Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Breaking Bad is good...

Benefitting from the writer's strike, and the extra chance at viewership afforded as one of the few new scripted shows, the new AMC show, Breaking Bad, is taking advantage. Bryan Cranston, former third banana on "Malcom and the Middle," as Walter White, is becoming my favorite new character on my favorite new show this year.

I have to admit that I may not have found this show if not for the lack of new shows on, or even gotten to it on my DVR Hard drive. I recorded it as a curiosity, and logged two episodes before we started watching. The last episode we watched right away, because this story, and these characters, especially Bryan Cranston as the school teacher gone wrong , are mesmerizing.

Bryan Cranston plays Walter White, who in the first episode, founds out he has terminal lung cancer and takes up cooking meth as a side business. His journey from beleaguered, over-whelmed everyman to meth-cooker is intriguing,
and not without consequences.

This story reminds me most of FX offerings like the Shield, and Rescue Me, there are no limits to where this story can go, already established in four episodes. No story line is safe, and there is no comfort bubble for the viewer to watch from.

The show avoids being predictable. In episode 3, Walter encounters an annoying lout at the bank after a particularly stressed exchange with his wife. All is in place for Walter to go off on this guy, as he had on a group of young punks in a department store in a previous episode, but he keeps cool. Still, you see him fuming beneath.

The whole scene is not left to be a red herring, because later in the show, after things have gotten even stickier, Walter re-encounters the jerk at a gas station. After the guy goes inside, he opens the hood of the expensive convertible the guy was driving, shorts out the battery with the handle of a window washer, at least it looked like that, and closes the hood. Momentarily, the car catches fire and blows up. This may not hold up on Mythbusters, but it was different enough, and not outside the curtain of believability.

This show is not easy watching, because as likable as Walter is, he is dismantling his life. The cast of supporting characters are far ranging, with vast potential for plot development. Walter's wife is constantly suspicious and nosy, with an enormous martyr His brother-in-law is a DEA agent, not coincidentally in charge of tracking down meth labs and dealers. His sister-in-law is a busy-body, sure to cluck her tongue at anything Walter does. and steadily judgemental.

The three of them hold court after the revelation of Walter's terminal illness as if he weren't even there and his wife begins her crusade for his cure without regard for Walter at all.

This is good writing, and acting, worth searching for on AMC.

1 comment:

Bob Andelman said...

You might enjoy this audio interview (and transcription) with Anna Gunn, co-star of “Breaking Bad” and “Deadwood.”