The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 346 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Dunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte
Directed by: Adam Bernstein, Vince Gilligan
Music by: Dave Porter
Written by: Vince Gilligan
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 16, 2010
"The end justifies the extreme"
Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a down-on-his-luck chemistry teacher struggling to make ends meet for his wife (Anna Gunn) and physically challenged son (RJ Mitte). Everything changes when Walter receives a startling diagnosis: terminal lung cancer. With only a few years to live and nothing to lose, Walter uses his training as a chemist to cook and sell crystal meth with one of his former students (Aaron Paul). As his status grows, so do his lies, but Walt will stop at nothing to make sure his family is taken care of after he's gone, even if it means putting all their lives on the line.
Breaking Bad follows protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife (Anna Gunn) and teenage son (RJ Mitte) who has cerebral palsy. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to secure his family's financial security, White chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world. The series explores how a fatal diagnosis such as White's releases a typical man from the daily concerns and constraints of normal society and follows his transformation from mild family man to a kingpin of the drug trade.
Season One introduces us to Walter White, a devoted husband/father and chemistry teacher who could easily be described as a typical 50 year old nebbish floundering in the vast ocean that is his life. Rarely one to speak up or act out Walt quietly goes about his life working a second job at a local carwash to help support his pregnant (and nagging) thirty something wife Skyler and his handicapped teenage son Walter Jr. After collapsing at the carwash and being taken to the hospital Walt finds out that he has inoperable stage III lung cancer that leaves him with a best case scenario of two years to live. Unsure of what to do he keeps it from Skyler. During a family gathering his brother-in-law Hank, a DEA agent, is on the local news reporting the seizure of $700,000.00 in cash during the raid of a crystal methadone lab. Walt has an epiphany and questions Hank regarding the large sum seized. Hank tells him that it's typical but not the most money he has ever recovered. He offers to take Walt on a ride along for the next raid. Walt later calls him and accepts. During the raid, Walt waits in the car while the raid team secures the meth lab which is reportedly being run by a dealer that goes by the name of Captain Cook. As he sits in the car he sees and individual climbing out of the upstairs window of the house next door. Walt recognizes him to be Jesse Pinkman, a former student. Jesse sees Walt and takes off in his car, which has the license plate tag The Cap n. Walt puts two and two together but says nothing. He looks Jesse up and later goes to his house. Walt proposes to Jesse that with his lab and money seized by the Feds he should consider going into business with him, cooking and selling crystal meth. Jesse declines but Walt blackmails him with the threat of turning him in. Jesse and Walt purchase a used RV to use as a portable meth lab and Walt cooks up his first batch. Upon seeing the results Jesse calls Walt an artist as he has never seen such large and pure Meth crystals before. They decide that in order to move the drugs Jesse will connect with a dealer/distributor he knows. This opens to door to a world unlike any that Walt could have imagined. It leads to events that will forever change his life
The plethora of shows available on TV probably make it nearly impossible to track them all while searching for quality programming. I know there are many highly regarded shows that I simply never catch or in some cases never even hear of. Breaking bad is an example of the latter. Luckily writing reviews occasionally exposes me to great films and in this case TV programming that I haven't seen/heard of that turns out to be extremely rewarding. This is a compelling drama that is superbly conceived, capably executed and features one of the best derived and enacted characters I have seen in Walt White. Walt has to balance the two different worlds he inhabits and his struggle to keep them separate is integral to the storyline while providing us the opportunity to see and possibly understand his motivation. Watching as he and Jesse blunder their way in and out of the situations that arise from the confliction of living dual lives, borders on ridiculousness and occasionally hilarity. As they delve further into the twisted maze of criminal activity Walt discovers that his humanity may be at stake. He feels left with little choice but to adhere to the plan with the hope that he can persevere long enough to provide for his family after he is gone. The problem is that each step, each lie, moves him further toward an ostensibly unavoidable conflagration and further away from the stereotypically suburban husband/father he used to be. The real question is that if Walt COULD go back, would he want to?
I am hooked. This is top flight entertainment that leaves me eager to see what each episode brings. I have been a Bryan Cranston fan for years and I think that by far his portrayal of this character is his best work. His interplay with Aaron Paul's Jesse succeeds on multiple levels and makes for an excellent pairing that I find invigorates each episode. I look forward to checking out season 2 and the upcoming premiere of season 3 later this month. Season One's seven one hour episodes are spread out over two BD-50 Blu-ray Discs with the bulk of the bonus supplements contained on Disc 2.
This series contains graphic language, pervasive drug content, sexuality and thematic content that would make it inappropriate for younger audiences.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Breaking bad: The complete first season comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 15 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.
The 1.78:1 framed video has a granular texture that gives it a gritty edge that mates well with the show's theme. This isn't a glossy and noticeably vibrant presentation although many of the daytime exterior sequences exhibit a higher level of brightness and lucidity. Colors generally look natural but are rarely visually engaging. Fleshtones look great with plenty of subtle delineation and tonal warmth. Images are resolved well for the most part and offer excellent refinement during close ups. The sweeping vista views of the deserts don't have an infinite level of dimension and long range acuity but offer crisp definition and revealing textures. Blacks are deep but with a crushing effect in lower lit scenes that negatively impacts depth. Detail in shadows and uneven light is appreciable but the finest gradations are obscured. I noticed a few noisy backgrounds and some minor banding visible in the daylight sky during wide angle camera pans but saw no other overt signs of image degrading artifacts. Overall I found this video presentation to be satisfying and while not as strong as other Blu-ray encodes from Sony I think it looked fine. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, potent dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was impressed with its use of spacial dimension and directional cues to create a realistic and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show's music, and action based sequences to build tension and drive its thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.
- Episodes 1 - 4
- Audio commentary on Breaking bad (The pilot episode)
- (HD) 3 deleted scenes on Breaking bad (The pilot episode)
- BD-Live enabled
- Episode recap option
- Episodes 5 -7
- (HD) Making of Breaking Bad - 11 minutes
- Audio commentary on Crazy handful of nothin'
- (HD) 2 deleted scenes on Gray matter and 2 deleted scenes on A no rough stuff type deal
- AMC Shootout - Interview with Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston - 16 minutes
- Screen tests - Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Besty Brandt, Dean Norris
- Inside Breaking Bad - A series of short segments totaling 31 minutes:
- Walt and Jesse's finest moments
- Finding comedy
- The talking pillow
- Walt goes bald
- The gore
- Breaking bad's meth lab
- The DEA
- Acting with cerebral palsy
- The underwear
- The RV
- Turning the tables
- Ken loses
- What's in a name?
- A-no-rough-stuff-type deal
- (HD) Vince Gilligan's photo gallery
- Breaking bad on AMC - 1 minute advertisement
- Episode recap option
Breaking Bad is an indelible and brilliantly executed TV drama that follows protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife (Anna Gunn) and teenage son (RJ Mitte) who has cerebral palsy. White is diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness, and a fervent desire to secure his family's financial future, White chooses to enter the dangerous world of drugs and crime. Season one introduces us to Walt and those that inhabit his world on both sides while revealing the events that begin his plummet into the abyss of ruthlessness, mayhem, and drug dealing. Not to be missed this is compelling and top flight TV entertainment that left me eager to see what would happen from one episode to the next. It comes to high definition Blu-ray from Sony in a respectable package that features good overall video quality, admirable lossless sound and a thorough compliment of bonus supplements that augment the show. I am now a fan and look forward to checking out season 2 (also available on Blu-ray) and the upcoming premiere of season 3 later this month. Highly recommended!
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