A Few Words About A few words about...™ Breaking Bad - Season Four -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Time being of the essence, I missed the first three seasons of Breaking Bad, although I'd heard very positive things about it.

    When Season Four was announced for Blu-ray, which is my preferred means of viewing for all long-form episodic broadcast, especially cable, I asked my son for his opinion. And was told that I "needed" to see it, as it was possibly the best thing on broadcast.

    I further realized that I couldn't simply jump into Season Four, and have any idea what was going on, and began with a sampling of episodes from the first three seasons, in order to follow the story-line.

    I can confirm, that without prior knowledge, I would have been lost.

    Now that I've been able to view the first few episodes of Season Four, I'm impressed.

    Very impressed,

    By the writing, the plot-line, which occasionally meanders a la Lost, with shots that come up episodes in advance, without meaning, that take shape as the season continues...

    The cinematography -- the pilot episode got off to an incredible start, as the producers brought in John Toll behind the camera. It doesn't get much better.

    Audio, which tends to be a bit folded in when viewing on a TV sized monitor without 5.1, expands notably when played back on a full system. I should mention that I generally watch (and review) TV and cable programming on a basic system -- 50 or 55" flat panel, and either just left and right audio, or occasionally surrounds. Never a sub.

    When viewing product created for TV, it must be realized that there are stylistic differences to feature films. Hardly as much as it was a decade ago, when monitor sizes were far smaller, but different nonetheless. There is a general lack of extreme long shots, or even medium long shots, and a tendency to go more to a closer view. Understandable, when the majority of the audience will be viewing on around 32".

    On a nominal 50" monitor, the image of Breaking Bad is superb. It's shot on 35mm 3-perf film, which gives it a bit smoother look than most digital imagery, and is finished in HD.

    Bump it up, and things begin to change, but just a bit.

    Where some entities may have tried to save a bit of budget, knowing that broadcast in 1080i isn't going to be problematic regardless of how image is completed, the team behind Breaking Bad holds things together. Kick the image up to over 90" and just a couple of things are noticed. A bit of banding in fades, and the very slightest bit of sharpening -- walking up the screen and looking for it, sharpening.

    Nothing problematic.

    So even in projection, the image holds up very nicely. Audio becomes a totally different experience. As an example, in the opening sequence, "Box Cutter," David Costabile, who plays Gale, is opening some large crates. As he cuts the strapping, and sides fall away, we get a real jolt as they hit the floor, and then...

    and this is what got my attention...

    foam peanuts come flying out of the packaging, and they can be heard, flying and landing.

    Very nicely done.

    I'm certain that I don't need to go into performances from Bryan Cranston (who also directed episodes), Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, or the ever-dangerous Jonathan Banks. Suffice to say, performances are spectacular across the board.

    Great series, that goes places that are unexpected in a darkly humorous way.

    Beautifully produced Blu-rays, that are unfortunately making some of the most recent very high-end catalog releases pale in comparison.

    Glad I finally got the chance to make Mr. White's acquaintance.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Richard and I discussed it in his review thread but when you get episodes 7, 8, 10 and 11, the subtitles for the Spanish dialogue don't automatically turn on. If you go into the pop-up menu, turn on the subtitles and then turn the subtitles off again, the subtitles should appear as intended for the Spanish dialogue.
    A couple of the episodes have ten minutes of straight Spanish so unless you know alot of the language, you'll need those subtitles. :)
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Best to contact Sony here. Since you're aware of the problems, go direct.

    consumer@SPHECustomerSupport.sony.com

    RAH
     
  4. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Travis is referring to the primary encoded material, i.e., the English track. In the episodes noted, there are characters who speak Spanish. In past seasons, English subs automatically appeared when this happened. In this season, you have to take action to make them appear. It's an authoring error. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but it's good to know about so you know what to do when you reach that point in the show.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    My apologies. Misunderstood. Let me see what I can find out.
    Brings to mind the missing subs on. Annie Hall and at least one of the Bond films.
    Someone in QC should be picking these things up.
    RAH
     
  6. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I had the same issues when I was trying to figure out the negotiations being done between Gus and the representative of the Cartel...

    The series is dangerously addictive.

    Oh, and the new season starts around July 15th. Just sayin'.


    BTW the audio demo performed by Jessie Pinkman in episode 2 of his new home theater system has to be heard to be believed...
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Excerpt from imaginary job posting for QC employee:

    "Must not be fluent in Spanish."
     
  8. Richard Gallagher

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    Just to clarify, you do not have to wait until you reach the scenes (or even the episodes) which are in Spanish to apply the fix.

    From the main menu click on Subtitles and turn the English subtitles on. The turn them off. You don't have to exit and come back again, you can do it immediately. The English subtitles will then appear automatically when there is Spanish dialogue.

    Props to TravisR for coming up with the fix. It shouldn't be necessary, of course, but it's easy enough to work around it. Other sites are saying that you have to pause and engage the subtitles when you reach the Spanish scenes, but that is not the case.

    Also, the issue does not arise until you get to Disc Two, Episode 7.

    It's a glitch, but not a serious one when you know how to fix it.
     
  9. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Normally on Sony titles the English subs defaulting active/OFF will properly display any Forced Narrative subtitles for non-English spoken dialogue (within the English audio track) when needed. I wonder why this isn't the case on this disc - is it defaulting with another subtitle active/OFF, like Spanish or French? Consumers with Panasonic players should be able to answer this question, as Panasonics generally can show subtitle OFF/ON status.
     
  10. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    Great Season finale on this Robert Harris... you are in for a treat. I felt like overall this season was slower than most... but then again they are building for a nice climax. Please don't spoil the show for Robert.


    I had to adjust my subs also on specific scenes in eps... in fact I almost forgot! I would be watcing it thinking... Oh I'm not supposed to know what they are saying much like characters within the scene are not priviledged to know. Not the case... but I would have to rewkind a few lines and hit my subs.
     

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