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4.7 out of 5 stars
Breaking Bad: The Complete Series [DVD]
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381 of 394 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2014
Having watched Breaking Bad since it's first release, I decided to buy send this DVD set to send to my parents in NZ as a Christmas gift. Both are in their 80’s and I worried that perhaps it was too violent and the language offensive for them but decided to risk it as they both enjoy gritty films and novels. They received it just before Christmas and then I never heard from them for about a week which was rather alarming. When I finally got through to them, all they could talk about was 'Breaking Bad', how exhausted they were from watching it all night and how they couldn't wait to get off the telephone and back to the final episodes. My mum couldn't stop talking about 'Jessie' and how she adored him; my dad said without the swearing and violence, it wouldn't be authentic. About 10 days after Christmas, they finally got to the end, did some food shopping, caught up on their sleep and hurt their backs from overworking in their neglected garden. I was so glad to be able to share it with them!
p.s They've now told me that nothing else on television compares to this so they're thinking of watching it all over again.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
The "Breaking Bad" Complete Series collection is a must own for fans of the show. If you've always watched the show or if you've just discovered it recently, then you know how great it is. If you've never seen "Breaking Bad", then I encourage you to give it a chance. Rarely has a show had this much universal acclaim (a 9.6 on IMDb, a 99/100 on Metacritic, 3 Emmy wins for Drama Actor and 4 Nominations for Best Drama Series, etc). [Note: If you want to sample the show, the entire series is streaming on Netflix at the time of this review].

This complete series blu-ray set features the same disc content as the now out-of-print "money barrel set" that was released last year. It contains every episode of the show as well as the special bonus disc only available in the Complete Series sets. So for those that missed out on the barrel set or just wanted simpler packaging, this new product is the perfect option.

No Spoiler Review begins here:

If ever a character personified the dichotomy of good and evil, it's Walter White. I don't watch too much TV, but I do believe this is the most interesting television character I've ever seen. In the first episode, Walt learns that he has terminal lung cancer. Therefore, he must - no, he decides to - cook crystal meth and leave behind a large sum of money for his family. So while being a meth cook is illegal and perhaps immoral, Walt's ultimate intentions are good... at least that's his point of view.

Make no mistake, Mr. White is a bad guy - if you saw him in real life or read about him in the paper, you would absolutely say he should go to prison (or worse) without hesitating. But through the medium of television and the 50+ hour journey we've taken with the character, there are still moments where the audience can identify and sympathize with him. Despite all the despicable actions he has done and all the deception of those around him, I often still find myself rooting for Walt. I think this is due to the intelligent writing on the show as well as the amazing performance given by Bryan Cranston. I'm confident you will find this character as interesting as I do.

There are two main types of narratives in TV. There's the plot-driven shows, where things move fast and there are mysteries to be solved - a lot of the enjoyment rides on the twists and turns in the story. Then there's the character-driven shows, that move more slowly - the characters are more realistic and well-rounded. "Breaking Bad" is a perfect example of how to simultaneously execute both types of storytelling - the interests of both plot and character coexist peacefully. The pacing is just right. There are many plot twists and surprises, but none of them render the show unrealistic. And above all, you care about the characters and find them fascinating. This series also plays with tension and conflict in a way that is rarely achieved in TV or film.

If you think of yourself as a "movie person" more than a TV person, then this is your show. The production value rivals that of your average Hollywood feature film. The fact that the directors achieve this with only a fraction of the budget of a Hollywood movie makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. In particular, I would like to single out the cinematography of the show - the camera work on display is near perfect, especially the time-lapse and POV shots.

Now at first glance, the story of a dying man with cancer, cooking meth, and depictions of drug use may sound unappealing and even offensive to some people on it's surface. But I'm confident that once you see the show you will understand how much more there is to the story and the characters, and drugs are never glorified. "Breaking Bad" is the type of show that my mother would hate on paper... but then she gives it a chance and winds up getting hooked!

So if you've never seen the show, hopefully I convinced you to give it a chance. And if you're already fan of the show, now's the perfect time to watch it again - I've seen each episode a minimum of 3 times. I hope I shared what I think makes "Breaking Bad" special.
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121 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2014
I've just watched the 62nd and final episode of Breaking Bad and here, without any major spoilers, is why you should begin the same breathtaking journey.

The series is an action-drama that centres on Walter White. He's a 50-year-old respected chemistry teacher, just about keeping his family afloat with the aid of a second job at a car wash, who one day is given a diagnosis of terminal cancer. With a wife, son (who has cerebral palsy) and soon-to-be-born baby to care for, not to mention his considerable medical expenses, he needs money - and fast.

Walt takes the fateful step of combining his perfectionist chemical know-how with one of his more street-savvy former students, Jesse Pinkman, to 'cook' and supply the highest quality crystal meth that their area has seen. He discovers that once on this path, although there are many detours, it's very difficult to go back. Walt's relationships with his family and friends (including his DEA agent brother-in-law) are suddenly beset with problems, and he frequently relies on resourcefulness, ingenuity and serendipity to both keep his illicit activities from them and play the criminal fraternity at its own game.

So why does the series enjoy so much acclaim? It comes down to a brilliant original idea from Vince Gilligan, working closely with a talented writing team who, over the course of five seasons, hammer out every single plot point and use all the narrative devices in the book to tell an utterly compelling story of one man's embarkation on a hazardous voyage. Not just that, it has the magical combination of a first-rate ensemble cast (Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul play Walt and Jesse respectively), innovative hand-held camerawork (beautiful timelapse establishing shots; out of kilter POV moments) and excellent characterisation.

Because Sony was taking a tentative punt on the series and it coincided with a writers' strike, the episodes in the first batch are few in number (just seven). However, each of the next three seasons comprises thirteen instalments and season five is split into two runs of eight apiece. The low episode count for season one works to its advantage as it allows plenty of time to set the scene and introduce characters while still telling a blackly comedic tale, which leads directly into the series proper, if you like.

This is a programme you'll want to stick with. It continually raises the stakes as it goes on and, come the final episodes, you'll be bingeing on it. Breaking Bad is, quite simply, one of the finest examples of television art. There are many British shows that could learn from it.
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140 of 152 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2014
The funny thing about Breaking Bad is that when you urge people to watch it, and describe the basic idea of the show, they think it all sounds a bit ridiculous. Well, hands up, so did we when it was explained to us. To anyone out there who has these doubts - put them from your mind! This is, without doubt one of the finest pieces of drama ever made. There is not a weak performance from any of the actors, and the consistent quality of the storyline is maintained through all 5 series. I would go as far as to say that Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Walter White (mild-mannered chemistry teacher gone bad) is bordering on genius.

Although there is a fair degree of violence on show, there is also a thread of humour that runs alongside, particularly in the earlier series. It does get quite dark towards the end, but by that time you have probably decided that some of them are getting what they deserve! The ending is perfect and left us feeling a bit breathless and strangely bereaved! What are we going to do in the evenings now? The only minor gripe we have is that the quality of the packaging leaves a bit to be desired (Blu Ray version). It looks as though they rushed to get this out for Christmas before it was perfected. Didn't affect the playing of any of the discs, so no stars off for that.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. Buy, borrow beg or scrounge a copy - you won't regret it!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2014
These comments are regarding the 21-DVD set, not the Blu-ray edition. They pertain to the product - the discs, packaging, special features, etc. - and not to the series itself, which I would rank at 4 stars.

After thoroughly reviewing all of the customer comments on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and Amazon.de (I live in a German-speaking country), I ordered - with trepidation - from Amazon.co.uk, which has by far the best price.

The packaging is every bit as dismal as many others have stated. The discs just don't stay in the little slits in the cheesy cardboard sleeves. I am considering replacing them with standard hard plastic "slimiline" DVD cases which hold two discs each. There is nothing in the packaging that is really worth keeping. The case which holds the six individual sleeves sounds like it's about to crack each time I open it. This set was NOT built to last!

I also agree with the customer who opined that at least 80% of the "More Than 50 Hours Of Bonus Features!" are meaningless drivel, some of them totally unwatchable. The audio commentary is among the worst I have ever heard on a DVD for a TV series or film.

The 5.1 Dolby mix is dreadful! I have a surround sound system, and all the dialogue, sound effects, and music played in context of an episode (that is, for example, on a radio) are crammed into the front center speaker: it may as well be in mono. The other speakers are used only for soundtrack music (original scoring) and the front and end credits. This is yet another huge blown opportunity. They could have done so much, but it seems they were just interested in getting product onto the shelves as quickly as possible. My "gold standards" for 5.1 mixes on TV series are "Twin Peaks" (where you can almost always hear the distant roar of the waterfall or the wind in the trees coming from the side and rear speakers) and "Mad Men" (where the ambient office noises and traffic are coming at you very subtly from all around).

And what is up with each season coming with totally different sets of audio tracks and subtitles? I believe two or three offer German audio (which comes in handy since - as I mentioned before - I live in a German-speaking country) while others offer only French or Spanish, and the subtitles are a total free-for-all. This also indicates to me that the set was thrown together with no regard for consistency. This is also supported by the fact that some of the discs - but not all - make you watch a brief animated "Thank you for supporting the British TV and film industries." Again, there is no consistency, even within a single season.

Finally, Amazon's mailing container was so slipshod and loose that the DVD box just slid out of the Amazon packaging cardboard sleeve! I am amazed that no one ripped it off! If there was a packing slip, it fell out of the package in transit. Also, even though the Amazon box fit quite comfortably in my mailbox (I tested it when I got home), I received an e-mail from my post office directing me to go there to collect it. Amazon could not provide a reason for this when I contacted them to complain about the poor packing and my reticence to remove the shrinkwrap from the DVD box and open it, since there was no packing slip - hence no proof of purchase - and given the number of complaints I read about the discs, I feared that I might have to return it. (Amazon advised me to open the box and test the discs.)

All that being said, I have been - so far! - pleasantly surprised that the discs are playing as well as they are. I have to say that, despite the crummy packaging, of the 16 DVDs I've watched so far, only the very first disc gave me trouble: when choosing the "Play All Episodes" function, it rendered my remote control useless. Even hitting "Stop" did nothing. I had to manually turn off the player, turn it on again, and remove the DVD. (For the record, I have a top-of-the-line, code-free Pioneer DVD player, less than one year old.) This disc did, however, play just fine and allowed the use of the remote when I played each episode individually. This has been the only glitch to date. Five more discs to go: let's see what happens!

P.S. I have now watched all 21 DVDs. The same problem which occurred with Disc 1 of Season 1 occurred with Disc 1 of Season 5: if I select the "Play All Episodes" function, it renders my remote control useless and the DVD player must be shut down and the disc removed. It does, however, play and the remote functions if I watch each episode individually. I've also tried listening to some of the commentary tracks and they are largely nothing but as many as six people all congratulating themselves. If I heard Vince Gilligan start another insipid sentence with "I just love how..." I was going to scream. A major lost opportunity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 February 2015
This box set has 21 discs and all the seasons have English subtitles available.

I'm not a massive fan of US television, everything is far too drama-fied and generally painful for me to watch. However Breaking Bad is probably the best thing I've ever watched. I went into this wondering how enjoyable it would be when it had the goofy dad from Malcolm in the Middle as the main role, but my god it's a genius casting as he is absolutely brilliant in the role. Solid side characters entering in all seasons as quickly as they depart makes this so gripping, you won't be able to get away once you're sucked in.Can't wait to see how it all ends...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2015
Plays first few episodes on each disc fine then the last two have random crashes and random pixel glitches!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2014
The best show I've ever watched on TV by far. Heard a lot about it and forked out the money to buy in German Amazon so my girlfriend who is German could watch it first and I watched it after (comes in English aswell obviously). Cannot praise the blu ray box set enough. We both agreed that this is the best TV show we've ever watched and she's so glad I recommended this to her. Kills many many hours of otherwise normal crap on TV. Be warned- you will be hooked from the first episode!!! Brilliant acting. 5 stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2015
Such a great programme is completely ruined by the awful quality of the discs. How can Sony get away with putting out such rubbish-they stick, jump and render some episodes completely unwatchable. And have damaged my DVD player
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2015
This is about the DVD packaging.
The outer is nice, solid thick board in the shape of a box file. Wrapped around this a paper cover which has all the legal certificates and the rear discription information. This is a nice touch because it is designed to be removed so the box can sit on the shelf with no red and blue certificates. But my criticism of this is that people will want to at least keep the back cover information, they could have included a card inside the box of the back cover information.
Inside the box is where it all goes wrong, each seperate series is inside a thin card envelope with each disc held in a slit in the card. Discs held in carboard slits are a recipe for scratched discs. And that is why I don't like the packaging.
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