New to Blu: July 11-17 > TV & Toons

Good news at last for Breaking Bad fans: season three goes on sale today on both Blu-ray and DVD and industry-wide rather than exclusively to JB Hi-Fi, as happened belatedly with previous seasons.

It coincides with season four’s 10.15pm Thursday premiere on Four (albeit in SD), which was released last month on Blu-ray in the US.

Until now, the dynamite drama’s been treated shabbily both by broadcasters and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in this market.

But the simultaneous DVD/Blu-ray release of season three signals how much Blu-ray has gone mainstream since season one’s release and bodes well for a timely release of season four after its broadcast run.

While critics weren’t divided over the quality of the series, they did disagree over the calibre of the transfer.

Reviews ranged from “the fantastic 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer of season three is right on par with that of season two” to “a somewhat shaky, uneven, at times even disappointing 1080p transfer” and “though it looks very good, the transfer is not without some issues“.

But all agreed the audio the audio couldn’t be better: “Dialogue is mostly confined to the center channel and every word is clear and intelligible. The surround channels come alive during the action scenes and at times the audio is quite explosive.”

Bowing only a month after its US release is the final, eighth season of Entourage, which also earned divergent reviews.

“The video presentation is a mixed bag” …

“While it looks good most of the time, I’d have to concede that the Entourage seasons probably are the most average-looking video that HBO has put out.”

But “artifacting, banding, aliasing and other deal breakers aren’t a factor and distractions are few and far between. Like the series itself, Entourage‘s proficiently encoded high definition presentations go out on a high note.”

Also new are seasons two of Bored to Death (“definitely a step down in quality from the sublime video presentation on display in the first season set”) and Eastbound and Down (“an improvement visually from the previous season on Blu-ray, due to the fact that there isn’t as much of a discrepancy between episodes”).

July’s new anime Blu-rays include Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, seasons 1 and 2 of Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji)Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie – The Sacred Star of Milos and Okami-San and Her Seven Companions Collection.

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