Breaking Bad-Complete Third Season (2010)

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Released 24-Nov-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Drama Series Main Menu Audio & Animation-Live action plus music from series.
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Inside Breaking Bad (65:55)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Mini Video Podcasts (69:46)
Deleted Scenes-(21:14) 12 sort scenes
Unseen Footage-(3:32) Alternate angles for truck explosion.
Featurette-(11:59) Mock TV ads "Better Call Saul".
Featurette-(4:04) S.C.I.E.N.C.E. : Mock animated mini movie.
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(2:34) Walt's Car
Interviews-Cast-7:45 : Male co-stars answer viewers questions.
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(3:01) The Cast of Season Three
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(3:34) A.M.C.Visits Breaking Bad's Writers' Room
Audio Commentary-On five episodes with cast and crew.
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 589:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:21)
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Adam Bernstein
Bryan Cranston
Terry McDonough
Studio
Distributor
Sony Pictures TV
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Bryan Cranston
Aaron Paul
Anna Gunn
RJ Mitte
Dean Norris
Betsy Brandt
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Dave Porter


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, When in character.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action pre stock opening.

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Plot Synopsis

     At the 2010 Emmy Awards both male stars of Breaking Bad won in their respective categories, Bryan Cranston, winning as Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Walter White (he had also won in 2009) but it was the first Emmy for young actor Aaron Paul for his performance as Jesse Pinkman, Walter's accomplice in crime. Both Paul's award as Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and Bryan Cranston's were well deserved, as there is nothing better in dramatic television than the performances of these two men in this spellbindingly gripping series. Sony has recently released Season Three of Breaking Bad in Australia, ahead of its U.S. release. Hopefully this is an indication of the popularity of this series in Australia.

     From the outset Breaking Bad seemed doomed to one, or maybe two at the most, seasons on the air. How long could such a premise be sustained? Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a dedicated and brilliant chemistry teacher, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Walt has a sincere and dedicated wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn) and a physically challenged teenage son, Walt Jr (RJ Mitte). Their struggling financial state means that medical treatment for Walter is out of their reach. To pay for his treatment, and to create a nest egg for his family once he has "gone", Walter begins "cooking" and selling crystal meth assisted by one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). As their enterprise flourishes Walt's web of deceit and criminal involvement becomes increasingly complicated. Woven into the web are Skyler's sister, Marie (Betsy Brandt), and her husband DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris).

     Season Two of Breaking Bad ended with a climax like no other I have ever seen in a television series. The scripts for that entire season had been beautifully crafted, with persistent nagging questions all answered in one explosive - literally and figuratively - event in the final scene. Season Three picks up from this sensational conclusion and instantly has us asking questions once again as we are presented with the spectacle of the crawling desert worshippers. Events from Season Two have left Walt and Jesse estranged, and we are four episodes in before these two actors share a scene together. It is these two characters who propel this series and the two leads could not be bettered. Aaron Paul has some magnificent moments as he struggles to deal with the Season Two death of his lover, and his relationship to Walt, not knowing that it was Walt who was directly responsible for her death. This is a young actor with a big future. The series however ultimately depends on our acceptance of Walt as a protagonist and Bryan Cranston delivers a performance that is astonishingly unsentimental yet carries the audience with him on his terrible journey. Cranston, who was so incredibly funny as the father of Malcolm in the Middle, here is so comedically black and bleak as to be quite unrecognizable. His is a towering accomplishment. Walt is unravelling before our eyes as his life of duplicity threatens to destroy the family he is so desperately trying to protect. All events derive from these characters as they develop, shift and adjust to their circumstances. Actually, all performances are flawless. More and more I am convinced that the two primary ingredients of the excellent series we have on TV today are good writing and spot-on casting. All of the actors here are beyond convincing. Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt and RJ Mitte are superb. The minor roles in this season are also performed flawlessly. There is the serenely sinister "Mr Fring" (Giancarlo Esposito), the shyster lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and Skyler's weakly handsome boss, Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). Then we have "the cousins". Superbly costumed, photographed, and choreographed within the camera's frame, Luis Moncada (Fast and Furious) and his brother Daniel Moncada create two of the most memorable angels of death in recent memory. There is an operatic tone to their every appearance, the symmetry and order of their screen presence holding the threat of the chaos that they may unleash at any moment.

     There is an excitement and energy to Breaking Bad, beginning with the writing, direction and performances, but also extending to the photography and sound design. Technically Breaking Bad is magnificent. I am not a lover of hand-held wobbles, but here the "Dogme" affectation is balanced with more controlled sequences, which possibly does give some point to the "realism" of the shaky sequences. Note the beattifully controlled photography in the symmetry of the scenes involving the "cousins". Indeed, the cinematography of Michael Slovis is generally superb. Beautifully composed images abound, with stunning still images as well as time lapse sequences that are quite breathtaking. Also outstanding is the sound design, with extensive use of the surround capabilities of a system and exciting reproduction of Dave Porter's score. Porter uses a mix of Latin flavours, jazz, electric and solo piano to great effect.

     Once again the creators of the series have left a cliff-hanger which leaves us begging for next season's answers. Will Walt escape paying for his life of anti-social and immoral activities? Perhaps it is a measure of the times in which we live that the two outstanding "heroes" at present on TV are a maker of illegal drugs and a mass murderer. Will Dexter and Walt face their respective retributions? I, for one, hope not - and what does that say about me? However, I fear that Walt's end is, as I type, in the minds of Breaking Bad's creator Vince Gilligan and his writers. I fear for what they have in store for Walt and his family, but I can't wait to find out. Just don't let it happen too soon.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     I am fortunate enough to have in my Blu-ray library Season Two of Breaking Bad which looks sensational. Nevertheless, this standard DVD presentation is of a remarkably high standard. The image is presented at the original ratio of 1.78:1, in a 16x9 transfer.

     Filmed on 35mm film, all filtering of colour is achieved in the camera rather than in the laboratory. Director of Photography Michael Slovis is unquestionably an artist with the camera, his images both creative and exciting. The palette chosen for the desert sequences is strongly orange, with most of Jesse's sequences tinged with blue. The remainder of the scenes are in brilliant colour embracing the full spectrum, and with excellent skin tones.

     The image is sharp and clear, with coffee-table book quality. Detail is immaculate, whether the scenes are in brilliant outdoor sunshine or in shadowy film noir mode interiors. Many of the establishing shots are calendar worthy. There are absolutely no artefacts of any description in this superlative presentation.

     There are subtitles in English and for the Hearing Impaired. Both sets of subtitles were sampled and were found to be very good, although there frequently is some qualifying word, maybe an adjective or adverb, dropped from a phrase.

     These are dual-layered discs, with no change contained within an episode.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio streams on the three discs which contain commentaries, but just one stream on Disc One which is commentary free. The primary stream is Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps, while the commentary stream is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, encoded at 192 Kbps. The discs contain the option to watch the commentary episodes with or without commentary subtitles, or with just the subtitles and no commentary audio.

     The soundtrack for each episode is flawless and brilliant. The 5.1 stream presents the dialogue with crystal clarity, front and centre with minimal use of direction. The surround system is used to create a totally immersive sonic landscape, and for at times dynamic effects, with energetic use of all speakers, including the subwoofer. There is subtlety too. I particularly appreciated the exit of the symmetrically presented "cousins" as they exit a scene walking towards the camera, one leaving camera range left, the other right. As they do their footsteps divide and symmetrically move to the rear left and right speakers. A small audio pleasure to relish.

     Also dynamic is the presentation of the series' music composed by Dave Porter. The often Latin flavoured arrangements lend themselves to dynamic presentation, with interesting and exciting percussion, with the speakers surrounding us at times with truly dynamic music. Then we have lengthy stretches of dialogue, all the more spellbinding because they are totally devoid of extraneous sound. This is a soundtrack that is truly designed, and does not just "happen". There are no blemishes on a soundtrack that adds enormously to the Breaking Bad experience.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There is a very satisfying collection of extras with this season of the series. In addition, the extras appear on the disc which contains the actual episode to which they relate - very convenient.

Main Menu

     The menu is over live action with music from the series.

Inside Breaking Bad (75:04)

     All four discs have these mini "making of" documentaries, one devoted to each episode. The creator Vince Gilligan is featured prominently, but all major cast members and members of the crew participate. These are brief, pertinent, intelligent and extremely interesting for any admirer of the series. The break-up for these features is:

    Disc 1 : Four episodes (19:17). This disc also contains detailed analysis of the

  • Opening Scene of Season Three (2:52)
  • The Hay Truck (1:46)
  • The Cousins Visit Walt (2:02).
  •     Disc 2 : Three episodes (13:04)

        Disc 3 : Three episodes (13:18). This disc also contains :

  • The Cast on Season Three
  • (3:01).

        Disc 4 : Three episodes (13:36). This disc also contains a short featurette on Walt's Car (2:34)as well as A.M.C. Visits the Breaking Bad Writer's Room (3:34) which is the only "extra" which is 1.33:1.

    Mini Video Podcasts (69:46)

         Here we are given a podcast for each of the episodes, each segment being just over five minutes long. Once again, spread over the four discs, these are hosted by editor Kelly Dixon in a pleasant, relaxed manner. The entire series of discussions is much more relaxed than most interviews seen on DVDs. Dixon presides over an intimate gathering of two or three key cast and/or crew members. She asks intelligent questions, and the result is a totally engrossing few minutes which never fails to add some greater appreciation of this series.

    Deleted Scenes (21:14)

         Conveliently located on the disc with the episode they relate to, there are a total of sixteen short scenes, with quality comparable to the episode itself.

    Unused Footage (3:32)

         On Disc One, this is additional footage of the spectacular truck explosion involving "the two cousins", giving us three different vantage points.

    "Better Call Saul" : Mock Commercials and Testimonials (11:59)

         Enjoyable nonsense as actor Bob Odenkirk, as lawyer Saul Goodman, enthusiastically delivers commercials to the camera. A couple of testimonials complete the enjoyable nonsense.

    S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (4:04)

         Just over four minutes of superhero animation out of the mind of "Jesse Pinklman", following the exploits of "Doctor Chemistry" and his sidekick "Rewindo". Nicely, if simply, executed nonsense.

    Questions from the Fans (7:45)

         In separate relaxed sessions the two award winning male stars of the series sit down and answer questions written in by fans. Bryan Cranston chooses an armchair on one of the sets, while Aaron Paul perches atop a few steps. Cranston is very relaxed and personable, while Paul is nervous and intense. Both men register as sincere and passionate about the series.

    Commentaries

         Disc 2 :

         Disc 3 :

         Disc 4 :

         For the most part chaired by creator Vince Gilligan, these discussions are both casual and illuminating. Generally succeeding in avoiding mutual back slapping, the discussions are mainly focussed on what is actually on the screen, with topics generated by the participants examining what we are seeing. Those contributing are not solely the actors, although they frequently initiate particularly interesting discussions, such as Dean Norris's questions regarding "the cousins". Also involved are the DP, the composer, the editor, writers, with each member of the cast or crew giving depth and variety to the discussions. If you enjoy the series, you will find much to interest you in these comprehensive commentaries. The discussions are subtitled, in either English or English for the Hearing Impaired, and if you choose you may watch the episode with the commentary subtitles minus the audio.

    Censorship

        There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        Season three of Breaking Bad has not yet been released in Region 1.

    Summary

         Season Three of this sensationally different series manages to sustain the incredibly high quality of Season Two. Writing, direction and photography all bring to life an enthralling drama that manages to inject elements of black comedy into the most desperate emotional and physical dilemmas. The entire cast is wonderful, with the two male leads totally sensational. Bryan Cranston towers over it all, in a performance of Greek tragedy proportions. I fear what may happen to Walter White and his family before Breaking Bad comes to its inevitable end, but until we get there, this is a gripping and stimulating ride. Standard DVD has never looked or sounded better, and the extras are many, varied and enjoyably interesting.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
    Thursday, January 20, 2011
    Review Equipment
    DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
    DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
    SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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