The "Breaking Bad" Complete Series collection is a must own for fans of the show. If you've always watched the show or if you've just discovered it recently, then you know how great it is. If you've never seen "Breaking Bad", then I encourage you to give it a chance. Rarely has a show had this much universal acclaim (a 9.4 on IMDb, a 99/100 on Metacritic, 3 Emmy wins for Drama Actor and 4 Nominations for Best Drama Series, etc). [Note: If you want to sample the show, the entire series is streaming on Netflix at the time of this review].
This complete series blu-ray set features the same disc content as the now out-of-print "money barrel set" that was released last year. It contains every episode of the show as well as the special bonus disc only available in the Complete Series sets. So for those that missed out on the barrel set or just wanted simpler packaging, this new product is the perfect option. [edit: the money barrel set has also been reissued and is once again available for purchase].
LIST OF SPECIAL FEATURES
- No Half Measures: Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad - An all-new, exclusive two hour documentary that chronicles the filming of the final eight episodes.
- Bad Memories - Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul talk about the show ending and some of their favorite moments.
- Bryan Cranston: Director - Go on set with Bryan Cranston as he directs the first episode of the season entitled "Blood Money."
- Scene Envy - The Cast tell us which scene they wish they could have been in.
- Shocking Moments - The stars reveal the moments that shocked them most.
- From Walt to Heisenberg - From high school teacher to deadly meth dealer, watch as Walter White quickly transforms into Heisenberg.
- How Will It End? - At the beginning of the season, the cast was asked to give their thoughts on how they thought the show would end.
- Avenging Agent: Dean Norris as Hank Schrader - A look at the character Hank Schrader and the man who played him, Dean Norris.
- Scene Stealer: Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader - A look at the character Marie Schrader and the woman who plays her, Betsy Brandt.
- A Criminal Attorney: Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman -A look at the character Saul Goodman and the man who played him, Bob Odenkirk.
- Jesse's Journey: Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman - A look at the character Jesse Pinkman and the man who played him, Aaron Paul.
- Skyler Breaks Bad: Anna Gunn on Season Four - Actress Anna Gunn and series creator Vince Gilligan explore Skyler's character evolution through the fourth season.
- Growing Up in the White House: RJ Mitte on Walter, Jr. - RJ Mitte, Anna Gunn, Bryan Cranston and series creator Vince Gilligan discuss the extraordinary dynamics of the White family, and Walter, Jr.'s unique role.
- The Ultimate Chess Match - Members of the cast and crew discuss Walter White and Gus Fring's extraordinary and complicated battle of wits and their struggle for Jesse's allegiance.
- Looking Back: A Season Four Retrospective - Season Four's most surprising and memorable moments.
- Ted's Wipeout - In Episode 411, "Crawl Space," Ted Beneke suffers a head injury while trying to escape from Saul's goons. In this featurette, Christopher Cousins (Ted) explains how this shocking stunt was accomplished.
- The Truck Attack Storyboard Comparison - A side-by-side comparison of the Los Pollos Hermanos truck attack and the brilliant shot-by-shot storyboards that were created for the episode "Bullet Points."
- Walt and the Challenger Storyboard Comparison - A side-by-side comparison of the sequence where Walt indulges in some crazy stunt driving in Walt Jr.'s Dodge Challenger and the storyboards that were created.
[Note: Below is my original spoiler-free review for the show.]
If ever a character personified the dichotomy of good and evil, it's Walter White. I don't watch too much TV, but I do believe this is the most interesting television character I've ever seen. In the first episode, Walt learns that he has terminal lung cancer. Therefore, he must - no, he decides to - cook crystal meth and leave behind a large sum of money for his family. So while being a meth cook is illegal and perhaps immoral, Walt's ultimate intentions are good... at least that's his point of view.
Make no mistake, Mr. White is a bad guy - if you saw him in real life or read about him in the paper, you would absolutely say he should go to prison (or worse) without hesitating. But through the medium of television and the 50+ hour journey we've taken with the character, there are still moments where the audience can identify and sympathize with him. Despite all the despicable actions he has done and all the deception of those around him, I often still find myself rooting for Walt. I think this is due to the intelligent writing on the show as well as the amazing performance given by Bryan Cranston. I'm confident you will find this character as interesting as I do.
There are two main types of narratives in TV. There's the plot-driven shows, where things move fast and there are mysteries to be solved - a lot of the enjoyment rides on the twists and turns in the story. Then there's the character-driven shows, that move more slowly - the characters are more realistic and well-rounded. "Breaking Bad" is a perfect example of how to simultaneously execute both types of storytelling - the interests of both plot and character coexist peacefully. The pacing is just right. There are many plot twists and surprises, but none of them render the show unrealistic. And above all, you care about the characters and find them fascinating. This series also plays with tension and conflict in a way that is rarely achieved in TV or film.
If you think of yourself as a "movie person" more than a TV person, then this is your show. The production value rivals that of your average Hollywood feature film. The fact that the directors achieve this with only a fraction of the budget of a Hollywood movie makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. In particular, I would like to single out the cinematography of the show - the camera work on display is near perfect, especially the time-lapse and POV shots.
Now at first glance, the story of a dying man with cancer, cooking meth, and depictions of drug use may sound unappealing and even offensive to some people on it's surface. But I'm confident that once you see the show you will understand how much more there is to the story and the characters, and drugs are never glorified. "Breaking Bad" is the type of show that my mother would hate on paper... but then she gives it a chance and winds up getting hooked!
So if you've never seen the show, hopefully I convinced you to give it a chance. And if you're already fan of the show, now's the perfect time to watch it again - I've seen each episode a minimum of 3 times. I hope I shared what I think makes "Breaking Bad" special.
on November 26, 2013
This is a review of the Blu-ray set, not the show. If you are considering buying this, you probably already know how awesome it is (very), and if you don't, there are many reviews that will tell you all you need to know. I haven't looked at the special features, and don't plan to until I finish the final season, so there isn't really much I can say about that. This is a review of what you physically get in the box. Too many times I have purchased box sets and collectors editions, things that are meant to be nice and last, only to encounter peeling cardboard, cheap materials and silly designs. Not here.
The barrel is about a foot tall and six inches across, making it a pretty significant object as far as movie cases go. It has enough presence that you could display it on it's own, but fortunately it's not too imposing that it forces you to. The two "ribs" on the barrel have a flat spot by the hinges to allow to the door to open, and it and the hinges double as a kind of foot that allows you to turn it on it's side, and put it on the shelf with your other movies with the BrBa logo facing out. Slick little piece of design right there. When on it's side its about an inch shorter than a regular Blu-ray case.
The first thing you'll notice when you pick it up is that it's heavy, which is nice, heavy things have a feeling of quality that light things just don't. It's made of high quality matt plastic, except for the lid, which is glossy. Everything that makes it look like a case is very discreet, the door opens with a little notch that is just big enough that you don't actually need to use a fingernail, but still very small, as are the hinges. Unless you look closely, it really does look like a little barrel, not a case that looks like a little barrel.
The top pulls off, revealing the special features disk held on to the underside of it with a nice pop button tray, and a little compartment that has the apron and the coin. It fits very very snugly, which is a good thing, as it allows you to pick up the whole thing by the lid without it coming off. The coin is very heavy and the design is very crisp and nicely done, but I don't really understand what I'm supposed to do with it, or even what it's supposed to be (it seems like a take on a sobriety coin, but it doesn't have a number on it) The apron comes sealed in a package the size of a doughnut, with money patterned cardboard that you can leave in the bottom of the compartment. I just unpacked it and haven't had a chance to wash it or anything yet, so it is extremely wrinkly, but I did try it on. I knew it was going to be fairly thin, as every textile item that has come with a collectors edition that I've purchased has been, but my hope was that it would be actually usable as an apron, not just a novelty, and it has clearly been designed with just that in mind. It's thin, but really not that bad at all, considering how small of a package it comes in, and more importantly the Los Pollos y Hermanos logo on the front has a rubbery quality to it, and can clearly take some wear and tear. It is crisp and the colors are bright. I wish it was a little longer (it's torso only), but given that it is fast food themed I can dig it. It has three pockets in the front.
So to summarize on the extras: really nice. It would have been cool to have had more, but what is there is actually substantial (albeit a little baffling in the case of the coin) and stands on it's own, not like a lot of the shoddy "goodies" that come with collectors editions.
So thats the top compartment, now down to the disks. The door is held together with a secure magnet, and swings nice and smooth on the hinges. In the door are the booklet and the digital download slip. The discs are where things get really cool though. It seems like designers have been struggling to come up with a method of holding a lot of disks that is classier and more compact than your standard pop-button setup, but still user friendly (my Alien and Star Wars sets use cardboard sleeves, which look really nice but it can be a huge pain to get the disks out.) The disks here are in plastic trays that stack on top of each other, but don't have any sort of nestling or anything, they are all stuck together with magnets, just like the one on the door. It can be a little tricky to get them apart at first, but when you get the twist down its a piece of cake. They don't have buttons, the disks are held in by the tray above it, which gives it a cleaner look. The plastic is really nice, not the thin squeaky shattery stuff most disk trays are made of. This is some heavy duty acrylic or something. And it's nice and thick. Each season stack has a good heft to it on its own. Each season has a simple graphic of a significant yet spoiler-free object (the pink teddy bear for season two, for example) spread across the different trays for each of its disks, with the outline on one, shading on another, highlights on another, ect, so that if you take all the disks out and put the season stack back together they will line up (the magnets are set around the edge at irregular intervals so it will only go together the one way) and make the graphic. Nice. Each season stack fits very snugly in its slot, with no wiggling at all. You can pack it all up and shake the barrel and nothing will shift or rattle (assuming there is nothing in the top, obviously).
The magnets for me are the best part, not only because they work so well, but because they are a sign of respect toward me as a consumer. When they designed this they clearly weren't thinking about what would be easiest to make, or use the least materials, they were thinking about what would be the easiest to use, and the nicest to use. Even the above mentioned Star Wars and Alien sets, which are relatively awesome compared to most, are still essentially just paper. This is an object. It has substance, and understands that it's worth it to go the extra mile for something like the magnets that seems like overkill, but only when you think about it relative to other disk packages, which are made to be cheap and efficient. Keeping that in mind it becomes clear that this is a very reasonable and elegant solution, it just happens to require materials that are above the bare minimum.
To sum things up: If you love Breaking Bad but are on the fence about dropping this much money, don't be. This is not just a "case" in the sense that the show is the main attraction and all it is is a place to put the disks when you're not using them; you can enjoy this even when you're not watching the show. There are no nasty glue patches, there are no peely sleeves that you can barely even use for fear of pulling them apart. This is a nice, quality product that will stay nice for a long time if you take care of it, and will probably stay nice for a long time even if you don't.
This is the kind of package a show like Breaking Bad deserves.
[Edit: Someone in the comments pointed out that there is a video introduction where Vince Gilligan explains the coin. As I said above I'm staying away from any sort of special features until I've actually finished the show, but apparently it does have a purpose, and it's awesome, which I don't doubt in the least.
While I can't speak for the rest of it, I can now tell you that the A/V quality on S4E12 is excellent, one of the better Blu-ray transfers I've seen/heard, so presumably the rest of it is up to the same snuff]
on November 9, 2015
Rating is for the quality of the show, but you probably don't need me to tell you whether to watch Breaking Bad. I just wanted to write about the packaging of the complete series Blu-ray set (the non-barrel version). It's pockets style, which the discs slide into. Which I don't like. I couldn't really handle the individual season sleeves without the discs sliding around or falling out. Also, many of the Blu-ray discs are a scuffed up, I assume because of this packaging style. It doesn't seem to affect the discs being read/played fortunately, but I've repackaged the discs into a couple 10 disc holders that I purchased a while back.
Just something to keep in mind if you're deciding between the full series set and the individual season releases.
My copy did come with Ultraviolet codes for the complete series that are playable on Vudu along with some other sites I believe.
on May 21, 2014
This is EXACTLY what I've been waiting for -- a no-frills, simple edition of the entire series in a slipcase, to fit comfortably on my shelf with my other box sets. I needn't review the series here, as anyone who's seen BrBa knows that it's the zenith of episodic television. This box set simply brings it all home.
I bought this at Costco for $93.99. As is well known this is an EXCELLENT series. But buyers of the DVD complete series be aware that there are NO ENGLISH SUBTITLES. So why am I griping about the lack of English subtitles? Because beginning in the third year of the series much of the dialog is whispered and is VERY difficult to discern. This is doubly true with regards to the Skylar character. My review is for the DVD set NOT the Blu-Ray set. I am told the Blu-Ray has English subtitles.
This is a ten star series but the oversight of not having English subtitles devalues the production significantly. If I had to do it over I would cough up the extra $35 and get the Blu-Ray set. Buyer beware!
UPDATE: One reader inquired if I had turned the Subtitle function on which reminded me to include the following in my review above. English is listed as one of the languages available for subtitles along with Spanish and French. I activated it all to no avail.
Therefore, if any reader has this DVD set and IS ABLE to use the English subtitle function please let me know so that I have a legitimate reason to return this set as being defective. Thanks.
on September 30, 2014
These are hybrid DVDs and unless you have a pretty new player and its' software is updated or they will not play or they play after a few minutes spinning in the player. It took me several tries to get these to play because of my not knowing that the Sony player had to be switched from "standard dvd" to "hybrid BD" and then it played, but still took a minute or two to start with the menu. Some commands still don't work with my 3 year old Sony Blue Ray player, I haven't figured that out yet. I don't know if the whole series that I have will play from start to finish yet, and I don't know if it'll be the BD disks or the Sony player . . . The series is fantastic, but the product is marginal, I've never had problems with any Blue Ray disks other than these ones.
on December 18, 2013
I was able to purchase this set 12/13 (a friday) with two day shipping. Once I saw it available, I didn't hesitate to purchase it and i'm glad I didn't. Within 10 minutes of placing the order on amazon, it was sold out again. It arrived the following Tuesday in excellent packaging, which was one thing I was worrying about seeing how a lot of other reviewers have had that problem. Mine was adequately packed with air packs. One side of the box was heavily air packed, the bottom side had quite a bit, the sides and the top also had an excellent amount. I didn't hear any rattling when I picked up the box, which was a good sign. This thing wasn't able to move during shipping, they did a great job with mine. I'm sorry to hear that so many others are having problems with that because this set is phenomenal. I don't think it's fair to rate the set low because of Amazons poor packaging methods that others have experienced, even though I completely understand the frustration from not only buying it for being a fan of the show/set (or giving it as a gift) but also the standard retail price being a good chunk of change (I paid 201 for mine). It's not the sets fault Amazon can't pack properly on those unfortunate orders, don't ding the product itself. Also, if you think you have blank discs, please make sure you know the difference between DVD players and Blu Ray Players, and that you're certain you put these discs in a Blu Ray player. Having worked retail in the past, I can't tell you how many people still don't understand why a BD won't play in a DVD player.
Now to the set. I've broken this down into sections, so if you're still reading this, feel free to skim it for the pertinent information you're looking for.
The Outer Container:
I see what others are talking about in regards to the rubber cement, the outside plastic that contained the barrel had a lid that was sealed with a rubber-cement like adhesive. I tried to be as careful as I could to take mine off, but it was really on there and required some force to get it off, so I fractured/tore the plastic top to it, which is no big deal since it is the outside case after all. Most people seemed to have thrown it away, I saved mine for the purpose of being a dust protector. Plus, it looks pretty nice in that plastic container with the rest of my collector sets.
The design is based off the money barrels that appear in 5B, which I think is wholly appropriate. When I first unboxed the barrel, I didn't really know what to expect. I feared that I would have some missing discs, duplicate discs, or other missing parts to the set. I'm happy to report that everything is intact and just as described. The door is held by two hinges and is held shut by a small magnet and friction. Theres a small indention where the door shuts that's plenty big to grip it to open the door. The first thing I checked was the disc sets and the disc numbers, which were all where they should be. The barrel is very well constructed, it has a nice weight to it and feels rather durable. To me, it doesn't feel like cheap plastic because of how solid it feels. It has a nice BrBa logo on the door and I like it because it's pretty subtle, yet matches the theme of the set. I was surprised by the size of the barrel dimensions, as it was larger than I expected and a lot nicer than some other sets I have purchased in the past. It is probably the largest box set any one will own, as I can't think of many off the top of my head that come close to the size and bulk of this thing. This isn't a problem for me, but it could be for some. Though, I wouldn't let this be a deterrent from purchasing this thing if you planned on it anyways.
This is one of the most ingenious designs I've seen for holding discs and it's such an elegant solution and clever alternative to the flimsy cardboard/paper sleeves some sets have. The discs are stored in between acrylic trays that attach through a Y shape form of small magnets (which haven't been a problem for me as some reported magnets coming off almost instantly). These trays all slide into their corresponding slot inside the barrel, where it's actually vertically marked on the right side above each slot, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and F. The discs are all nestled nice and safely in a tray that has a dip that's just the right size to keep the disc in place. As many have seen already, when discs are removed from these trays, the trays can be stacked to form a design specific to the seasons (I.E. S2 trays form the pink teddy bear). On top of this, the design on the discs compliment the trays, like S2 discs being a background of the swimming pool (pink teddy bear + swimming pool). Each season trays and discs all have their specific themes and I absolutely love it. It was a lot of fun assembling it myself to see how each season trays and discs would look like when the trays are placed on top of the disc. It's the small details like these that truly impressed me with this set. You could tell a lot of love and thought went into it's creation.
The Digital Codes and 16 page booklet:
I assumed that when it says "Digital copy of the show" that it meant all seasons, but I couldn't find confirmation on that, though I didn't look very hard for it either. I can confirm that the UV codes are indeed for all seasons. There are actually 2 codes on one slip of paper. One code is for seasons 1-3 and the second code is for 4-5B. These are redeemable through the Sony site and the seasons show up wherever you have a UV account linked (Like Vudu). I didn't have any problems accessing the show online, so it's possible that the problems others were having with the codes have been fixed through Sony by now. In front of the UV codes paper, lies the booklet with the letter written by Vince Gilligan to the fans. I must say it was quite an endearing letter, it was humorous, bittersweet, and came across as a truly genuine dedication. Further into the booklet, it includes episode titles for each respective season, cover art/artwork for each respective season, and also lists all the bonus content respective to each season. It serves as a well designed "table of contents" or "index". It's a fitting booklet and compliments the set nicely.
The bonus items/content:
Once you pop the lid off, which is firmly held in, there's a disc stored by a push button that has the backwards POV coordinates from 5B underneath. This is the two hour documentary. In the barrel itself, you'll see a small money design. This is the Los Pollos Hermanos apron that is vacuum packed with both sides being these cardboard money design inserts. I haven't unwrapped mine yet, so I can't comment on the design or the materials. Underneath this, is the Challenge Coin that Vince talks about in his "unboxing" video, which I think is a really awesome tribute to fans, to include them into something that use to be a cast and crew only thing. Vince can explain it better than I can, so it's worth watching his video. It's made of a heavy material, beautifully painted, and a really neat design. This also has some weight to it and doesn't feel like a cheap token for the sake of having bonus objects to pad this set. I think it's another nice inclusion from Vince to the fans and a worthy item to be placed in this set.
- Packed efficiently
- Weird rubber cement on outer container lid
- Solid feeling and fitting barrel design
- Creatively designed discs and season themed disc trays
- Digital codes for all seasons and awesome booklet
- Awesome bonus items: 2 hour documentary, challenge coin, and apron
All in all, this set is worth the MSRP. It's a nice set that pays tribute to the fans who will buy this set and there's plenty of bonus content to keep you occupied. It's a fun set. Shame on all the third party price gaugers for unfarily pricing it though. If you can get your hands on it for it's normal retail price, it's worth every penny.
This Breaking Bad box set is a worthy release to house what is one of the best shows of all time to ever grace Television.
on February 5, 2015
An advisory, not a review: No English SDH subtitles!
This is not a review per se - just an advisory to all those who, like me, are hard of hearing and depend on SDH captioning when watching video anything. If you can read Spanish, French, or Portuguese, you're in luck with this excellent boxed set, but if you want English subtitles, you'll have to go to Netflix to watch this series with English captioning.
on November 8, 2014
Watch out for Sony Home Entertainment quality control. Set contained 4 defective disks in seasons 4, 5 and 6. Nothing like Walt confronting Skyler and then losing the audio and watching the picture crumble to pieces. With the intensity and quality of this production, things like this should NEVER happen. It ruins the whole experience.
on December 16, 2015
The show is amazing and deserves 5 stars. I am basing this review on the box. It just came in today and I was really surprised. It was damaged. The whole set is made out of cardboard so I knew eventually there will be wear and tear; however I expected it to be in perfect condition when I received it.