breaking bad season 5.5

7

Breaking Bad - the Barrel

Format: 17 blu ray discs

Release Date: Dec 2013

Original Price: RRP £110, bought for £88 due to damaged packaging, last sold at £295 on eBay. And £599.95 on Amazon UK! 

Rating: ★★★★☆ Unobtanium 

This is a lovely set. In the same way The OC photobook suits that series perfectly, Walter Whites’ greedy barrel forms the basis of this stunningly realised set from Sony Home Entertainment. Who, you ask? Well exactly. I’m not familiar with Sony’s releases, and when they said ‘Amazon Exclusive Limited Edition’ I wasn’t going to chance waiting around for a sale on it. Thank god I didn’t, because this thing was gone before it was even released.

It was my main Christmas present in 2013 and I still don’t regret it. Now - a confession. The first time I pre-ordered it, I paid full price, £110. The demand for the item totally outstripped supply, (being a ‘limited edition’, the series having only recently ended and still being red hot) and it wasn’t long before the box set hit new levels of value. I sold my first set for £220, exactly double what I paid for it. I figured if it mattered that much to someone else, who was I to keep it from them (I was pretty poor at the time). Somehow I managed to keep an eye glued to the product page on Amazon (it was their exclusive whereas it was more plentiful in America, though more expensive!) and a Christmas miracle occurred when they sporadically added small quantities (cancelled orders perhaps) and I snagged another set right before the big Christmas day! 

That arrived with far less fanfare than the set I’d sold and shipped, without the protective bag, the barrel had most definitely rolled and accumulated scuffing to the case (see top pic). I asked Amazon what I could do, as the item was long gone again. They offered me £22 to keep it, which I wasn’t going to turn down. Like channeling Walter White, buying this boxset has actually made me money $$$. 

And isn’t that the spirit of Breaking Bad? All 5.5 seasons of the show are here, along with the exclusive bonus disc that I just couldn’t be without that contains a feature-length documentary of the making of the final half-season, winningly titled ‘No Half Measures.’ 

Fun anecdote about that final year; I’d been obsessively attached to it while in America that very summer,

  • mostly on an iPhone 5 screen through the summer camp Wi-Fi at 1am when I should have been in bed, 
  • seeing the ‘showdown’ episode in a cramped Midtown Manhattan ‘Holiday Inn’ and having to turn the TV set away from my friends who hadn’t watched it yet but would, my shocked face and desperation to talk to someone about it getting too much, 
  • and cumulating in watching the penultimate episode in a Williamsburg bar with a 200-strong crowd of fans, and 2 new Australian friends we’d met that week at Book of Mormon. This show was truly global, and everyone’s reaction to the episode were just as epic as the beats the show was hitting.)

I’m digressing, but you get the idea; this show was dynamite. It deserved the best collection it could get, and that’s what you get in this set. 

The discs get ported over from their individual releases, and they’re pretty good editions, with lots of commentaries and featurettes I’ve worked through. The thing I was worried about buying this set was losing the sumptuous artwork from each season. Luckily, this has all been retained on the double page spreads in the series guide booklet. I LOVE THAT THEY DID THIS and the artwork looks even better given landscape room to breathe here. 

Plus - magnets. MAGNETS! They used magnets to seal the barrel, and to encase the discs in their plastic holders. Not only that, but each plastic slide contains a cryptic illustration, which when combined with all slides from that season, forms an iconic image from that season. Place it in front of the disc art, and you have it’s original background too. Genius. 

Onto extra trinkets, Vince Gilligan’s opening letter was a nice touch, it was kind of what I and other fans needed going into the Breaking Bad-less world of 2014. The challenge coin is a nice weighty feature, and has an origin in them doing it annually for the cast and crew who made the show. There’s also a Los Pollos Hermanos apron which I’ve kept sealed in its money-branded container (the money is what you see when you take the lid off the barrel). 

I’m proud of Sony Entertainment for making this barrel. Only a show at the height of it’s powers could pull something like this off, and make it work. My first one might have been sold, but this one’s not going anywhere.