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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season'
(Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, David Morrissey, Danai Gurira, et al / 5-Disc Blu ray / NR / 2013 / 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 3 - 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 season 3 series 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.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leads his extended family to safety within the walls of a federal prison, clearing the grounds and buildings of zombies, only to face a deadlier menace from humans who are only a few miles away.

The others, living in the well-fortified town of Woodbury, aren't so much the problem as their leader, a manipulative sociopath, who calls himself The Governor. Played in a brilliant, tour de force performance by David Morrissey, he defines the word "diabolical."

And we all thought Merle Dixon, Daryl's (Norman Reedus) older brother from Season One, was a bad guy. Turns out Merle, played with redneck panache by Michael Rooker, is working for The Governor. It also turns out that, while Merle seems pretty much the misogynistic bigot he always was, he has become much more violent since meeting Woodbury's boss.

Body counts among zombies and humans continue to rise while the brothers Dixon share a tragic story arc. Sad to say, we also lose some characters we've known since Season One.

The effects are terrific and modern, without looking particularly CGI (with the exception of one building explosion in Season 2!). But, hey I'm loving all everything else so why stop and worry about that one scene.

Somewhere along the line you forget that it's another "end of the world" story and just dig in and enjoy the interactions between the characters. Who would ever have thought that Darryl would become what he has (no spoilers from me)? I love that the characters are flawed. Even better, everyone is real looking. By that, I mean that we don't have some former pageant queen trying to play an average character. I'm not saying that any of the actors aren't attractive, but they look like folks you'd meet in the streets and not some airbrushed, implant stuffed, brain-dead bimbo!

Which begs the question: Why hasn't "The Walking Dead" received any Emmy nominations outside of Best Prosthetic Makeup, Visual Effects and Sound? AMC has become the HBO of basic cable with shows such as "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad." James should have received a nod for Best Guest Actor in a Drama. Several cast members, writers and directors should have earned Emmy recognition. Lincoln put heart and soul into a Shakespearean-like mad scene this season that played through several episodes. How about "The Walking Dead" as Best Drama, ok? The show isn't about zombies; it's about survivors. Metaphorically, it's about people who battle through the worst of times.

It takes a lot for me to become emotionally invested in a horror film/series, having seen hundreds since the 1970's, but this series has me on the edge of my seat nearly every episode. Can't wait for the start of season 4 now on AMC. My goodness, this 'Walking Dead' project is a genuine masterpiece on both a dramatic level and a horror/action level. But you guys already know that! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

Audio Commentaries on Episodes 4,5,8,9 and 15
Featurettes: Rising Son, Evil Eye, Gone, But Not Forgotten, Heart of a Warrior, Michonne vs. The Governor, Safety Behind Bars, Making The Dead and Guts and Glory
Deleted Scenes: Walk with Me, Say The Word, Hounded, Home, I Ain't No Judas and Clear.