Bryan Cranston must’ve been grateful to the acting gods when Breaking Bad came his way. As the put-upon husband and father in sitcom Malcolm In The Middle, Cranston had fine comic timing, but his command of drama wasn’t evident.
The role of cancer-stricken High School chemistry teacher-cum-drug-kingpin Walter White is therefore something of a gift, and one Cranston runs with.
His changed appearance from Malcolm is one thing, but he’s also raised his game as an actor – drawing out not just the comedy from his character and unusual situation, but also the fear and dread. His two Emmy wins so far for the role are worthy ones.
Walt’s initial plan was to put his chemistry knowledge to use and team up with former student (and drug dealer) Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), to create a potent form of crystal meth.
The money from selling drugs would then provide for Walt’s pregnant wife and disabled son after he’s gone. Naturally, it’s a situation that isn’t without its dangers, especially when your brother-in-law (Dean Norris) works for the Drug Enforcement Agency...
This second season is structured in a series of mini-arcs that work well with the way the episodes are grouped across these four discs.
Beginning with the fallout from Walt and Jesse’s relationship with drug lord Tuco, the middle episodes have Walt asserting himself in both his drug activities and the domestic sphere, while the closing section sees him descend into a new hell.
Running through the middle is a rich vein of humour, largely via the introduction of crooked lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).
Not all of the copious extras were available to review, but the discs include detailed commentaries on four episodes from series creator Vince Gilligan (The X-Files), alongside cast and crew members.
Around 12 minutes of deleted scenes offer varying value, while 13 behind-the-scenes featurettes are interesting.
It’s a shame that the six webisodes are only mildly enjoyable and less-than-vital, although any additional material to back up a show that manages to fit so snugly into 13 episodes each season is gladly welcomed.
Fantastic discs that do justice to a fantastic series, ideal for DVD overdosing across a lost weekend.