TV is pretty crappy at the moment. The Walking Dead is on it’s mid-season break, the same with Doctor Who, I have to wait for a few more months before I can watch season 2 of Game of Thrones (I REFUSE to watch it online) and shooting for Sherlock has been delayed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve filled my time before with some awesome TV box-sets. I watched the entirety of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes over the summer holidays as well as HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Recently Lost has become a weekly staple of University life. I’d also spent a lot of time watching a (rather eclectic) mix movies over the recent holidays, Gangs of New York, Last Man Standing, L.A. Confidential and Memento to name a few. But dammit I needed a new show! After reading the rave reviews and seeing reference after reference to it online, I decided that new show should be Breaking Bad, and what a brilliant show it turned out to be.
I mean I knew from the reviews that this series would be good, I just didn’t know HOW good. The protagonist is Walter White played by Bryan Cranston. I’ll talk about him first. Everybody reading this (EVERYBODY) should recognize Bryan Cranston as Hal from Malcolm in The Middle. If not, click this link to refresh your memory. Ok, remember, now? Good! Now let me just say that Bryan Cranston is AMAZING in the role of Walter White. You never think “Gee, that guy was Hal” you always know that this guy is Walter White. Walt himself is an interesting character, The shows begins with him turning 50. You get the feeling he’s going through an inner mid-life crisis, but he never discusses it. He has a boring life as a high school chemistry teacher and you mainly just feel sorry for him. His life takes a turn for the even worse however when Walt finds out he has terminal lung cancer. This is the thing about Walt, he is just so unlucky. He doesn’t smoke or do anything bad in his life yet he ends up with lung cancer. This leads Walt to start making meth, to make some substantial cash for his family.
Making meth is not as absurd as it sounds, as Walt is a genius in the field of chemistry and as a result can make the best crystallized methamphetamine that anyone has ever seen. His brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) is a DEA agent. Through a failed drug bust on which he tags along, Walt meets up with one of his ex-students Jesse Pinkman. Jesse goes under the name “Captain Cook” and really spurs Walt’s idea of making meth. They soon make an “agreement” and begin to make meth together. Jesse Pinkman is played by Aaron Paul who, like Cranston, does a brilliant job. Jesse is almost the opposite of Walt, he’s cool (or at least he acts cool) and speaks by adding a “Yo” to the end of nearly every sentence. The two of them have an amazing amount of chemistry (pun definitely intended) between them. For nothing else, the show is worth watching for these two performances alone. I could watch Walt and Jesse argue about meth for hours and not get bored.
That isn’t to say the rest of the cast aren’t good. They are VERY good. There is no weak link. Walt’s wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) is no slouch either, and she is not the boring housewife many may expect. Two more of my personal favourite characters are Walt’s brother-in-law and DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) who is pretty much the opposite of Walt. He’s manly and strong and it seems that sometimes Walt’s son, Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) looks up to him more than his own father, he gets arrested at one point and calls Hank to bail him out instead of Walter. Another favourite is the insane psychopath Tuco (Raymond Cruz) who, although being introduced rather late on in season 1, is one of the most unnerving, surprising and intense yet funny villains I’ve ever seen. The whole cast is great, and it’s enjoyable watching them all.
I rented the first disc of season 1 of LoveFilm and after watching the first 3 episodes me and my brother went ahead and just bought the first four seasons. It hooks you from episode 1 and once you get it into it doesn’t slow down. I’d do an overview of all 7 episodes but it’s be difficult without spoilers. My favourite episode is episode 6 “Crazy Handful Of Nothin”
This is when shit hits the fan (which is saying something seeing as Walt kills 2 people in previous episodes) and things just about start going right for Walt. He shaves his head in this episode and becomes the bad-ass that I’d seen through various forums and GIFs online. This episode has one of the tensest scenes I’ve seen on television and ends with a great payoff.
The whole series is intense and it takes it’s time to show us how Walt is dealing with these situations in a very human way, One great example is when Walt tries to escape two dealers; Emilio and Krazy-8. He kills Emilio but Krazy-8 lives. Jesse and Walt must decide who must dispose of the body and who must kill Krazy-8, so they do something everyone may do in that situation; they flip a coin. Walt must kill him but it takes him a few episodes to make his mind up, but it never feels slow. Bryan Cranston really shines playing the every-man, he makes it so easy to imagine how difficult it must be to make this decision, whether or not he should take a life. And when he finally does decide it’s almost heart-wrenching to watch. Jesse’s job to dispose of the body is no easy task either. Throughout the series you can an idea that Jesse is getting better and actually begins to agree with Walt. At first he goes about doing things HIS way, and he takes shortcuts to find an easy solution. Early on in the series when he must get rid of the body, Walt tells him to buy a plastic container to put the body in, then they will dissolve the body with hydrofluoric acid. Jesse takes the easy way out and dissolves the body in his bathtub and the result is disgusting and hilarious in equal measure.
The thing about season 1 of Breaking Bad is that I’d been warned that it’s slower than others and perhaps a little difficult to get in to. I didn’t find that at all, and if this is considered to be the showing getting better and finding it’s feet then I can’t wait for the other 4 seasons. I’ve not mentioned it enough in this review but the series can be laugh out loud funny in some scenes, but the whole series is offbeat and darkly funny. It’s quickly becoming one of my favourite shows (watch out The Walking Dead!) and I’m going to dive straight into season 2 as soon as I can. It’s as amazing as the reviews have said and is somehow not over hyped at all (I’m looking at you Game of Thrones) It may not be for everyone but if you want a dark, funny and smart series to watch, do yourself a favour and buy the box-set of Breaking Bad. You will most definitely not regret it.