Breaking Bad: Seasons 1-5 review

Take a hit of these boxsets and you'll be hooked on the most addictive TV drama around

When underachieving chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, he comes up with an unusual plan to ensure that his family won't be left with crippling debt when he dies. Teaming up with former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), the duo start producing the purest crystal meth around.

It's a neat idea and one that employs a combination of smarts, humour and great acting to cook up a TV drama that is every bit as addictive as Walt's 'Blue Sky' narcotic.

Picture: All five seasons feature AVC 1.78:1 1080p encodes for their episodes. For the most part they're pretty comparable, boasting a stability and clarity that helps highlight fine detailing, while colours are bold and the grain structure appears natural.

However, two of the seasons don't hold up quite so strongly. Season One looks far grittier and darker than those that followed, with modest textures and rather lifeless colours. Presumably this is due to the filming conditions during the first year of production, which were subsequently given a boost when Breaking Bad became a runaway success.

Rather more troubling is Season Four, which delivers the most hit-or-miss transfers in the show's history. Sometimes it looks absolutely breathtaking, but at other times it's clear that noise-reduction technology has been applied with a rather heavy-hand. While this was presumably done to manage grain levels, it results in some sequences looking artificial.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Right from the start, Breaking Bad has delivered the goods when it comes to creating an immersive soundfield. Considering that so much of the show is simply people talking with (or shouting at) one another, the dynamics, directionality and bass present in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks here is nothing less than outstanding. Make no mistake about it: Breaking Bad is one of the best-sounding television series around.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: These five Blu-ray boxsets come loaded with extras. There's far too much to list, but episode commentaries by the cast and crew, deleted/extended/alternate scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, spoof commercials and photo galleries are just the tip  of the bonus feature iceberg.

However, there is a slight snag – and that's Season Four (again!). For some reason, the UK release drops a number of extras that appeared on the US Blu-ray; namely all 13 episode commentaries, four featurettes and 13 video podcasts. UK fans still enjoy a healthy pile of goodies, but that doesn't make the omission of those other extras any less disappointing.
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: Unmissable television drama given (mostly) five-star treatment on Blu-ray

Breaking Bad: Seasons 1-5, Sony Pictures, All-region BD (Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 5) and Region A/B BD (Season 4), £25-£35 each