The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season review

Five seasons in and this televised zombie apocalypse shows no signs of rot

After all this time you'd be forgiven for thinking that AMC's popular horror series would have run out of ways to variously excite and torture its fans. Well, you'd be dead wrong. This fifth season finds The Walking Dead at its best, pushing its characters (and audience) to the very limits of their endurance, before twisting everything around and offering the prospect of a real transformation for the show – one that would shift the focus of the drama away from mere survival and onto something much larger and more complex.

As with previous seasons, this latest batch of 16 episodes remains a TV tour de force, with every elated high our protagonists experience being counteracted by a devastating low (often the brutal, unexpected death of one of their own). While this could potentially prove wearying, superb performances across the board ensure that you stay invested in the characters and their travails – no matter how mad things get.

All told, The Walking Dead is one of the most compelling and emotionally resonant pieces of drama coming out of the US right now. The fact that it happens to be about a zombie apocalypse and is couched in the sort of bloody gore gags that used to get movies banned in the UK in the 1980s only makes it all the more special.

Picture: Shot mainly on 16mm film, The Walking Dead boasts a distinctively coarse and grainy aesthetic that is competently replicated by the run of AVC-encoded 1.78:1 Full HD presentations featured in this five-disc Blu-ray outing.

While this gritty approach suits the mood of the show perfectly, the downside is that fine object detail understandably takes a bit of a hit in mid- and long-shots. Thankfully, close-ups hold up better to scrutiny, revealing plenty of intricate texturing; you can revel in every cut, bruise and mark on the worn faces of the characters.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Ever wondered what it sounds like to be trapped in a revolving door with hordes of zombies surrounding you on all sides? Well, that's just the sort of thing The Walking Dead's DTS-HD MA 7.1 mixes do so very well. Engaging your entire speaker array to create a room-filling sense of depth, the show's sound design is aggressive and atmospheric. And if you're still wondering about that initial question: it sounds terrifying, frankly!
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: The are plenty of bonus features here for fans to sink their teeth into – starting with seven fun and insightful episode commentaries featuring various combinations of the show's cast and crew.

The hour-long The Making of The Walking Dead and 77-minute Inside The Walking Dead are assemblages of episode-specific mini-featurettes offering behind-the-scenes info and looking at the production of key sequences. There are also two additional featurettes about the creation of a key location and the practical zombie effects; tributes to fallen characters, two video diaries and 13 deleted scenes.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: Superb TV show. Superb Blu-ray boxset. What more do you need to know?

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season, Entertainment One, Region B BD, £50 Approx