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Breaking Bad: The Complete Series [Blu-ray + UltraViolet]
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Box Set: The incredible saga of high-school-chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White is here in its entirety: all 62 uncut, uncensored episodes! Emmy winner Bryan Cranston portrays Walter White, a family man who turns to crime after a lung cancer diagnosis unravels his simple life. Recruiting former student and small-time dealer Jesse Pinkman (Emmy winner Aaron Paul) to be his partner in crime, Walt rises to the top of the meth trade, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. But he can’t keep his dogged DEA agent brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) off his trail forever. Will Walt get away with it all, or die trying? With riveting performances by Anna Gunn, Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte and more, re-live every moment of this groundbreaking original series. Executive Produced by Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson and Michelle MacLaren, the complete box set is loaded with special features, including an exclusive feature-length d
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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.
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]
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.
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