BLU-RAY REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season


THE SET-UP
The Clark family continues their violent journey through an apocalyptic world where the dead now rule. As they make their way from Mexico back to the United States border, however, they learn the dead are not their biggest enemy. Stars Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, and Alycia Debnam-Carey. 

Episodes included in the set are: #301 “Eye of the Beholder,” #302 “The New Frontier,” #303 “TEOTWAWKI,” #304 “100,” #305 “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame,” #306 “Red Dirt,” #307 “The Unveiling,” #308 “Children of Wrath,” #309 “Minotaur,” #310 “The Diviner,” #311 “La Serpiente,” #312 “Brother’s Keeper,” #313 “This Land is Your Land,” #314 “El Matadero,” #315 “Things Bad Begun,” and #316 “Sleigh Ride.”


THE DELIVERY
The much-heralded spinoff of the hit show “The Walking Dead” often finds itself being compared to the original, however unfair that might be. For such a unique genre niche as zombie TV shows, however, it is inevitable that “Fear” will forever be measured against the show that birthed it.

Unlike the original “Walking Dead,” which delivered one of the best first seasons ever for a TV drama, “Fear” stumbled out of the gate. While it delivered some fantastic thrills and visuals, it never fully realized its potential.

In season two, “Fear” took a significant step forward, expanding upon the apocalyptic world the characters inhabited, while developing the core characters enough that viewers began to care about what happened to them. Unlike the saintly Rick Grimes which anchored “The Walking Dead so completely, “Fear the Walking Dead” offered far more complicated characters, whose shortcomings made it difficult to sympathize with them.

Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis did an admirable job leading the “Fear” cast, but season three truly hit its stride in a narrative sense, making Dickens’ Madison Clark the focus of the show. As a mother determined to keep her family, Madison has easily become the most interesting character in the series. There’s plenty of “oh no she didn’t” moments in season three, and Dickens is able to pull it all off with some well-earned credibility.


After season two, which saw the locales vary from a seaside hotel to a hilltop refuge, season three continues to expand the apocalyptic world, moving to a survivalist ranch on the U.S./Mexican border. The Clark family finds itself among some questionable Americans whose paranoia prepared them for the zombie world, if only by accident. Things get complicated when a nearby Indian tribe wants the ranch for itself, and alliances find themselves tested.

Some of the characters also find themselves at a dam near Tijuana, which promises to be a water-producing haven for everyone. Of course, there are complications from a group who wants the water for themselves.

There were some problems in how some storylines played out. Not unlike the Carl “Stay in the House” Grimes that frustrated “Walking Dead” viewers in the early seasons of that show, both Nick and Alicia decide to take risks on their own at the most inopportune times. While it was necessary to move some subplots along, it was annoying to see the two not show more common sense during a zombie apocalypse. The characters were also the recipients of way-too-convenient rescues and and logic-testing deus ex machina. But hey, it’s the zombie apocalypse. It is forgiven….mostly.

What “Fear” gets right is what the original “Walking Dead” has forgotten - to keep a sense of uneasy urgency. No place feels fully comfortable, and threats abound at every turn. The constant fear of the living and the dead makes for a tense setting, something the original “Walking Dead” has finally come back to with the introduction of Negan. When it comes to feeling fresh and original, however, I give the edge to “Fear.”


Season three of “Fear the Walking Dead” sees the show really show its true potential, and it is an enjoyable, entertaining ride. Rather than becoming more confined and claustrophobic as the character arcs develop, season three takes on an epic feel, offering a larger backdrop the story can play out against. There is hope, a lot of loss (with some surprising deaths), and some defining moments. And a great cliffhanger ending.

VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer is solid, although it should be noted that the image is often given a grainy look to give it a bit more grit. This does affect the sharpness, but it evokes the right mood. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix sounds great, but it isn’t overly active.

SPECIAL FEATURES
The extras are pretty light for the set, offering only some deleted and extended scenes and audio commentaries. Strangely, we do not get any behind-the-scenes featurettes or looks at how makeup creates the zombies in the show.


The bonus features on the Blu-ray set include:

Deleted and Extended Scenes. Nine Deleted Scenes from all episodes are included on Disc 4. They include scenes from episodes “Eye of the Beholder” (Episode #301), “The New Frontier” (#302), “TEOTWAWKI” (#303), “100” (#304), “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” (#305), “The Unveiling” (#307), “La Serpiente” (#311), “This Land is Your Land” (#313), “El Matadero” (#314).

Audio Commentary. Participants include Co-creator and Executive Producer Dave Erickson, Co-Executive Producer Andrew Bernstein, writer Jami O’Brien, actress Kim Dickens, actor Colman Domingo, and actor Dayton Callie. Episodes with commentary are “Eye of the Beholder” (Episode #301), “Children of Wrath” (#308), and “Sleigh Ride” (#316).

Digital Copy. An Ultraviolet code, compatible with services like VUDU, which unlocks digital copies of the episodes, is included.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Learn to Love the Fear in Season Three
Season three of “Fear the Walking Dead” may be seen, in retrospect, as the point in which the show stepped out from the shadow of the show that birthed it. The characters stand on their own, the story takes a riveting, original turn, and the episodes are immensely entertaining. Video and audio are impressive, but bonus features are scant.


BLU-RAY SPECS
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Rating: Not rated
Running Time: 11 hours, 50 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: Nine Deleted Scenes, Three Audio Commentaries, Digital Copy.
Label: Lionsgate

To order Fear the Walking Dead on Blu-ray from Amazon, click here.




Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, Cinelinx.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at vic@victormedina.com.

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