Breaking Bad: The Complete Third Season
Rated: Not Rated
Program Length: 613 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Languages: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: French, Spanish
Breaking Bad is a highly successful and compelling drama series on the cable network AMC. Walt White (Bryan Cranston) is a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher who is married to Skyler (Anna Gunn). When the series began Skyler was in the midst of a middle-age pregnancy. They had a teenage son, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), who was afflicted with cerebral palsy. The family’s finances were strained and Walter was trying to make ends meet by moonlighting at a car wash. Then came a crushing blow - Walter was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and was told that he had perhaps two years to live.
After receiving his bad news, Walt had an occasion to talk to his brother-in-law, Hank, an officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency. While watching a news story about a drug bust, Hank began to talk about how much money is involved in drug dealing. "It's easy money," he said, "until we catch you." Walt then took Hank up on an offer to do a ride-along for a raid on a drug house where crystal meth was being made. As the DEA agents forced their way into the house, Walt observed someone climb out of a second-story window and run away. It was Jesse Pinkham (Aaron Paul), one of Walter's students. Instead of telling his brother-in-law about Jesse, Walter decided to approach Jesse himself and make a proposition which his student could not refuse. Walt demanded that Jesse take him on as his partner. Walt would use his expertise as a chemist to cook to cook the crystal meth and Jesse would use his connections to distribute the stuff. Walt figured that the profits would enable him to leave his family in sound financial shape.
Naturally, numerous complications arise. As Season Three begins, Walt's cancer is remission but his marriage is falling apart, his brother-in-law has vowed to arrest him, and he and Jesse have run afoul of a Mexican drug cartel. Bryan Cranston is a revelation in the lead role, and he won the 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. His co-star Aaron Paul took home the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Season Three consists of 13 hour-long episodes spread over four discs:
1. No Más
2. Caballo Sin Nombre
4. Green Light
7. One Minute
8. I See You
12. Half Measures
13. Full Measures
Breaking Bad continues to be a fresh, entertaining series and Season Four is scheduled to debut July 17, 2011 on AMC. Although not rated, this series decidedly is not suitable for young children.
The 1.78:1 1080p transfer is excellent in every respect and does full justice to the location filming. The images are consistently sharp, with solid colors, excellent contrast and adequate black levels. AMC is not available in HD for me, and this DVD set looks far better than Season Three looked in standard definition on DirecTV.
The Dolby Digital audio is very good, although not quite as impressive as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 on the Blu-ray discs of Season One and Season Two. Dialog is mostly confined to the center channel and every word is clear and intelligible. The surround channels come alive during the action scenes. There certainly is nothing to complain about.
A nice array of extras is included with this set.
Nine of the episodes have commentary tracks by members of the cast and crew, including Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and others.
Also included are several "behind the scenes" featurettes:
1. "Hit and Run"
2. "The Music of Breaking Bad"
3. "White Heat: Cranston on Fire"
4. "Pizza of Destiny: Cranston's Greatest Shot"
5. "Silent But Deadly: The Brothers Moncada"
Other extras include deleted scenes, unused footage, outtakes, and mini video podcasts with the cast and crew. There is an interesting "Team S.C.I.E.N.C.E." featurette and a look at the writers of the series called "AMC News Visits the Breaking Bad Writer's Room." Finally, 20 installments of "Inside Breaking Bad" take a look at how the show's episodes are made.
The four discs are packaged in two slimcases, which in turn are secured in a sturdy slip case.
The Final Analysis
I became addicted to Breaking Bad when I watched the very first episode. My only objection to the series is that it looks mediocre in standard definition on DirecTV and (I assume) on cable systems which do not carry AMC in high definition. However, the DVD set looks very good and I expect that the Blu-ray set, which was not available for review, looks spectacular.
Equipment used for this review:
Toshiba HD-XA-2 DVD player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: June 7, 2011