From the GC Archives: TV Party Tonight ! 001

From the GC Archives: TV Party Tonight ! 001

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Monday, 19 December 2016
COLUMN

 

Breaking Bad The Final Season

Hello readers, and welcome to the first ever edition of TV Party Tonight! Here at Ground Control, we’re known mostly for our impeccable music coverage, but as of late, we’ve ventured into impeccable literary coverage and now impeccable movie and TV coverage. We’re turning into the AV club, I suppose, except with a less-manageable website.

Anyway, it’s not certain what route we will be taking with this column (whether we will be focusing more on TV shows or movies, or whether we will be focusing on current stuff or the classics that any music lover should watch), but rest assured, we’re going to give it our best shot.

We are lucky enough to start the column with the final season of Breaking Bad.

By now, I’m sure most readers know what the show is about, so let’s not dwell on that. Let’s focus instead on why Breaking Bad is such a great show. But where to start?

I started watching Breaking Bad because of the obvious reasons: buzz, recommendations, and Netflix. However, it quickly becomes apparent what makes Breaking Bad stand out, and it’s mostly because unlike other shows, we get rewarded for the investment we put into the show. While other shows focus on plots of suspended disbelief, one-dimensional characters with unjustified behavior, cheap laughs, ridiculous plotlines, senseless malevolence, and reestablishing the status quo at the end of each episodes, Breaking Bad instead has a story to tell, earns the respect of the viewers, adapts to the progression of the story, works with the motivation of the characters, contains genuine emotional highs and lows, moments of friendship and solidarity, and lets the characters dictate the results of events. Sometimes things happen over the arc of a season, and sometimes simply during an episode. We are both shocked and understand why the characters do the things they do. Added to that are the wonderful sceneries, the now-trademark camera shots and angles, and the great dialogue. Shows like this don’t come along very often, and it’s a testament to Breaking Bad why watching it makes one understand just how terrible the current state of television is. It’s not that TV is supposed to be the way it is and just be mindless fun, it’s that most shows nowadays don’t even try. Breaking Bad tries and succeeds.

So, there. That’s why the show is great. If you haven’t watched it, you should. If you have watched it, the idea of having to go through the emotional rollercoaster again is both tempting and terrifying.

Now, what about the Blu-ray set which we are reviewing here? Well, I’m happy to say that this collection of the “Final Season” was done exquisitely well. We have behind the scenes making-ofs, “alternative” endings, gag reels, a documentary on showrunner Vince Gilligan, each episode has a small intro by the cast and crew of what one should expect from the episode and a small behind-the-scenes segment on a particular part of the episode. In addition we get a special commentary track on each episode.

Now, on the commentary tracks. I will go ahead and say that I love commentary tracks and try to watch as many as I can. I feel like they are essential for a lover of cinema. So much so that I will hesitate to buy a version of a show or movie if it doesn’t have a commentary track. That said, some shows have absolutely horrendous commentary tracks. You would think you could just let the director, or actors ramble on and have a fun, entertaining, and enlightening audio track to accompany what you’re seeing. Yeah, you would be wrong. There are plenty of movies and shows out there (I will omit their mention here) that have boring, pointless, uninformative and infuriating commentary tracks.

Luckily, the “Final Season” of Breaking Bad has phenomenal commentary on all the episodes. It’s hard to say specifically why, but it could possibly be due to the fact that the cast and crew have chemistry together, the dialogue doesn’t seem forced, the right people seem to have been collected into the room to watch the episode, and everyone has something interesting and funny to say about the episode, the show in general, or their parts. In addition, we get the occasional revelation of a detail or two we never noticed before in an episode that adds even more layers to an already complicated show. Well done.

My only gripe with this Blu-ray set is that it’s promoted as the Final Season. This is not the case. This is the second half of the final season. It doesn’t matter that the second half aired a year after the first half. It is still the same season. The cast and crew refer to it as such (they call the first episode in this box set “Episode 9”) and the official numbers of the episodes in this box set are 9-16. So to market this box set as the Final Season is deceptive. But that’s just a small asterisk in what’s otherwise a great set.

Highly highly recommended.

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