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Blu-Ray Review: Fantastic AMC Show ‘Breaking Bad’

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CHICAGO – The Emmy-winning AMC series “Breaking Bad” may not be the cultural phenomenon that is the network’s “Mad Men” but it has just as loyal a following and a growing group of fans who are realizing that this drama is easily as good and arguably better. Scary, funny, dramatic, and honestly moving, “Breaking Bad” is remarkable television that pulls off that amazing trick of feeling both genuine and completely original at the same time. The first two seasons are now available on Blu-ray and should not be missed.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

What more reason do you need to check out “Breaking Bad” than this one: Bryan Cranston won the Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series for both of the first two seasons of the show (it also won Editing in both of its seasons and was nominated for Best Drama last year). The Emmys are certainly a questionable award show, but the fact is that Cranston beat wildly acclaimed work by Jon Hamm in “Mad Men,” Michael C. Hall in “Dexter,” Gabriel Byrne in “In Treatment,” Bill Paxton in “Big Love,” and many more. Watch just a couple episodes and you’ll easily see why. Make it to episode five of season one and you may wonder if he’ll keep winning as long as the show is on the air.

Breaking Bad: Season One was released on Blu-ray on March 16th, 2010.
Breaking Bad: Season One was released on Blu-ray on March 16th, 2010.
Photo credit: Sony Home Video

There’s a ten-minute sequence in episode five of season one (“Gray Matter”) that is simply one of the most remarkable scenes in the history of television. Walt White (Cranston) sits with his family, including his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), and emotionally argues about whether or not to die in peace or go through the pain of chemotherapy for the last year or two of his life. Every character interaction and emotional beat feels genuine.

Walter White has lived a good life and still been screwed by the myth of karma. He has believed that if was a good person and provided for his family then fate would provide for him but instead he ended up with a fatal dose of cancer. When he learns that his own body has handed him a death sentence, Walter realizes that he won’t be able to provide for the financial needs of his wife, son, and soon-to-be-born daughter. So Walt puts his chemistry knowledge to the test and becomes a meth dealer with one of his former students (the amazing Aaron Paul). Walt will do whatever it takes to make sure his family is safe and secure even after he’s gone.

Breaking Bad: Season Two was released on Blu-ray on March 16th, 2010.
Breaking Bad: Season Two was released on Blu-ray on March 16th, 2010.
Photo credit: Sony Home Video

The plot set-up for “Breaking Bad” might make it sound like a predictable show but it’s anything but. What’s most remarkable about the writing on the show is the way that creators Vince Gilligan and Mark Johnson maintain a consistent program and believable characters while also altering their tone in unbelievably unpredictable ways. “Breaking Bad” goes from family drama to nail-biting action to comedy and back again with amazing ease.

As for the cast, Cranston, Gunn, Paul, and the rest of the ensemble deliver in every single scene. There’s rarely a false moment or even one-line role that doesn’t feel right. Cranston may have won two Emmys already but Paul should have taken at least one and Gunn should be considered soon as well. “Mad Men” may have taken over the pop culture world but “Breaking Bad” isn’t far behind. This is easily one of the best shows on TV.

The 7-episode first season and 13-episode second season both look good-but-not-great in widescreen 1.78:1 transfers. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with the video on these sets, especially the first season, which features an unacceptable amount of grain. These episodes could have been remastered a bit more expertly. The audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

Special features on season one include:

o Cast and Crew Commentaries
o Deleted/Extended Scenes
o Making of Breaking Bad
o AMC Shootout - Interview with Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston
o Screen Tests
o Inside Breaking Bad
o Vince Gilligan’s Photo Gallery

Special features on season two include:

o Cast and Crew Commentaries
o Deleted Scenes
o Inside Breaking Bad - 13 Featurettes About The Making of Each Episode
o Season 1 Recap
o Walt’s Warning Featurette
o “Negro y Azul” Music Video
o “Better Call Saul” Commercial
o The Writers’ Lab - An Interactive Guide to the Elements of an Episode (Blu-ray Exclusive)
o 11 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
o Cop Talk with Dean Norris
o Gag Reel
o 6 Breaking Bad Original Webisodes
o Season 3 Sneak Peek
o Vince Gilligan’s Photo Gallery

‘Breaking Bad: Season One’ and ‘Breaking Bad: Season Two’ were released by Sony Home Video and star Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Aaron Paul, and Dean Norris. The show was created by Vince Gilligan. They were released on Blu-ray on March 16th, 2010. The show is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

GLENN SIMMONS's picture

Mark Johnson

I see you have not gotten any better from the time we played football at Douglas county with your dad as coach. Breaking Bab was the best show on TV till it ended After the army my skills were not needed its not like there ads for professional hired killers out there but o well best of luck to you miss the times we had at the GAMES

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