Breaking Bad – The Complete First Season + The
Complete Second Season (2008 – 2009/Sony Blu-ray Sets)
B+ Sound: B+ Extras: B-/B Episodes: A-
Breaking Bad is all too good. I can say that it is hands down one of the
best dramas to ever appear on television.
The series is absolutely wonderful as it outdoes most modern films with
its incredible level of depth. Breaking
Bad lays it all out on the table from the very beginning to engage audiences on
one mans journey through life. Walter
White (two time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston) has been running through the
motions of life with no true purpose. He
is a high school chemistry teacher and a carwash cashier in Albuquerque, New Mexico
who has seemingly been content being a fly on the wall. Life throws a wrench in the works for Walter
White when he is suddenly diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Never having smoked a day in his life and
presumably done everything by the book, Walter is consumed by disbelief,
sadness, anger and a cavalcade of other emotions that have left him lost. The series is downright jaw dropping as we
join Walter in each twist and turn that life delivers. Breaking
Bad is a pleasant surprise for television as we are treated to a vibrant
and flavorful series that impresses more and more with each passing episode.
series quickly breaks out as in the first episode we experience a man
feverously driving through the desert in an RV in nothing but his underwear and
a gas mask. Not before long we find out
this man is Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
As the RV comes to a screeching halt (in a ditch none the less) we are left with 3 unconscious men in the
back, Walter White collapsing out the side and an RV covered in broken glass
and liquid. As Walter tried to regain
composure to the mystery situation at hand sirens are heard approaching in the
background; Walter quickly grabs a video camera to record one final message to
his family. After recording the message,
Walter readies himself with gun in hand as he seems ready for one final
showdown with the forces that are drawing nearer. The scene suddenly jumps ahead in time, only
to reveal the result of that initial confrontation later on. Essentially the events leading up to that gun
blazing moment are chronicled as described above, with honest, innocent Walter
discovering that he has incurable lung cancer.
His whole way of life is challenged and he is left wondering what will
happen to his wife, handicap son and unborn child once he is gone.
In a life
changing event, while doing a ride along with his brother-in-law and DEA hero
Hank (played by Dean Norris), Walter experiences the profitable side of crime
in the form of Crystal Meth. On the DEA
ride along Walt discovers that a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul),
is a Meth maker/dealer and Walt soon proposes that they go into business
together. Though hesitant at first Jesse
eventually agrees to partner up with Walt and not before long the two are
‘cooking’ (slang for making Meth) in a lab on wheels; the aforementioned
RV. Jesse’s street savvy demeanor
combined with Walt’s genius level chemistry knowledge makes the team up seem
all too perfect; but the too good to be true situation is just that. Not before long the drug-tastic duo find
themselves in over their as the world of Crystal Meth is much more complex and
dangerous than they had originally planned.
griping series takes us down the dark and dangerous rabbit hole of the drug
world. Walter set out to save his family
with his morally questionable endeavors, but in the end may instead be setting
himself up to lose it all. With his life
having passed him by as he played it safe, the dangers that drug production
have infused make him feel all too alive (whether he admits it or not).
Breaking Bad is startlingly excellent. I find myself screaming at the television as
I am on the edge of my seat. Each
episode is better than the last and always leaves you wanting more. Bryan Cranston is the heart and soul of the
series with Aaron Paul not far behind. Cranston’s performance is
consistently stunning and he deserves every bit of the praise he has gotten for
playing the complexly tatter and torn Walter White. The series is not simply about crime and
Meth, but rather tells the tale of a family that is on the edge as they deal
with life, death and everything in between.
Just as they ready themselves for a great loss the unpredictable nature
of life keeps them and us as an audience guessing. Just as wonderful as Cranston and Paul, the supporting cast are nothing
to dismiss either as they are vital to the series success.
love to reveal more, but in all honesty I would be giving away too much. Breaking
Bad is a series that not a single episode can be missed, as each and every
moment is crucial to its development.
Since this is a two season review I can at least say that the series
gets impressively better, but concurrently flows seamlessly between
episodes/seasons. Collectively it is one
huge tale with no end in site; and that is a good thing. If you have not gotten into Breaking Bad yet now is the time.
features for the first two seasons are amazingly well done, keeping inline with
many other Sony Blu-ray productions. The
picture on both seasons is presented in a 1.78 X 1; 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded
transfer that for the most part focuses on earth tones in the New Mexico
backdrop, but concurrently splashes the scene with bursts of saturated color
that grab the viewers’ attention.
Overall, the picture quality is excellent and handled well, with only
the brighter outdoor scenes demonstrating a bit too much grain; but with the
New Mexico atmosphere it is questionable whether this was a purposeful decision
or not. Whereas I mention the grain, the
pictures sharpness and detail pop and frame, though not always perfectly. The blacks are deep, inky and often utilized
for the darker moments the series emphasizes.
The sound is equally impressive in its 5.1 DTS Master Audio that knows
when to play it cool and when to come out with guns blazing. The dialogue is crisp and ambient noises are
plentiful as they give the series a nice level of atmosphere and depth. This coupled with excellent directionality
makes for a pleasurable audio experience.
The balanced picture and sound only make the series all the better and a
great reason to own these Blu-ray sets as they are a quality example of what TV
on Blu-ray should be.
extras on the First Season include
Commentaries; Deleted Scenes; AMC Shootout; Screen Tests; Inside Breaking Bad
featurette; Breaking Bad on AMC commercial.
The commentaries are on the Pilot episode and ‘Crazy Handful of Nothin,’
both of which are only mildly entertaining though they offer a fair bit of
‘television academia’ for those who like that kind of stuff. The deleted scenes add nothing much to the
series, but the featurette Inside
Breaking Bad is an impressive and in depth look at an even more impressive
series. As for High-Def extras, Breaking Bad Season One offers are not
as engaging as they offer a shorter behind the scenes promo and a photo gallery
that are collectively boring.
extras on the Second Season include
Audio Commentaries, which are better than the two offered on the First Season but are still a tad
chaotic though you can tell the cast/crew truly love their work and each
other. The deleted scenes remain
unimpressive, but once again a 46minute featurette on Inside Breaking Bad makes for a pleasurable experience as each
episode’s crucial elements are dissected and discussed. A second ‘Behind the Scenes’ featurette is
broken into 11 parts that explore how the series is put together from beginning
to end. Other features include a Gag Reel;
Better Call Saul Commercial; Cop Talk with Actor Dean Norris featurette; Walt’s
Warnings (viral marketing campaign); Webisodes; Photo Gallery. The only High Def extra here is Writers’ Lab featurette that shows how
the series writers break down Breaking
Bad onto flashcards to construct scenes in a logical manner.
end, I am overwhelmingly impressed with Breaking
Bad. It is one of the best series on television today and most definitely
one of the best television dramas of all time.
If you have been waiting for that one breakout series, Breaking Bad is it.
- Michael P. Dougherty II