Fear the Walking Dead: Season One – Special Edition (Blu-ray)

March 22, 2016 12 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

With the success of The Walking Dead, it was only a matter of time before they capitalized on it and did a spinoff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Even some of the better shows in television that have run their course have had spinoffs that have made a name for themselves as well. I’m thinking of Cheers that spinoff into Frasier, the Star Trek universe seems virtually unstoppable as does Law and Order. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Better Call Saul, the spinoff to Breaking Bad. So if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead and are getting a bit tired of seeing Rick and the gang trapse through the forests of Georgia, maybe it’s time to take a trip back to when the zombie apocalypse first started? Admittedly it’s an interesting concept and might answer some questions that fans have been wondering for years. Let’s take a trip to the coast, set the clock back a few years and see where and how it all began.

The first season of Fear the Walking Dead introduces us to the main set of players. As fans of The Walking Dead know, however, we might not get too attached to any one character as their time might be, well, limited. We meet Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), a high school guidance counselor who’s new boyfriend, Travis (Cliff Curtis) happens to be an English teacher. He’s got a family as does she, both with some issues. But there’s something rotten in the city of Los Angeles and it’s not long that the city is in peril, the military has taken over and there seems to be a “sickness” that’s infecting folks. As Travis and Madison manage to escape most of the turmoil, they encounter a few others and are held “secure” in their own homes by the military. But there’s something more going on here…

Running only 6 episodes, Fear the Walking Dead gives us just enough to whet our collective whistles. We’ve gotten to meet some of the characters, see their turmoil and problems and how they interact with one another. By the end of the run, it’s clear that we have an idea as to what to expect, but I’m willing to bet we’ll be thrown a few curves as well. I’m sure that everyone reading this will most likely know, but in case you don’t…this takes place about a month before the first season of The Walking Dead (essentially the time during when Rick was shot and when he wakes up in the hospital in the first episode of the first season). You’re welcome. We’re in for a treat with this spinoff and as much as I hate to add it to my lineup, I’ve got a new show to watch.

Video: How’s it look?

There’s certainly a different look and feel to this series as opposed to its predecessor. The sun-baked look of Los Angeles is certainly a far cry from the backwoods forests of Georgia. The 1.78:1 AVC HD image certainly looks the part though, as I was hard-pressed to find much, if anything, to complain about. The show is brand new, so we can rest assured that detail will be sharp, colors bold and strong and the like. One of the few things the supplements actually made me realize is that since the zombies are “new” they don’t have that decomposed look to them. And, sure enough, they’re right. We don’t see the undead walking around missing jaws or limbs, rather they look – well – normal (if that’s possible). Suffice it to say that there are no complaints as to how this looks visually.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The included Dolby TrueHD soundtrack also serves its purpose. There weren’t a lot of reasons for the show to flex its muscle, maybe a tank here or there and a helicopter, but nothing that really tested the limits of my setup. By and large, this is a dialogue-driven show and the vocals are clear, crisp and clean. Surrounds are active during a few of the more action-oriented scenes, but not much more. It’s a nice, well-rounded track that’s sure to satisfy.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A fairly bare bones release was issued just a few months ago and now we’ve got essentially the same thing, only with a lot more supplemental material. Ironically, the two supplements featured on the original Blu-ray are not present here. Go figure.

  • Audio Commentaries – Each of the six episodes contains an audio commentary track.
      Episodes 101 & 102: Co-Creator/Executive Producer Dave Erickson, Co-Executive Producer/Director Adam Davidson and Actor Kim Dickens

      Episode 103: Co-Executive Producer David Wiener and Actor Alycia Debnam-Carey

      Episode 104: Executive Producer David Alpert and Co-Executive Producer David Wiener

      Episode 105: Executive Producer David Alpert and Co-Executive Producer/Writer David Wiener

      Episode 106: Co-Creator/Executive Producer Dave Erickson and Actors Kim Dickens and Elizabeth Rodriguez

  • Pilot Episode: The Widescreen Version – This is kind of a head-scratcher. As the name entails, it’s just a 2.40:1 version of the first episode. I have no idea why they did it like this and there’s no disclaimer or information as to why it was done (or why it’s included). If there is, I must have missed it. If you wanted the extra viewing at the sides of the picture – here you go.
  • Deleted Scenes – About six minutes of deleted scenes are included again with no commentary and no reason why they were cut. They’re shown in 1.78:1 HD.
  • Featurettes
      Inside Fear the Walking Dead – This is actually broken down in to six shorter featurettes – one for each episode.

      • Episode 101 – Pilot – We get a general overview of the season along with some comments by the main players in the series. We learn what to expect, what viewers of The Walking Dead already know and the like.
      • Episode 102 – So Close, Yet So Far – Moving right along, we get the same candid commentary from the cast and crew, but they explain what’s happening as the episodes start to progress. They question what it is that’s going on and how the “virus” could be spreading.
      • Episode 103 – The Dog – As chaos continues to ensue, we get some additional comments from Rueben Blades who plays the patriarch of one of the families. Downtown Los Angeles is a mess and we get a sense as to what’s starting to happen.
      • Episode 104 – Not Fade Away – Nine days in, the neighborhood is now sequestered and we get the sense (via the actors) that things might be getting better on the outside.
      • Episode 105 – Cobalt – Executive Producer Dave Erickson informs us that this episode is all about betrayal. We see the torture inflicted on a soldier and some of the methods they’re willing to resort to get results.
      • Episode 106 – The Good Man  – The final episode of the season shows us that there really is the end of the world and it’s happening before their eyes.
  • FEAR: The Beginning – The actors essentially narrate what happens in the first few episodes of the season, how this differs from The Walking Dead. Interspersed with clips from the show, this  is a good crash course for those who don’t know what the show is about.
  • Five Things You Need To Survive – The cast members tell us what they’d need if the zombie apocalypse were to happen today.
  • Locations: LA & Vancouver – The locale of Los Angeles is shown and the city is a character in the series itself. The “glamour and glitz” is contrasted with the more working-class LA that’s portrayed in the show. The City of Angels is contrasted with that of Georgia from The Walking Dead. Vancouver is commonly used as a double for Los Angeles and we get a peek at some of the on location shots filmed there.
  • Quarantined – The sense of security (or a false sense) is portrayed in this featurette. What happens when the military or the police quarantine an area and the resulting emotions that result from this.
  • Stunts And Anarchy – A few of the stunts are showcased (when Nick gets hit by the car) and how the scenes were set and filmed.
  • The Faces Of Fear – We meet the main family in the series along with some commentary about drug addiction, support and how it all plays into the show as a whole.
  • The Infected – The sense of urgency to flee is shown here with the characters not knowing what’ going on, it’s a time for fact-gathering and relying on those who you trust. As we all know, it’s an exercise in futility.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a rabid fan of The Walking Dead and wanted a bit of a change (but still within the confines of the Walking Dead universe) then this might be for you. It’s a different perspective of what we’ve come to know and love for the past few years. The Blu-ray delivers what it’s supposed to,  and this Special Edition makes a purchase a little more palatable with the addition of more supplements.

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