long as they focus on character building and acting over sex and action, I think this show will have legs. I’m really happy that there is a full-fledged horror drama on television, and look forward to upcoming seasons.

To read more of my review of the show itself, visit: http://dailydead.com/review-the-walking-dead-season-1/

Show Score: 4/5

Blu-ray Disc and Bonus Features:

Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions have the exact same list of new bonus features, which include:

-Pilot Episode: The B&W Version
-Audio Commentaries On All 6 episodes
-We Are The Walking Dead
-Bring Out The Dead: KNB And The Art of Making Zombies
-Digital Decay: The VFX of The Walking Dead
-No More Room in Hell: The Walking Dead Phenomenon
-Adapting The Dead
-Killer Conversations: Frank Darabont & Greg Nicotero

All previously released bonus features are also included:

-Inside THE WALKING DEAD: Episode 1 – 6
-A Sneak Peek With Robert Kirkman
-Behind the Scenes Zombie Make-Up Tips
-Convention Panel with Producers
-Zombie School
-Bicycle Girl
-On Set With Robert Kirkman
-Hanging With Steven Yeun
-Inside Dale's RV
-On Set With Andrew Lincoln

Most of the extras from the original release were "featurettes" that had a running time of around 5 minutes. I'm happy to say that the list of new bonus features easily surpass that running time, with "We Are The Walking Dead" running at nearly an hour.

While true for many successful productions, these bonus features really show how much time and effort was put into this show, as well as the passion that the cast and crew have for creating something special. Each episode now has audio commentary, which feature different cast and crew members on each episode including Frank Darabont, Greg Nicotero, Andrew Lincoln, Robert Kirkman, and Jon Bernthal. It is really interesting to hear the various cast and crew members talk about what went into making a particular episode, adapting the story from the comic, or the reason behind specific scenes and even camera angles.

Also included in the special edition is a black & white version of the pilot episode. I liked being able to see how the show could have looked if they stuck to the black & white version, following a look that more closely resembled the comic series. However, I wouldn't consider this a must-see extra or reason alone to pick up the special edition.

Out of all the bonus features, my personal favorites were the VFX and KNB features which give a good behind-the-scenes look at the make-up and visual effects. The Walking Dead is really pushing the envelope on zombie effects, as well as gore on basic cable, and it is interesting to see what goes into creating the zombies and how visual effects in moderation enhance various scenes on the show without looking out of place.

The bonus features included in the original release of The Walking Dead Season 1 left much to be desired, and I am really impressed with what was included in the special edition version. I hope to see a similar release for future seasons and would also like to see the special edition released at the same time as the basic Blu-ray/DVD release.

Disc Score: 4.5/5

Final Thoughts

If you're a rabid fan of anything The Walking Dead, you'll want to pick up The Walking Dead Season 1 Special Edition. There are hours worth of new bonus features, and the audio commentary and features are great for those that want to know more about what goes on behind-the-scenes. While Anchor Bay has done a fantastic job of putting together bonus features for the special edition, this version may not be of interest to you if you already own the first season and don't care enough about bonus features to buy the season over again.

If you don't own the original first season release and aren't sure which version to buy, it all comes down to bonus features. If you like to watch all of the extras, you'll want the special edition. If all you care about is the episodes, you can stick with the original release. Overall, The Walking Dead Season 1 Special Edition is a great release for fans of The Walking Dead who want to learn more about the making of the show.