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Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2009)
Walter White is a down-on-his-luck chemistry teacher struggling to make ends meet for his wife and physically challenged son. Everything changes when Walter receives a startling diagnosis: terminal lung cancer. With only a few years to live and nothing to lose, Walter uses his training as a chemist to cook and sell crystal meth with one of his former students. As his status grows, so do his lies, but Walt will stop at nothing to make sure his family is taken care of after he's gone, even if it means putting all their lives on the line.
For more about Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season and the Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte
Directors: Michelle MacLaren, Adam Bernstein, Vince Gilligan, Colin Bucksey, Michael Slovis, Bryan Cranston
» See full cast & crew
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
Break good and add this -- and season one's -- release to your Blu-ray collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 3, 2010
My dad is my hero.
Now with almost twice as much goodness as the seven-episode season one, the 13-episode strong second season of "Breaking Bad" proves just as infectious, fun, dramatic, exciting, suspenseful, and relevant as its predecessor, all with a more rounded presentation with room to spread its legs and grow into the future. Following the story of terminal lung cancer patient-turned methamphetamine manufacturer Walter White (Bryan Cranston), season two continues to prove why creator Vince Gilligan's series is one of the best on television, the show a perfect mixture of black comedy and heartfelt drama with plenty of other ideas and themes scattered throughout not for good measure but as crucial elements to the stories the series tells. At times tearfully sad and depressing, at times rousingly funny, and at other times still mysterious but always unique and wonderfully crafted on both sides of the camera, "Breaking Bad" is a show that's as polished and deliciously addicting as any out there after but two seasons and twenty episodes. Never a line wasted, a shot misused, or a thematic angle ignored, "Breaking Bad" delivers thought-provoking yet at the same time incredibly entertaining television that's arguably at the top of the heap of must-see shows of the past several years.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) find themselves shaken up and in a state of confusion after witnessing a particularly brutal display of drug-induced machismo that has them questioning their working relationship with drug kingpin Tuco (Raymond Cruz). Jesse purchases a revolver on the black market while Walter struggles to find a new means of distributing the new and improved blue-colored methamphetamine that's become all the rage around town. Jesse finds himself involved in a fast-developing relationship with his landlord Jane (Krysten Ritter), a recovering addict who attends a support group with her tough but caring father Donald (John de Lancie). Meanwhile, Walter is still battling his cancer and keeping secrets from his pregnant wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) and handicapped son Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), and while he's staying on top of his medical bills, he finds his funds in a constant state of flux, going not towards his planned savings but instead his treatments and the maintenance of the drug production materials. After the Tuco fiasco, Walter is left to search for a way to corner the market and sell at bulk rather than leave it to Jesse to move small quantities for too little a return. At the same time, Walter's brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris), a New Mexico DEA agent, remains on the hunt for the region's newest drug kingpin, known on the streets only as "Heisenberg."
Season Two of "Breaking Bad" can best be described as a season of consequences for the collection of primary characters. Whereas season one's brief seven-episode run reflects its successor as a thematically intense, emotionally satisfying, and simply entertaining collection of shows, season one understandably also deals in plenty of basic character establishment and development in conjunction with its broader storytelling. Season two need not worry about establishing characters in a basic sense; it's instead free to more fully explore their lives and the repercussions of Walter's selfish but oddly understandable actions on those around him. The season begins to yield the fruits of the first season's labor almost immediately; indeed, for Walter, Jesse, Hank, and Skyler, season two deals in the direct and, oftentimes more widespread but not necessarily more personal, indirect consequences of Walter and Jesse's burgeoning narcotics empire. Walter sees the effects of his actions firsthand a number of times throughout and as part of a larger chain reaction of events that comes to define the season; the show smartly intersects his personal life with his secretive professional life, and often through the season Walter finds them at significant odds. While one is up, the other is often down, with personal choices, actions and reactions, and the happiness and perhaps even the very lives of those around him -- those he loves, those he loathes, and those towards whom he is rather indifferent but necessarily involved with -- all consistently in a state of struggle and flux within him and magnified through every action he takes. Walter remains in a constant struggle to live up to his multiple demanding roles as a husband, father, relative, friend, acquaintance, business partner, drug lord, and enemy as he attempts to maintain a fragile equilibrium between honesty and deception, love and hate, confusion and perhaps even a touch of burgeoning arrogance as he works hard to balance a life that's become almost a blur where truth and falsehoods and his very fate as a man, patient, and husband are at constant odds inside Walter's newly-shaved head and outside with every step and breath he takes.
As for the show's other characters, it's Walter's brother-in-law Hank that proves perhaps the most engaging from a purely psychological and emotional perspective. While "Breaking Bad" remains Walter's show, the dynamic not just of a DEA agent in the family but a DEA agent that's forced to face his true self throughout the season -- a confident, rugged, and happy-go-lucky exterior that comes face-to-face with a troubled, tormented, and traumatized soul -- makes for the season's most fascinating singular arc. Hank's comfort zone that is his family and his position as a local New Mexico DEA agent is upset by a series of events that reveal the true inner-workings of the character and make him, perhaps, the season's most fluid and sympathetic. His arc is eerily reflective of Walter's; both characters are forced to examine a side of themselves that they'd rather was left buried deep within. Both react to new challenges and interruptions to their comfort zones differently; the more extroverted Hank ultimately cannot withstand the pressures that come with greater challenges while the more introverted Walt embraces his new role as a rugged tough man with a borderline sinister but nevertheless logically-based and emotionally-focused attitude. Meanwhile, Jesse's character is given the opportunity to, like Walter, experience firsthand the consequences of his lifestyle, while Walter's wife Skyler copes with the interesting dynamic of a family that's about to expand but at the same time seems to be tearing itself apart as Walter becomes more distant, absent, and sometimes a shell of his former self not from his illness but rather the result of a part of his life that remains unknown to his wife. Unfortunately, season two continues to treat Walter and Skyler's handicapped teenage son, Walter Jr., as little more than a prop rather than a character integral to the storyline; hopefully season three will see his further development and integration as a major player into the story lines.
Season two of "Breaking Bad" -- while staying true to the established thematic overtones of the first season -- proves a bit more gritty and bold than its predecessor. Much of that is due to the aforementioned space to better develop the characters and implement additional challenges into the series, but there's still no denying that there's a far darker, grungier, and oftentimes more harrowing feel to season two. Considering that the show maintains its emotional balance at the same time, credit must again be given to series creator Vince Gilligan for maintaining the show's integrity even through the expanded world and darker recesses of the body and mind this season explores. Many of the stories -- and even the larger arcs and the season's climax -- certainly rely on happenstance and sheer luck as factors in crafting excitement and drama, but the show works wonderfully nevertheless, particularly considering its themes of fate and consequence, the former something that's more alluded to rather than explored with the latter, obviously, representing the primary thematic crux of the entire season. Season two remains strongly crafted on both sides of the camera, with the scripts smartly written and the episodes handsomely directed while the collection of primary and even many secondary actors turn in stunningly realistic and oftentimes emotionally moving performances. Bryan Cranston and the scripts with which he works both make it oddly easy to root for Walter; he's a protagonist that's highly flawed but nevertheless sympathetic in spite of his actions. The character works so well -- particularly as he is developed this season -- because of the show's insistence of exploring an otherwise honest, moral, and sincere individual obviously fighting through a Jekyll-Hyde sort of scenario. Will his true and honest intentions -- securing a financial future for his family before he passes away -- get the best of his moral compass, particularly as he begins to witness firsthand the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual destruction of himself, his family, and many others that surround his line of work?
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season" yields a 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer that's much improved over the middling image that accompanies season one. While this season retains the darker-than-average visual scheme, fine detail is greatly improved though not completely intricate and convincing. Faces are far more textured and "lived in" rather than pasty and devoid of more lifelike texturing. Likewise, finer details on clothing, dirt roads, sandy terrains, and everyday objects seen throughout various locations take on a more defined and developed visual structure than their season one counterparts. Outdoor shots retain a fairly harsh and gritty tone, but season two does feature a more balanced and consistent grain structure rather than the somewhat topsy-turvy look as seen in season one. Likewise, black levels are more forgiving and natural in this go-round, but flesh tones take on a slight rosy tint. Like season one, season two sees some scattered white speckles, and there's also a touch of banding and aliasing, though the latter two fall into the "blink and miss them" category. Sony's Blu-ray release of season two of "Breaking Bad" isn't a visual tour-de-force, but it is a respectable and stable image that outclasses its counterpart and makes for a solid if not somewhat ordinary transfer, even considering the generally dark tone the show employs.
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
"Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season" delivers yet another high quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. As was the case with season one's DTS mix, season two yields yet another hard-hitting and fully-realized sonic experience that's the envy of plenty of other television show home video releases, a praiseworthy feat considering that "Breaking Bad" is at its core more of a dialogue-driven Drama than it is a straight Action series where one might expect a more robust sonic presentation. Nevertheless, this one delivers plenty of rich and full aural goodness, whether musical delivery, gunfire, explosions, or everyday atmospherics. A shootout in episode two between participants wielding a fully-automatic M4 and a .40 caliber Glock delivers a crisp, robust, and satisfying experience as bullets bounce off of and tear through various objects and pierce the soundstage as round after round screams from one speaker to the next. Likewise, musical delivery is practically faultless; a Mariachi band as heard at the beginning of "Negro y Azul" allows listeners to hear every note with each passing strum of the guitar with a clarity that's seemingly unmatched anywhere else. Atmospherics continue to be a strongly-realized characteristic of season two; there's always a good sense of immersion into practically every environment, whether the harsh New Mexico desert terrain or the background noises of an upper middle-class neighborhood. With dialogue that always comes across without a hitch, "Breaking Bad" once again delivers a noteworthy and consistently excellent lossless soundtrack experience.
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season" contains a wealth of bonus materials spread across three Blu-ray discs. Like season one's release, season two features all extras listed in each disc's menu screen, but users will have to swap discs to see some of them. As for episode-specific features on disc one, episode one, "Seven Thirty-Seven" contains an audio commentary track with Creator Vince Gilligan; Actor/Director Bryan Cranston; and actors Aaron Paul, RJ Mitte, Anna Gunn, and Betsy Brandt. Additionally, episode one contains a deleted scene (480p, 0:57) and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:28), a peek inside the story, themes, and characters of the episode. Episode two, "Grilled," features only Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 2:55). The season's third episode, "Bit By a Dead Bee," features both a deleted scene (480p, 0:22) and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:46). Episode four, "Down," also contains a deleted scene (480p, 0:43) and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:26). Finally, episode five, "Breakage," offers only Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 2:35). Disc one also features several active supplements under the "special features" tab. Season 1 Recap (480p, 1:31) is first, followed by the five Inside 'Breaking Bad' featurettes that are duplicated from the episode menu. Behind the Scenes (480p) is an eleven-part feature that explores a plethora of aspects behind the making of the show. However, only the first two listed segments are available on disc one. These include The Cast on Season 2 (2:51) and Season 2 -- What's in a Name? (3:01).
Moving on to disc two, users will continue to find extras both in each episode's menu selection screen as well as the "special features" tab on the main menu. Episode six, "Peekaboo," contains one deleted scene (480p, 0:52) and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:02). The season's seventh episode, "Negro y Azul," features only Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:58). An audio commentary track with Creator Vince Gilliagan, Actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, Writer Peter Gould, and Director of Photography Michael Slovis; a deleted scene (480p, 0:59); and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:11) come with episode eight, "Better Call Saul." Episode nine, "4 Days Out," contains an audio commentary with Creator Vince Gilligan, Actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, Director of Photography Michael Slovis, and episode Director Michelle MacLaren; two deleted scenes (480p, 1:23); and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:11). Once again, crossover episodes of Inside 'Breaking Bad' are also available under the special features menu option. Also active under the special features tab on disc two are the Behind the Scenes segments Making of 'Negro y Azul' Music Video (480p, 2:00) and The Tortoise Scene (480p, 2:48). Also included is the Negro y Azul music video (1080p, 3:25).
Disc three features the bulk of the special features content. Once again, each episode arrives with its own unique content under the episode selection tab. Episode ten, "Over," contains one deleted scene (480p, 2:07) and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:37). The season's eleventh episode, "Mandala," features three deleted scenes (480p, 3:51) and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:49). Episode twelve, "Phoenix," contains only Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:41). Finally, the season finale, "ABQ," no surprise, contains the trifecta: an audio commentary track with Creator Vince Gilligan and Actors Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, RJ Mitte, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt, and John de Lancie; two deleted scenes (480p, 1:53); and Inside 'Breaking Bad' (480p, 3:51). Once again, applicable Inside 'Breaking Bad' segments are duplicated in the special features tab, too. Finally, the bulk of the material within the special features tab and visible but not playable on discs one and two is available for viewing on disc three, including the remainder of the Behind the Scenes (480p) segments: A Look Ahead (2:04), The Special Effects (3:15), The Props (4:31), The Sets (3:59), Locked in the Trunk (1:32), Inside the RV With Aaron Paul (3:04), and The Crew (3:29).
Moving along, disc three also contains The Writers' Lab -- An Interactive Guide to the Elements of 'ABQ' (1080p). This supplement begins with Creator Vince Gilligan guiding viewers through the scriptwriting process and the "board[ing] of the episode" that helps the writers realize the larger plot points of each episode. Viewers are then prompted to click on any of the four acts (minus the teaser) and then select one of several index cards, read the corresponding segment of the script, and then watch the completed scene from the show. Next up is the 'Better Call Saul' Commercial (1080p, 0:50) as seen in the show and a gag reel (480p, 3:52). Cop Talk With Dean Norris (480p) features the actor speaking with other law enforcement officials on several cop-related subjects: Cop Stuff (2:10), Chick Cops (2:09), Donuts (3:14), and Stakeout (3:09). Next up is Walt's Warning (480p, 2:46), a short piece featuring Actor Bryan Cranston and others speaking on the series' viral marketing campaign. This disc also contains six "Breaking Bad" "Webisodes," presented in 1080p: The Break-in (4:52), Good Cop/Bad Cop (2:55), Wedding Day (4:52), Twaughthammer (4:15), 'Fallacies' by Twaughthammer (3:05), and Marie's Confession (2:49). Rounding out this collection of extra materials is the Season 3 Sneak Peak (1080p, 2:20); Vince Gilligan's Photo Gallery (1080p); and 1080p trailers for "Breaking Bad," Michael Jackson's This is It, 2012, The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day, Black Dynamite, and Universal Soldier: Regeneration.
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Breaking Bad" doesn't suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump; though it's a bit slow out of the gate, the final ten or so episodes return to the brilliant form of season one with plenty of heart-stopping suspense, heartfelt drama, heartwarming comedy, and heartbreaking developments. Indeed, "Breaking Bad" is a show with plenty of heart but, more importantly, a soul that speaks to its audience like few shows before it and on a myriad of timely and pertinent issues, from the strength of family to the importance of honesty, from the value of life to the meaning of life itself. While certainly one of the most entertaining, enthralling and addicting shows on television, "Breaking Bad" also expertly weaves in morality tales that are honest and not sugar-coated, the show never shying away from the harsh consequences not only on a life turned upside down but on the world -- and the world-at-large as things may be -- around it. "Breaking Bad" is the thinking man's version of "Weeds;" Vince Gilligan's show is better scripted, acted, and realized, and if the third season -- which premiers on AMC television on March 21, 2010 and hopefully followed by a prompt Blu-ray release -- and beyond prove just as good as what's been explored and realized in seasons one and two, "Breaking Bad" may very well break towards shows like "The Sopranos" and be remembered as one of the best of the best. Sony's Blu-ray release certainly does this fine show proud, the studio delivering a solid transfer, and exceptional lossless soundtrack, and a wealth of bonus materials. "Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season," as does its predecessor, comes highly recommended.
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Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
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