News Column

'Breaking Bad' coming in final-season box, and a Blu-ray of the complete series

November 25, 2013

YellowBrix

The curtain comes down once more on "Breaking Bad."

While the series ended its run on AMC some time ago, the last batch of telecasts arrives Tuesday on DVD (Sony, eight episodes, $55.99) and Blu-ray / digital ($65.99). The package is being called "The Final Season," which may puzzle everyone who considers these final eight shows to be the second half of the fifth and final season. (AMC aired the first eight in July and August 2012, then the second eight from August to September this year.) But since Sony already released the first eight in a package labeled "The Fifth Season," the "Final Season" tag may simply be a way to distinguish the new set from the older one.

In any case, these eight make up some of the best work ever done by "Breaking Bad," the saga of Walter White, the cancer-ridden chemistry teacher who made a fortune manufacturing meth _ and tossed aside just about all his ethical limits in the process.

The DVD includes deleted and extended scenes, audio commentaries, making-of pieces and an alternate ending which leaked briefly onto the Internet before Sony had it pulled.

Fans may also want to consider "Breaking Bad: The Complete Series," a Blu-ray / digital package retailing for $299.99, which also arrives Tuesday. "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan has said he's extremely proud of the package, and he went so far as to open up one and show off all the features on YouTube. (Go there and search for "Vince Gilligan UnBoxing Breaking Bad" to watch.)

Besides including all 62 episodes of the series, the package is shaped like one of the barrels of money so important to the series. There are other visual elements as well, plus all the extras from the previous DVD / Blu-ray releases _ and a new, two-hour-plus documentary about the making of the series. Sounds like a perfect invitation to some binge viewing.

Lindsay Lohan's many attempts to revive her flagging career included the film "The Canyons" (IFC Films, $24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray), a self-described "sexually charged thriller" from acclaimed writer-director Paul Schrader, here directing a script by Bret Easton Ellis. The experience was not a good one for Schrader, based on published accounts, and Lohan declined to do publicity for it. But none of that prepared me for how thoroughly awful it is, slow in pace and dialogue, and unimpressive in its choice of leading man, the adult-film actor James Deen. Still, if you have 99 minutes free and a need for some cinematic agony, this is it. And IFC is releasing it both in an R-rated version and, for Blu-ray, an unrated cut.

Also of note: Lionsgate will try to ease your gift-giving woes with a bunch of titles on Blu-ray in what it calls "highly collectible Steelbook packaging with a Digital HD UltraViolet copy," plus extras. The 11 sets _ sold exclusively through Best Buy _ are "Pulp Fiction," "Total Recall," "Sin City," "Kill Bill Vol. 1," "Kill Bill Vol. 2," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Rambo: First Blood," "Stargate," "Highlander," "Hero" and one package with "Apocalypse Now" and "Apocalypse Now Redux." Each set retails for $19.99.

Down video road: "All Is Lost," the movie starring Robert Redford and written and directed by J.C. Chandor, will be available on Video On Demand and Pay Per View on Jan. 21, then on DVD, Blu-ray and digital on Feb. 11. Redford plays a man battling alone to survive at sea after his yacht is severely damaged. There's Oscar talk around the film, especially for a best-actor nomination for Redford, who has won as a director but never as an actor.

Also down the road is "Hawaii Five-O: The Complete Series" (CBS/Paramount, $349.99), a collection of the 12 seasons of the original series starring Jack Lord, plus extras. But some fans of the show have taken issue with that "complete" in the title. And the back of the box plainly states that a Season 2 episode, "Bored, She Hung Herself," "has not been re-broadcast or released in any manner since its original airing and is not included in this collection." The package bases that decision on "viewer reaction following the original telecast."

As the Honolulu Star-Bulletin noted when the episode was left out of the second-season "Five-O" DVD, it "was about a Five-O investigation into the supposed suicide of a woman by auto-asphyxiation, which she was practicing as part of a health regimen. A viewer reportedly died trying the same technique." Hence the pulling of the telecast from future presentation.

But that second-season set did not call itself "complete," while the new box set does. The distributor might have been better off calling this a megaset _ which would still apply considering the package has 73 discs.

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Rich Heldenfels: rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com

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(c)2013 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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