You can’t always trust first impressions.
So there’s this show. It’s apparently about drugs. Dwelling on the drug culture, watching shiftless, troubled kids get high. Violence, death. Sounds depressing. My impressions led me to say, this isn’t quite like the way I’d want to spend an hour at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. MAD MEN, yes, absolutely. But not this. And so I never tuned-in to BREAKING BAD.
Meanwhile, friends would recommend various shows to me. DEXTER, THE WIRE, ROME, HOMELAND, BOARDWALK EMPIRE. I tried but couldn’t get into BOARDWALK EMPIRE. The others, particularly HOMELAND, I definitely will be checking out.
As BREAKING BAD was available via Netflix Instant, I broke down and gave Season 1, episode 1 a try. And so there was this desperate-looking, middle-aged guy in his underwear, standing in a desert next to a beige RV. Well, I don’t know. But by the end of the show, I was a little bit intrigued. At the conclusion of episode 2, I was hooked forever.
That was about seven weeks and 40 episodes ago. Last night I watched episode 6 of season 4 (seasons 1-4 are available on Netflix and elsewhere; season 5 is currently running on AMC, and will be the show’s last ).
I can’t imagine having one-week interludes between new installments, let alone waiting nearly a year for a new season. Well, actually I don’t have to imagine that, because it is actually what I’m currently doing with the aforementioned MAD MEN.
Actor Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White (aka “Heisenberg”, the lead character in BREAKING BAD) is truly terrific. Basically just a regular guy, his deadpan, slightly annoyed-and-perturbed, slow-boil style is a hilarious and tense contrast to his angry young partner Jesse (Aaron Paul). It gets even better with Walt’s son (RJ Mitte, who, like his character, Walt, Jr., has mild cerebral palsy), Walt’s wife (Anna Gunn) and a great supporting cast.
Like with Norman Bates or Tony Soprano, it’s amazing how the human mind can often feel sympathy for a person who is doing bad things, if we know their life story and their motives. The disturbed Norman, of course, loved his mother to the point where he’d kill on her behalf. Tony was a real family guy, but he was raised to see murder and mayhem as the cost of doing business in Jersey. In Walter White’s case, his overriding desire is to provide for his wife and son.
At a dead-end, part-time job at a car wash, and in a thankless role teaching bored high school students chemistry, Walt finds an opening to use his skills to finally make something people really want. At the same time, Walt, like some spreading disease, has caused a chain reaction that affects many people–not always in good ways–and he has learned how to lie, to everyone. And to lie on top of lies. He is finally getting respect, and he’s making something of himself at last. But what is that “something”? I’m on my way to finding out.
Without spoiling anything, a clip from the show; a glimpse into the premise and tongue-in-cheek style of BREAKING BAD: