The publicity for AMC drama Breaking Bad seems to be deliberately unappealing. A 50-year-old man in his Y-fronts holding a gun somewhere out in the desert is the polar opposite of aspirational. Maybe series creator Vince Gilligan had enough of photogenic stars when he worked on The X-Files. Aerial Telly was never really a fan of The X-Files ever since the episode where they had a stretchy man in an air vent. But he is happy to report that Breaking Bad is a very fine show – clever and darkly funny. They’ve gone with the “place your protagonist out of his depth and see if he swims” approach and it works just swell.
“Aerial Telly was never really a fan of The X-Files ever since the episode where they had a stretchy man in an air vent. But he is happy to report that Breaking Bad is a very fine show – clever and darkly funny. “
The man in the speedos is Walter White (Bryan Cranston) a middle-aged middle of the road chemistry teacher dealing with the regular teenager America schlubs who want nothing to do with chemistry. His world capsizes when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer . Having to provide for his pregnant wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) and their disabled teenage son Walt jnr (RJ Mitte), Walt decides that a life of crime is the way to go, setting up a high class meth lab with a small-time local drug dealer Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Well obviously – that’s what we’d all do, right?
“The chemistry teacher sells illegal chemicals while his body is being destroyed by chemical therapy – irony grows exponentially.”
As is often the case in these situations, Walt’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) is a DEA agent. He’s a shaven headed no-nonsense strike team type cop who just loves catching drug dealers. I’d be calling him Vic Spackey if Herc hadn’t already snatched up that title. Hank can spot a meth dealer a mile off but he’s not so good spotting the one right under his nose.
Using the magnificent Power of Chemistry, Walt is able to come up with some of the best meth ever created giving him a certain amount of clout in the drug game. Each week a different chemical helps tackle the problem du jour be it dissolving a dead body or causing an explosion and it’s always ingenious. It’s a lot like season one Prison Break with Walt tapping a seemingly boundless fount of weird science to achieve the impossible. The chemistry teacher sells illegal chemicals while his body is being destroyed by chemical therapy – irony grows exponentially.
“Of course, in real life they’d snatch your fucking arm off if you offered to pay for life-saving treatment. But no, in drama they start manufacturing and distributing hard drugs. “
Walt is a man on the edge. Dealing with the debilitating effects of chemotherapy, his distraught wife and the stresses of The Game, you feel he could blow at any minute. Once he gets on the expensive chemo he needs to stay dealing to pay for that. Because of course he won’t accept the charity that a rich friend offers. People in drama never accept charity – it’s just not done. Of course, in real life they’d snatch your fucking arm off if you offered to pay for life-saving treatment. But no, in drama they start manufacturing and distributing hard drugs. And thank Christ for that.
“Like Weeds it has a drug dealing suburbanite negotiating their way through the retail and wholesale of controlled substances.”
In a bizarre move AMC mute all the swear words. This is spectacularly patronising to the viewer and everyone now sees athat AMC have no balls and no heart. This is broadcast at 10 p.m. for the love of God. Fucking American Christians. Not to mention that they pixelate tits in the pilot. It’s like watching Japanese porno1
USA Today called Breaking Bad “The best thing to happen to television since the first season of The Sopranos” which is pushing it a touch but this is a really good show. Think Falling Down meets Weeds. Like Falling Down it has a middle-aged Middle American reaching breaking point, like Weeds it has a drug dealing suburbanite negotiating their way through the retail and wholesale of controlled substances. It’s a strong premise that they make the most of with no lazy or gimmicky threads creeping in. The writers strike limited the first season to 7 episodes but a second season has already been commissioned. I predict great things.
The best thing about it: The magic of chemistry.
The worst thing about it: Pixelated bongos. Seriously — what the fuck?
The verdict on Breaking Bad: Dude, your dorky chemistry teacher is like totally a drug dealer!
Marks out of 10: 8
1 Aerial Telly does not watch such nonsense. He has no need for Japanese porno. His entire life is like the highest class porn movie you ever saw.