The equivalent of tomes have already been written on the virtues of AMC's "Breaking Bad," so with the June 3 release of the epic Blu-ray box set of the entire series, it seems appropriate to focus less on what we already know -- that, duh, the show's good -- and more on what goodies can be plundered in the set's extensive special features.
While each episode has a commentary track to accompany it, there's also a bonus disc specifically geared toward the lead-up to the second half of Season Five, also known as the Final Eight. Here are a few of the highlights:
-"Shocking Moments": As viewers we love to endlessly discuss and debate the moments from our favorite shows that completely broadsided us. But it's easy to forget that the cast from these shows undergoes a double-take when confronted with a first glimpse of upcoming episode scripts. Here everyone from Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris and more weigh in on what moments from the series threw them for a loop. Not too surprisingly, child deaths take the cake -- Walt's Lily of the Valley poisoning of a young boy, and Todd's shooting of a child on a bike. And the first major shocker for most of the actors was Walt brutally letting Krysten Ritter's character, Jane, die a death by overdose.
-"From Walt to Heisenberg": This edited feature cuts together all of Walter White's (in)famous quotes and moments throughout his transformation from passive, mild-mannered chem teacher to mastermind criminal. It's a fascinating walk down memory lane for those who haven't watched the first few seasons in several years. Not only does it emphasize how radical of a change Walt undergoes, it also reiterates Cranston's versatility as an actor.
-"Storyboard Comparisons": Action-heavy sequences like Season Four's "Truck Attack" (remember when Mike gets the tip of his ear shot off?), and Walt calmly and deliberately blowing up the red Dodge Challenger (also Season Four), have nifty side-by-side comparisons of how the sequences were storyboarded and then actually filmed.
-"Scene Envy": There's always one juicy scene that got away. Cranston says that "as a red-blooded American male" he wishes he could have taken part in the strip club sequence from an early season (Paul got to enjoy that one); meanwhile, Paul wishes he could have squeezed his way into the instantly quotable "I'm the one who knocks" scene (he jokingly suggests Jesse Pinkman could have been written into the sequence, sitting on the couple's bed eating chips, while Walt yells at Skyler); and Norris just wanted more scenes with Paul.
-"Bad Memories": Not negative memories... "Bad" memories. This feature offers a fly-on-the-wall view of Cranston and Paul sitting down for a chat in early 2013 (with five episodes of the series still to go), discussing what they know and don't yet know about the Final Eight. For viewers who have seen the series from start to finish, this is a cool time capsule. Look out for Paul claiming he knows that Jesse Pinkman won't be in the finale. This is -- of course! -- false. But he really fools Cranston for a few moments.
-"No Half Measures: Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad": This two-hour documentary goes in-depth on the Final Eight, tracing the process from table reads at Albuquerque's Q Studios, to makeup and costuming, on-set filming footage and extensive interviews with showrunner Vince Gilligan, Cranston, Paul, Norris, Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, cinematographer Michael Slovis and director Michelle MacLaren, to name a few. Rian Johnson makes an appearance during the filming of "Ozymandias," which many fans identify as their top episode of the series.
And yes, the Blu-rays look great. For those of us (ahem) who watched the series from our laptops on Amazon, this is a whole new viewing experience.