Breaking Bad’s Belatedly Breakneck Bow on Blu-ray and SoHo

One of the best reasons to subscribe to SoHo starts 8.30 tonight on Sky’s premium HD drama channel: season five of Breaking Bad.

After years of lagging behind the US, NZ fans of this Emmy-winning sensation about a chemistry teacher who becomes a P dealer are poised to catch up.

When season five ends, SoHo will start screening the final eight episodes within days of AMC.

I believe this will be the first time Breaking Bad’s screened here in HD. Although the first season aired on TV3, I think that was before the network switched to HD.

There’s good news for non-SoHo subscribers who want to see Breaking Bad in HD: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release season five on Blu-ray on July 10.

Hopefully, it will have all of the extras of the US edition after NZ buyers of season four on Blu-ray were cheated of multiple US extras, mostly commentaries.

A Sony spokesperson told the discrepancy was due to the stock being sourced from Australia.

“The extra content all comes down to the masters that Sony receives – the material/content that they use to make the DVD and Blu-ray.

“Because Australia released [season four of] Breaking Bad before the US, the additional added value was not ready.

“Our stock is manufactured in Australia and therefore our materials are the same, regardless of the difference in release date.”

Meanwhile, it’s a pity SoHo isn’t as up-to-speed with its scheduling of two other terrific Sony Pictures series: Justified and Damages (which ended its fifth and final season on Monday on TV One).

Whereas SoHo’s jump-starting Breaking Bad from season five, it’s going back to the beginning of the others, which means fans won’t begin to catch up with US broadcasts of Justified until next year.

And that will delay Justified’s season three Blu-ray release until early next year (it’s been out in Australia since March).

Given all of Damages’ five seasons have screened on TV One, SoHo’s use of it as a library staple (as it’s done with The Wire) in a weekly 9.30 Wednesday slot from July 24 is understandable — even if it’s already aired the first season in SD.

But fans of an ongoing series like Justified — and SoHo subscribers who pay an extra $10 a month for a premium service — deserve better than for it to start from episode one (9.30 Tuesdays from June 25) when the first two seasons already have screened twice on TV One.

In the meantime, US reviewers were ecstatic about Breaking Bad’s fifth season: “a radical type of television, and also a very strange kind of must-watch: a show that you dread and crave at the same time” (The New Yorker); “it might be 16 of the best upcoming hours on television” (New York Daily News); and, “taut, efficient and directed with a scalpel, Breaking Bad remains a marvel” (Newsday).

But of all the acclaim, arguably the most trenchant was The Hollywood Reporter’s: “It’s not a matter of wondering if Breaking Bad will be great, but where in the pantheon it will ultimately reside.”

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