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Blu-ray Review Breaking Bad The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Richard Gallagher

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Breaking Bad is a highly successful and compelling drama series on the cable network AMC. For the uninitiated, Walt White (Bryan Cranston) is a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico who is married to Skyler (Anna Gunn). When the series began Skyler was in the midst of a middle-age pregnancy. They have a teenage son, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), who has 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.

 


Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season

Studio: Sony
Year: 2011
Rated: Not Rated
Program Length: 610 minutes                 
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p
Languages: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

The Program

Breaking Bad is a highly successful and compelling drama series on the cable network AMC. For the uninitiated, Walt White (Bryan Cranston) is a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico who is married to Skyler (Anna Gunn). When the series began Skyler was in the midst of a middle-age pregnancy. They have a teenage son, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), who has 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 the crystal meth and Jesse would use his connections to distribute the stuff. Walt naively figured that the easy profits would enable him to leave his family in sound financial shape.

Naturally, numerous complications arise. Walt cooks up high-grade crystal meth, a product which is of such quality that he and Jesse take business away from the drug cartel which has been supplying the area. As Season Four begins, Walt's cancer is in remission but he is estranged from Skyler. Hank, his brother-in-law, is relentlessly pursuing him, and his relationship with Jesse is threatening to blow up because of his partner's increasingly erratic behavior. To make matters worse, Walt has to deal with a vicious drug lord, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

Bryan Cranston has garnered well-deserved praise for his performance 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. The rest of the supporting cast is excellent, with Bob Odenkirk particularly noteworthy as a smarmy lawyer, Saul Goodman. The series also has been nominated for Emmy Awards in several other categories, including Outstanding Cinematography for a One-Hour Series.

Season Four consists of 13 hour-long episodes spread over three discs:

1. Box Cutter
2. Thirty-Eight Snub
3. Open House
4. Bullet Points
5. Shotgun
6. Cornered
7. Problem Dog
8. Hermanos
9. Bug
10. Salud
11. Crawl Space
12. End Times
13. Face Off

The final episode of Season Four builds to a shattering climax and will leave viewers anxiously waiting for more. Fortunately, Season Five is scheduled to debut on July 15 on AMC. Breaking Bad continues to be a fresh, original and exciting series which is not rated and is not suitable for young children.

The Video

The 1.78:1 1080p transfer is outstanding in every respect and does full justice to the spectacular location filming. The images are consistently sharp, with solid and accurate colors, excellent contrast and inky black levels. All four seasons of Breaking Bad have looked simply gorgeous on Blu-ray.

The Audio

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio is every bit as good as the video. Dialogue is mostly confined to the center channel and every word is clear and intelligible. The surround channels come alive during the action scenes and at times the audio is quite explosive. The evocative music is given a wide and pleasing soundstage. NOTE: There are several extended scenes during Season Four in which the characters have conversations in Spanish. Inexplicably, English subtitles do not automatically appear during these scenes. Viewers who do not understand Spanish have to manually engage the English subtitles in order to understand what is being said. This is a significant flaw and it remains to be seen if this situation will be remedied by Sony. UPDATE: HTF member TravisR has found a workaround to the subtitles problem. After the disc finishes loading and the main menu appears, click on Subtitles and engage the English subtitles. Then turn the English subtitles off (it is not necessary to leave the subtitles menu and come back - just engage the subtitles and you can immediately turn them off). Then play the disc and the English subtitles will appear whenever the dialogue is in Spanish. It is not necessary to do this for each episode. I tried the fix and then watched the Spanish-language scene in of Episode 7, "Problem Dog," and it worked flawlessly. Then I played episode 8, "Hermanos," jumped ahead to the Spanish scene and the English subtitles engaged automatically.

The Supplements

The Blu-ray of Season Four is packed with extras.

All thirteen episodes have commentary tracks by members of the cast and crew, including Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and others.

Also included are nine featurettes which examine such topics as the show's sets and the "science" of making a hit series. Of special interest is the featurette entitled "Face Off," which is an inside look at the season's incredible finale.

Other extras include extended and deleted scenes, five uncensored episodes, a gag reel, and an extended version of the season finale. The "Better Call Saul" television commercials are always amusing, and there also is a karaoke video. 21 installments of "Inside Breaking Bad" take a look at how the show's episodes are made, and there is a Blu-ray exclusive consisting of 13 video podcasts.

The Packaging

The three discs are securely packaged in a flipper Blu-ray keep case. Also included is an episode guide which gives a thumbnail description of each episode.

The Final Analysis

I became addicted to Breaking Bad when I watched the very first episode, and it continues to be a riveting show. Interested viewers who have not seen the show are strongly urged to go back to Season One and watch it from the beginning

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray 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 5, 2012

 

Deepak Shenoy

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Thanks for the review. Have you noticed the issue that some have noticed with missing English subtitles for the Spanish dialogue ? The previous seasons apparently had English subtitles that came on automatically when the dialogue was in Spanish. I will wait for Sony to fix this before picking up the Blu-ray set.
-D
 

Richard Gallagher

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Originally Posted by Deepak Shenoy /t/321369/breaking-bad-the-complete-fourth-season-blu-ray-review#post_3936094
Thanks for the review. Have you noticed the issue that some have noticed with missing English subtitles for the Spanish dialogue ? The previous seasons apparently had English subtitles that came on automatically when the dialogue was in Spanish. I will wait for Sony to fix this before picking up the Blu-ray set.
-D
When I get a chance I'll take a look. I watched Season Four on AMC last year, so for purposes of this review looked at all the extras, but I spot-checked the 13 episodes for a/v quality and I didn't watch every minute of every episode again. I'll look for some other reviews and see if any of the them point to specific scenes in specific episodes. If it's just a few words here and I wouldn't think that it would make any difference.
 

TravisR

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Richard Gallagher said:
I'll look for some other reviews and see if any of the them point to specific scenes in specific episodes.
I haven't seen the episodes since they first ran but if I remember correctly, Hermanos and Salud (episodes 8 and 10) have subtitling.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Originally Posted by TravisR /t/321369/breaking-bad-the-complete-fourth-season-blu-ray-review#post_3936302
I haven't seen the episodes since they first ran but if I remember correctly, Hermanos and Salud (episodes 8 and 10) have subtitling.

I believe you are correct. I did see that the reviewer at DVD Talk said that he had to manually engage the English subtitles, but he also said that it may have been an equipment issue for him. The reviewer at blu-ray.com says nothing about missing subtitles. The are some comments on Amazon about subtitle issues, but on a closer look those were issues with streaming, not with the physical discs.
 

Deepak Shenoy

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A member of the forum at Blu-ray.com had initially noticed this and it was later confirmed by others (they had also posted the exact times within the episodes where the subtitles were missing). Unfortunately Blu-ray.com had some kind of a glitch recently and lost all of their forum postings going back to mid-April.
-D
 

TravisR

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I'm up to Problem Dog (episode 7) and that doesn't have subtitles during a scene spoken in Spanish. Granted, you can turn the subs on and then off again but that's the kind of flaw that should result in immediate recall of the discs and replacement program for those that have the botched discs. I'm not holding my breath for Sony to do that though.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Originally Posted by TravisR /t/321369/breaking-bad-the-complete-fourth-season-blu-ray-review#post_3936536
I'm up to Problem Dog (episode 7) and that doesn't have subtitles during a scene spoken in Spanish. Granted, you can turn the subs on and then off again but that's the kind of flaw that should result in immediate recall of the discs and replacement program for those that have the botched discs. I'm not holding my breath for Sony to do that though.
You are correct. That is a substantial, extended scene and the English subtitles should be engaged automatically, but they are not. I am editing the review to include this problem. I am fairly certain that the subtitles appeared automatically when Season Four appeared on AMC - I know a little Spanish, but I surely would have noticed subtitles being missing from extended scenes.
 

TravisR

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Good news- I was messing with the subtitles during an episode and figured out how to get around the problem (at least on my player). I got it to work by:
- At the beginning of the episode (or whenever you want), turn on the subtitles
- Go back into the pop-up menu and turn off the subtitles
- Restart or continue the episode and the subtitles will play when they're supposed to
The times to check to see if that works on your player are in Problem Dog (episode 7) from 28:30 to 30:30, Hermanos (episode 8) from 34:30 to 45:15, Salud (episode 10) from 7:45 to 9:30 and 35:45 to 45:00. I haven't watched the last three episodes yet so there may be some subtitles in those episodes too but I'm assuming that work around will do the trick on all of it.
Also, I checked with a friend who has the DVD and the subtitles play when they're supposed to.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Thanks, Travis! I'll try that on my Blu-ray player later today. It's an extra step which shouldn't be necessary, but if it works for everyone it sure beats having to pause and engage the subtitles in the middle of an episode.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Originally Posted by TravisR /t/321369/breaking-bad-the-complete-fourth-season-blu-ray-review#post_3936761
Good news- I was messing with the subtitles during an episode and figured out how to get around the problem (at least on my player). I got it to work by:
- At the beginning of the episode (or whenever you want), turn on the subtitles
- Go back into the pop-up menu and turn off the subtitles
- Restart or continue the episode and the subtitles will play when they're supposed to
The times to check to see if that works on your player are in Problem Dog (episode 7) from 28:30 to 30:30, Hermanos (episode 8) from 34:30 to 45:15, Salud (episode 10) from 7:45 to 9:30 and 35:45 to 45:00. I haven't watched the last three episodes yet so there may be some subtitles in those episodes too but I'm assuming that work around will do the trick on all of it.
.

I can confirm that your fix works. In fact, it isn't even necessary to go back to turn off the subtitles. Just open the subtitles menu from the main menu, turn the English subtitles on and immediately turn them off. The English subtitles will then engage automatically whenever the dialogue is in Spanish. It's an extra step but it's a painless solution to what must be an encoding error.
 

TravisR

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Richard Gallagher said:
I can confirm that your fix works. In fact, it isn't even necessary to go back to turn off the subtitles. Just open the subtitles menu from the main menu, turn the English subtitles on and immediately turn them off. The English subtitles will then engage automatically whenever the dialogue is in Spanish. It's an extra step but it's a painless solution to what must be an encoding error.
Cool. Thanks for saving me a step too!
I finished watching the set and there's also a couple of subtitles in Crawl Space (episode 11) from 7:45 to 8:15 and the work around corrects them too.
There's a few brief behind the scenes Easter eggs to be found too. They're all on disc 3,...
- in Episode Selections, go to '13. Face Off' and press left arrow, an icon will pop up, press Enter
- in Special Features, go to 'Inside The Explosive Finale' and press left
- in Special Features, go to 'The Real Breaking Bad Family' and press right
- in Special Features, go to 'Gag Reel' and press right
 

Ronald Epstein

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Before I begin...

Is Sony going to fix these discs? I'd hate to rely
on subtitles that I shouldn't have to be turning on.


In anticipation of Season 5 on July 15th, I sat down
and rewatched the final episode of Season 4, Face Off.

What an incredibly brilliant finale to that season.

I also had the chance to sit and watch the extras, and
urge all of you to do the same. Some really great stuff
here -- in particular, the shooting of the season finale --
which includes a look at the makeup, explosives, and
digital editing. One of the highlights for me was seeing
the actor that plays Hector Salamanca walking around
without wheelchair or oxygen support.

Another interesting featurette takes us through many
of the interior sets used on the show.

Really had a grand time watching this stuff. Looking
forward to July 15th.
 

Roger_R

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This is the sort of thing for which BD-Live would be useful. They could just release a patch to fix the menu logic.
 

Deepak Shenoy

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Messages
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Has Sony acknowledged the problem with the subtitles that don't come on automatically (for Spanish dialogue) ? Just wondering if they will quietly fix the problem or just ignore it ? I know the workaround is simple but I would prefer to hold off on buying the set until the problem is fixed.
-D
 

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