When I was a kid, the only sign that Summer was coming to an end was the Canadian National Exhibition opening it’s gates for a couple weeks of rides, food and fun. These days, I can gauge the end of summer by the release of AMC’s most successful show, The Walking Dead, coming to DVD and Blu-ray. Pretty soon it’ll be time to send the kids back to school and get ready for Fall. But with Fall brings us a new season of The Walking Dead, so I’m not complaining. In the meantime, I can revisit The Complete Third Season of this awesome series and ponder what Season 4 may bring us. And unlike previous seasons, this is the first where my anticipation is at it’s boiling point as Season 3 was a thrilling ride of great characters and fantastic action. With twists and turns that even some diehard fans of the comic didn’t see coming, The Walking Dead proved to be one of the most interesting dramas about the human condition on television. And it also features Zombies, so that’s always a plus.

Season 3 of The Walking Dead covered a great deal of ground in the 16 episodes that aired in the Fall of 2012 and the Winter of 2013. At the end of Season 2, many elements and plot points were teased and as the 3rd season began, they were presented to us right away. Michonne, a fan favourite character, made her debut and the Prison, another popular element from the comic, became one of the two main set pieces for the duration. Introductions of the Governor and his false “safe haven” known as Woodbury would soon follow. We also saw the return of Merle Dixon (played by the one and only Michael Rooker) brandishing a blade where his hand once was. At the start of the season, we get to see these two locations (the Prison and Woodbury) and how the establishment and beliefs of these two separate groups is very different. Andrea, who finds herself in Woodbury after she and Michonne are taken in by the Governor and his crew, is the only person who strives to bring these two factions together. And they do indeed come together, just not in the way she would’ve hoped. Along the way Tyreese, another big player from the comic series, is introduced and while not a major contributor to the second half of the season, his presence is felt and it’s obvious that more will done with his character in Season 4. Now with all of these new characters and plots being introduced, the writing was on the wall that some of the older cast would find themselves on the bloody end of the stick. It is a show about zombies after all. Somebody’s bound to die. What was great is that like the comic book, the writers pulled no punches and made some tough decision about which characters would have to say goodbye. Thankfully, the right choices were made and the deaths had meaning. What ended up happening was that we got the show we wanted two seasons ago. It was all building towards something and paid off beautifully with this season.

Michonne – The Baddest Bad-Ass on TV.

The character choices that were made really helped establish the power struggle between Rick and The Governor that fueled the back half of the season. In the comic, The Governor is presented as a fully formed character. He’s the epitome of evil. In the television series, we got to see more of the journey that leads to how he became the man that he is. By the end of the season, The Governor is where he needs to be. On the flip side, Michonne is presented as the character we all know and love. Everything that’s made Michonne who she is shown through subtle looks and gestures. Less is more with her and this is what makes her one of the most compelling characters on the show. The performances by David Morrissey and Danai Gurira are the highlights of the season without a doubt. Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Steven Yeun and the aforementioned Michael Rooker also provide a strong showing in the acting department. The most surprising performance would have to come from Chandler Riggs as Carl. This was the season where Carl grew up and went from being a liability to an asset for the group. Overall, great acting being backed up by great story choices made this the show to watch this past year.

Is that Nick Fury? Oh, no, it’s just the Governor

What I also admired was the ability to raise the stakes on a regular basis. My major complaint with Season 2 wasn’t that nothing was happening. It was that it “felt” like nothing was happening. I know that Season 2 took the time to build the characters up but it didn’t do much else. That farm felt more like a prison than the prison did. Now in Season 3, they were able to make the show feel less stagnant by always ratcheting up the tension and putting the characters in the most uncomfortable of circumstances. Sure, they stayed at the Prison all year. So what? By giving them an antagonist to deal with, they gave them something besides the walkers to focus on. It was also nice to finally have a true villain instead of just mindless monsters. There was a place for both in Season 3 and that made it all the more enjoyable.

As far as special features go, this collection felt a little light. I know I gave them a pass last year for just having some AMC-produced featurettes and a hand full of commentaries but I think with more episodes and more content to work with, they really could’ve provided more for this release. But hey, if you’re just interested in the show, you will definitely by happy with the collection overall.

As usual, The Complete Third Season of The Walking Dead looks great and is worth your money. The Season came out today on Blu-ray and DVD so if you want to watch it again before Season 4 starts up on October 13th, now’s your chance. Go out there and get your Walker on!

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

This show’s so great, you even care about what happens to slimy bastards like Merle Dixon.