All seven episodes of the blackly comic drama series starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher in the throes of a midlife crisis who discovers that he is dying from inoperable lung cancer. In an attempt to sort out his disastrous financial affairs he decides to turn to crime, and enlists the help of a good-for-nothing ex-student to set himself up as a crystal meth dealer. Episodes are: 'Pilot', 'Cat's in the Bag', '... And the Bag's in the River', 'Cancer Man', 'Gray Matter', 'Crazy Handful of Nothin'' and 'A No-Rough-Stuff-Type-Deal'.
No one would confuse the desperate dad Bryan Cranston plays in this character-driven drama with the fun-loving Hal from Malcolm in the Middle. In Breaking Bad
, Walter White lives in the suburbs with his wife--and wears tighty-whiteys--but the similarities end there. During the pilot, the cash-strapped chemistry teacher finds out he has inoperable lung cancer. He and Skyler (Deadwood's Anna Gunn) have one son, Walter Jr. (R.J. Mitte), and a daughter on the way. With two years to get his affairs in order, Walter comes up with a wild plan: he and former student Jesse (Aaron Paul), a drug dealer, will open a meth lab.
In the hands of creator Vince Gilligan (The X-Files
), Bad's first season plays like the improbable offspring of Weeds
and The Shield
. With nothing left to lose, the Albuquerque 50-year-old uses his death sentence as a catalyst to break every rule he's ever followed while keeping his family--including Skyler's radiologist sister, Marie (Betsy Brandt), and her DEA agent husband, Hank (Dean Norris)--out of the loop. Throughout these seven episodes, Walt takes on a hostage, a dead body, and a partner who likes to sample his own product. Based on the description alone, it shouldn't work as well as it does, except Gilligan and company keep the situations psychologically believable and Emmy winner Cranston makes Walt surprisingly sympathetic as he swings between compassion and self-interest. As he tells his students, "Chemistry is the study of change", a statement that applies equally well to the show, since Walt ends up in a very different place than where he began. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
--This text refers to an alternate