7 Aug 2010

Breaking Bad

From the premiere of The Sopranos in 1999 up until the climax of The Wire in 2008, HBO ruled the American airwaves with a seemingly never-ending stream of hit shows. However since these, the two most critically-acclaimed shows in TV history, have ceased to exist, a young upstart named AMC has stolen some of its thunder, and the attention of the mainstream press to boot.

You may have heard of Mad Men, AMC’s multi-award winning pride and joy, but less well known, though equally deserving of your time is Breaking Bad, their other major series. A prodigious scientist, working as a chemistry teacher in an Albuquerque high school, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Conscious of how his astronomical medical bills will cripple his family, and desperate to leave something behind for

his pregnant wife and physically disabled son he decides to start selling crystal meth with a former student. Welcome to the world of Walter White and the Emmy-winning Breaking Bad, one of the more fascinating American TV series to emerge in recent years. After a gripping first season was brought to a premature end by the 2007/2008 Writer’s Guild of America strike, season two picks up where it left off in breathtaking fashion. Like those famous HBO shows, Breaking Bad is defined by tremendous acting, quality scripts, and beautiful direction far superior to 99% of all films currently being made. Bryan Cranston, better known as the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle, is a revelation as the aforementioned Walter White, and the series truly belongs to him. Walter begins the show as a meek and mild-mannered intellectual, but his diagnosis turns him into a seething mass of hostility, impatience, and misplaced pride, and these characteristics will become more and more pronounced as the series progresses and he delves deeper and deeper into a world for which he was never made. His achievement in bringing Walt to life is astonishing, and one of many reasons why Breaking Bad is one of the most innovative and imaginative shows in TV history, and is the perfect prescription for anyone still suffering from a post Sopranos depression.

Matthew Kleebauer

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