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Better Call Saul: Season Three (Blu-ray Review)

Better Call Saul won’t be returning until the summer, but this Season Three Blu-ray from Sony is arriving to give you plenty of time to catch up or revisit and dig into its extras in time for the fourth season. The show has continued on from its predecessor in slowly connecting us to the events of Breaking Bad while also holding on to the same sort of prestige and acclaim, including 10 Emmy nominations in this third season alone. This set comes with a commentary on every episode and a nice set of featurettes digging you deeper in the lore and design on this series. You also get a digital copy code for the whole season, too. Make sure you go to the Amazon link and click it to pre-order yourself a copy and have it right there at your door on January 16th when it releases.

Season 

The acclaimed second season of Better Call Saul ended with a pair of cliffhangers: determined to prevent his brother from practicing law, Chuck staged an elaborate con, secretly recording Jimmy’s confession to a felony, and when Mike set his sights on sociopathic cartel boss Hector Salamanca, an ominous intervention stopped him from pulling the trigger, raising questions as to what other dangerous players may be in the game.  As Season Three begins, the repercussions of Chuck’s scheme test Jimmy and Kim’s fledgling law practices – and their romance – as never before. Jimmy’s faltering moral compass is pushed to the limit, leading to a shattering climax. Meanwhile, Mike searches for a mysterious adversary, which brings him to the doors of Los Pollos Hermanos, and into the orbit of the enigmatic Gus Fring.

Jimmy McGill itches ever closer to becoming the full on Saul Goodman character we were introduced to him as in the second season of Breaking Bad. In fact, the name and an iteration of Saul Goodman pops up in this weighty, intense dramatic season of the show. Some of the old faces of Saul’s acquaintance like the overarching villain of the prior series, Gus Fring return or moreover are introduced to us in the third season. And with many of the introductions, it almost signifies that a certain, unseen clock has begun to start ticking toward the inevitable end of this series where the other begins.

While I’ve said all the way that I think Saul plays so well, that you needn’t have seen one episode of Breaking Bad to enjoy it to a high degree; having that prior knowledge is an added bonus. Having not seen it, rooting for Jimmy McGill while witnessing him do bad things at the behest of his nasty older brother while watching Kim Wexler innocently stand up for him can conflict a viewer and really bring a sense of suspense that few shows can offer. Knowing the future, knowing that Kim Wexler as well as other characters have no place on Breaking Bad, really brings an extra sense of fear in wondering what we will see happen to them. And I’m not saying death, but eventually we are going to have to watching some trying and difficult scenes and events of relationships and friendships coming to horrible ends. Saul Goodman has managed to give us what we loved about watching Walter White, but in a completely different way and a show that really is in the universe but has its own style.

Better Call Saul continues to be one of televisions absolute best year in and year out. Not only does it enrich the world of Breaking Bad, but as a standalone effort its marvelous enough in its own right. I honestly believe that having seen Breaking Bad is not a mandatory pre-requisite for watching this show; merely an added bonus. It could be watched blindly and enjoyed to a very high degree without having seen the series that takes place afterward. That’s the sign of a great prequel, and this may be one of the greatest “before the thing you loved” storytelling of all time. It may sound weird, but its not backhanded and only genuine praise that this show is great on its own and will likely stand tall being as good as Breaking Bad by the time it finishes.

Episodes

Mabel

Witness

Sunk Costs

Sabrosito

Chicanery

Off Brand

Expenses

Slip

Fall

Lantern

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Season Three continues on with the beautiful image and motion picture quality that has come with the previous two sets. Its a nice jump from the broadcast look with a much crisper and fluid looking image with a much richer look in its colors. The image is bold and well detailed, showing really nice looks at the textures and patterns on all of the fancy suits as well as things like carpet, tables and other objects. Its a really beautiful looking image.

Depth:  Good depth of field with the characters looking free and loose in every environment. Movements are smooth, fluid and natural. No distortions really noticeable.

Black Levels: Blacks are really well saturated and rich. They get really deep in dark rooms, and many of the scenes in Chuck McGill’s home look really wonderful. Detail holds strong enough and disappears where intended. No crushing was witnessed in this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are really a highlight of this release. There are many colorful pieces of clothing, shirts, ties, suits, blouses, drapes, pool balls a pink bakery box and such that really burst and pop off the screen. Another strength are the regular rustic browns, grays and such. Lamp light in Michael McKean’s study in one moment look quite awesome.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain an consistency from episode to episode. Details like lip texture, wrinkles, dried skin, make-up, glossy/oily foreheads and more come through perfectly clear.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digtal, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish

Dynamics: Better Call Saul is a rather straight drama, but it will contain action sequences with guns and car crashes throughout the season. This 5.1 track tracks things accurately with great sound engineering and wonderful ambiance to bring every environment to life. There is a good balance and nice intricate and detailed sound effect work, layering it into lifelike quality.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Gunfire, doors shutting, soundscape hits and other noises will bring the subwoofer to a good boom.

Surround Sound Presentation: Saul is mostly focused on a front-heavy approach with accurate movements and placement. The rear channels aren’t lying dormant, but they primarily provide ambiance while at times having activity where appropriate for unique sounds.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are the bread and butter of this track and they promote a crisp and loud clarity throughout.

Extras 

Better Call Saul: Season Three is a 3-Disc Blu-ray set that comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of every episode.

Disc 1

Mabel

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Vince Gilligan, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Marshall Adams
  • Gene of Omaha (HD, 7:41) – This discusses the flash forward character that Saul becomes post-Breaking Bad that tends to prologue the seasons and some of the episodes.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, :51) 

Witness

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Vince Gilligan, Thomas Schnauz, Nina Jack, Robin Sweet and Jenn Carroll
  • The Return of Gus Fring (HD, 6:37) – This little featurette highlights the return of one of Breaking Bad’s ultimate big villains and picking the right moment in the series to bring him in.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 2:01)

Sunk Costs

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, Melissa Bernstein, Mark Johnson, Nina Jack and John Shiban.

Gag Reel (HD, 4:35)

Disc 2

Sabrosito

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Thomas Schnauz, Jonathan Glatzer, Michael Mando, Jennifer Bryan and Sharon Bialy
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 6:21)

Chicanery

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Vince Gilligan, Gordon Smith, Daniel Sackheim, Michael McKean and Skip Macdonald.

Off Brand

  • Audio Commentary with Vince Gilligan, Ann Cherkis, Keith Gordon, Patrick Fabian, Nick Forshager and Larry Benjamin.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 5:03) – One includes an introduction by Executive Producer Peter Gould and the other is the full Saul commercial.

Expenses

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Thomas Schnauz, Robin Sweet, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn

Disc 3

Slip

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Heather Marion, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando and Thomas Golubic.

Fall

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Melissa Bernstein, Gordon Smith, Minkie Spiro, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, :51)

Lantern

  • Audio Commentary with Peter Gould, Vince Gilligan, Michael McKean, Dave Porter and Desa Larkin-Boutte.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 1:26)

Its A Bad, Bad World (HD, 9:59) – This focuses on the Breaking Bad world and the integration of the characters from that show. There are people who work just primarily on continuity of the “Breaking Bad Bible” to make sure certain characters would run into each other or where they would be in this show’s timeline. It also highlights on a Bryan Cranston visit to the set as well.

Signs of Saul (HD, 6:35) – The start of Jimmy McGill beginning his transition into Saul Goodman this season is discussed by cast and crew in this featurette.

In Conversation: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks & Rhea Seehorn (HD, 8:46) – This appears to be filmed sometime during the commentary recordings with the shows three leads just sort of shooting the shit about the third season.

Los Pollos Hermanos Training Videos (HD, 15:30) – “Communication”, “Cleanliness”, “Shipping and Receiving”, “Customer Service”, “Code of Conduct”, “Loss Prevention”, “Sustainability”, “Brand Management”, “Conflict Resolution”, “Emergency Situations”

Summary 

In its third seasons, Better Call Saul continues to easily be one of the best shows on television at time where great television is not hard to find. This Blu-ray set has quite an awesome performance in both audio and video. Importantly, it contains a nice slew of legitimately interesting and fun extras to digest afterward. A high recommend on the show, an easy recommendation on this Blu-ray set.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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