Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Video review: "Breaking Bad: The Complete Series"
Television is in a really good place right now, with many people thinking the “small screen” offers more serious, ambitious content than do movie theaters. That’s true only if everything on TV were as good as “Breaking Bad.”
The reality is you don’t see a whole lot of truly awful movies these days, the harsh studio system weeding out anything not guaranteed to carry at least some audience appeal. Whereas television is best seen as an island of coal with a few diamonds peeking out here and there.
(Consider: for many years, “Two and a Half Men” was the top-rated comedy.)
The brainchild of Vince Gilligan is the ultimate gone-bad story. Over the course of five seasons (with the last actually split into two eight-episode runs), average milquetoast high chemistry teacher Walter White turns into the biggest methamphetamine dealer in the U.S.
Splendidly acted by Bryan Cranston -- who will eventually need a wheelbarrow for all his Emmy Awards -- the show was a prime example of a convoluted but intricately plotted story that could only be done in the “long form” of a TV series.
As one of the many people who caught up with the show by streaming it on Netflix, I will commit an act of heresy by saying that “Breaking Bad” probably is better experienced in languid regular stops than a massive binge. When you undertake the latter, certain defects in the plotting become apparent, such as an overreliance on happenstance and character behavior that varies with the needs of the storyline.
(Such as: Walter’s D.E.A. officer brother-in-law, Hank, failing to notice any of the 250-plus clues of erratic behavior by his wife’s sister’s husband.)
Still, a few weaknesses aside this was a truly audacious show, wildly ambitious and nearly always worthy of the high praise heaped upon it. With its heavy doses of symbolism, trademark innovative camera work and host of plot twists, “Breaking Bad” was television doing what TV does best.
Now you can own the entire 62-episode journey for yourself. “Breaking Bad: The Complete Series” features the entire show in a 16-disc set that includes nearly 50 hours of commercial-free episodes, plus 55 hours of bonus material. Or, if you prefer, just “Breaking Bad: The Final Season.”
Among the many video goodies is “No Half Measures,” a two-hour documentary on the making of the final eight episodes. There are also personal reflections by the cast and crew, profiles of fan favorites like slimy attorney Saul Goodman, storyboard comparisons, season retrospectives and much more.