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6 Degrees Entertainment

The Walking Dead: Complete Fifth Season [Blu-ray]
(Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yuen, Norman Reedus, Seth Gilliam, et al / 5-Disc Blu ray / NR / 2015 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Overview: In this uncertain world, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of survivors must not only fight the dead, but also face a whole new fear: the living. In this 16 episode season, the series Entertainment Weekly called the “greatest thriller ever produced for television”, Rick and his fellow survivors continue to seek refuge in a desolate and post-apocalyptic world and soon discover that there are greater forces to fear than just the walking dead.

Blu ray Verdict: For those that came in late to 'The Walking Dead,' well, I know you're enjoying the ride here in season 5 - but where the hell have you been all this time?!

Wow, what can I say about this series that's not been said a hundred times before? Well, it's pretty much pitch perfect. I have watched pretty much every Romero 'Living Dead' movie, every 'Resident Evil' movie, and played many video games that feature the zombie apocalypse or some variation thereof.

This series draws from each of those (my son and I had fun during the first season, pointing out the inspiration for certain scenes, set pieces and motifs), but it really takes the genre into new territory. I've only just concluded the entire fifth season last night - it's a long, tiring ride doing them back-to-back, trust me - but it's noticeable that every single episode since the very first one of the first season has moved the plot forward. They have developed the relationship between the characters, and taken a new twist on the zombie apocalypse idea that makes you both squirm and applaud the writers.

Every actor so far seems believable and true to their character. But the characters are not static - they change in believable ways as the story line moves forward. The young boy, for instance, who seemed rather annoying for a while, seems to be growing into a strong, hardened force of his own in a manner similar to the development of Anakin Skywalker - hopefully he'll turn out better, but either way it makes for engaging viewing. Every other character gets their chance to add something to the story as well.

For a quick recap, so to speak, season four of 'The Walking Dead' ended with Rick and the group outgunned, outnumbered, and trapped in a train car awaiting a grim fate. Season Five picks up shortly thereafter. What follows is a story that weaves the true motives of the people of Terminus with the hopeful prospect of a cure in Washington, D.C., the fate of the group's lost comrades, as well as new locales, new conflicts, and new obstacles in keeping the group together and staying alive.

This very first episode of this incredible fifth season is called “No Sanctuary,” and is easily one of the most action-packed, bloodiest of the entire series! Remember, again, season four concluded with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped in a shipping container at the mercy of Gareth and his band of cannibals. The outlook was bleak. But with outside aid, well, just at the very last moment, trust me here, they get the aid they so richly deserve.

Now, apart from that season opening episode and the last few finale episodes, people will say - and kinda rightly so, sometimes - that the show all too often lapses into long, talky sequences that slow the pace and kill suspense. Well, that's done intentionally to allow you to draw breath, to allow the show to progress and create more suspenseful moments for you up ahead.

'The Walking Dead' is, after all, a show about humans defending themselves from becoming zombie meals, but we have back stories, conflicts, and assorted treks to supposedly safe locations to add into the mix also. Also, the special effects are the best on television, easily ranking with what you can see in Hollywood features. The producers keep coming up with new and ghastly images, and I suppose that’s what keeps viewers coming back also.

I mean, sure, it’s tough sustaining any series for more than three seasons, especially one whose goal is shocking viewers. Even deaths of key characters have become slightly predictable (to us true, devoted followers), occurring for the most part in season finales. Still, despite these small shortcomings, 'The Walking Dead' is a gruesomely effective horror series - and, again, the best of its kind currently on TV. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

Featurettes: Inside THE WALKING DEAD, The Making of THE WALKING DEAD, The Making of Alexandria, Beth's Journey, Bob's Journey, Noah's Journey, Tyreese's Journey, A Day In The Life of Michael Cudlitz, A Day In The Life of Josh McDermitt, Rotters In The Flesh
Audio Commentaries
Deleted Scenes