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Sunday, November 29, 2015

'Fear the Walking Dead' BD: Z Nation Homage to L.A. Riots, Family Dysfunction, and Martial Law

Product Details
The strong element of family drama makes the Anchor Bay Entertainment December 1 2015 Blu-ray and DVD releases of the  first season of the 2015 AMC series "Fear the Walking Dead" surprisingly apt holiday presents. The accolades for this spin-off of "The Walking Dead" include the August 2015 premiere of this L.A.-set series being the number 1 show in cable television history.

Buying this show in Blu-ray is a no-brainer (no pun intended). The enhanced picture quality of this format awesomely highlights the feature-film cinematography of the series. This particularly comes through regarding a vivid image of a blood-soaked body bag.

The tie for nicest things about the six-episode S1 of "Fear" is between the series-long story arcs prompting memories of the broadcast network mini-series of the '70s and '80s and this season reflecting the "less-is-more" lesson of British television series. It additionally has more of a vibe of modern family-oriented disaster films such as "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" in which a flawed father seeks redemption by saving his clan against impending doom than a blood-and-gore horror series.

"Fear" centers around caring high school guidance counselor/widow/single mom Madison Clark and her late adolescent children Nick and Alicia. Johnny Deppish Nick is a semi-recovering addict with a long history of causing his family anguish. Alicia fits the contrasting stereotype of a good girl high achiever who is becoming increasingly tired of being a poster child for the American ideal.

Additional family drama comes in the form of Madison living with high school teacher Travis Manawa. The resentments of the ex-wife and son of Travis add fuel to the fire.

The "outsiders" are barber Daniel Salazar, his wife Griselda, and their feisty daughter Ofelia. This family comes into the picture on providing shelter during the early stages of rioting that comes on the heels of an assertive law-enforcement response to the outbreak of zombieitis in the city.

The initial police shooting that triggers (no pun intended) the protests and looting that comprise said riot both particularly ties "Fear" to the Rodney King era in Los Angeles and reflects our own sad time in which indications that race places a role in the police response to a perceived threat triggers (again, no pun intended) the same  type of violent response as "Fear" depicts.

All of this reflects the theory of suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, who effectively created terror by moving the threat from the haunted house on the outskirts of town into the split-level next door.

The spreads of the outbreak and the public opposition to the police response leads to establishing martial law. In typical television and feature-film style, the initial sense that the soldiers who are imposing order are doing a good thing deteriorates and leads to questioning their authority. One spoiler is that it turns out that these boys in green are from the federal government but are not here to help us.

Everything nicely comes to a head in the season finale. Our heroes directly confront both the soldiers and the zombies. The outcome reflects the modern practice of providing both a satisfying end to the series and a good starting point for a second season if the show receives one. In this case, fans will get a chance to see what happens when the second season premieres in (most likely the summer of) 2016.

The special features include films on both the characters and the series itself.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Fear" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.