on 13 August 2012
I'd heard about Breaking Bad from several co-workers of mine, who were proclaiming it as the greatest TV show of all time, and this was during it's second season, and they urged me at great lengths to purchase the initial Season on DVD. The first Season consists of only seven episodes, due to a writer's strike in America, but the seven episodes are so mindblowingly good that it would seem too short if there were one hundred episodes in the boxset.
The show follows the misadventures of Walter White, a chemistry teacher who finds out that he is suffering from terminal lung cancer, and in a misguided decision decides to 'break bad' in order to provide for his family once he has gone and turns his chemistry know-how into making scientifically pure crystal meth for his partner, one of his former students, to sell. With such a crazy premise, the show almost writes itself with the excellent juxtaposition of a mild-mannered science teacher turning into a Scarface-esque kingpin.
Rewatching this boxset in anticipation for the fifth (and final) season, I was struck by the amount of dark humour in these initial seven episodes. Where the plot has gotten more crime-heavy in the later seasons, the first season makes a lot of humour in the situation of Walter turning into a criminal. There are some really well-acted dramatic scenes there also, such as an emotionally charged 'intervention' to convince Walter to take chemotherapy.
Fans of crime-drama such as the Sopranos and The Wire, will find much to like here, as the show realistically approaches the subject material, but from a different angle. We have the uninitiated criminal finding himself becoming more and more corrupted by the underworld as he strives to earn money for a good cause. Walter's motiviations are very realistic, and whilst we might not all have the same chemistry know-how as he does, many of us would do anything to provide for our loved ones if we were in a similar situation.
All of the cast put in fantastic work, although some of the characters are more likeable than others. Hank, Walt's brother-in-law and DEA agent, is one of the more watchable characters, and while he comes across as one-dimensional at first, there are more complicated layers to his personality. Marie, his wife, however, is possibly the only character in the show who irritates the hell out of me, but as Jessica Rabbit once said, 'she's not bad, she's just written that way'.
While later series become more complex with more factions and drug lords introduced, this is a fantastical opening season to the series that quickly gets as acquainted with the characters and at only seven episodes long, eager for the second season where things just get a whole lot more complicated for Mr White. I fully agree with my co-worker's sentiment that this is quite possibly the best show on TV, narrowly edging out Dexter for a strong and realistic narrative with an enjoyable anti-hero to root for.
on 21 February 2015
A friend of mine had been ranting on about 'Breaking Bad' for months, about how good it was. Finally I got season 1 and was pleasantly surprised at how right my friend was, Breaking Bad is an awesome show that makes you laugh, makes you think and also can be quite sad at times.
I personally will be getting the rest of the seasons and recommend to anyone and everyone to give it a watch and see if they like it.
on 30 March 2012
And here come some more. Oh my God! This is, no contest, the most drop-dead, gasp for breath, shout at the screen, run-around-the-block-at-the end-of-every-episode in sheer exultation series I've ever seen on TV. It's a unique, sustained, tragi-comic masterpiece of the very highest quality - in any medium.
To put it in context, I adored the Sopranos from start to finish; my wife and I have watched the whole set several times, having accumulated all the disks from around season 4, when we first got hooked. Other programmes we've loved as a couple have been Huff: a delightful surprise and, in its time, another product of taking a chance with the Amazon reviewers of seemingly similar taste and being blown away by the quality of the work.
If it helps you into our mind-set, the same thing goes for Rome, in its way; and ditto for mutual matrimonial appreciation of Boardwalk Empire. Jimmy McGovern's The Street, Mad Men and the Andy Whitfield Spartacus also make it onto our conjugal video juke-box - although on slightly differing criteria, respectively.
So that's a couple of factors to frame my absolute respect for Breaking Bad and its creators: the fact that my wife loves it, too - and I trust you can see from the above that we're selective with our devotions - plus the rare justification of a same-breath mention with, above all, the Sopranos. Indeed, if the creators of Huff and the Sopranos teamed up with the Cohen Brothers... you might just about get into the quality zone established by Breaking Bad.
My gratitude goes to the combined deities of taste, luck and internet browsing for dropping me onto the Breaking Bad page a couple of months ago. It could have been one of the better "if you liked this" links; then the synopsis and reviews - at that point, intriguing and suggestive, rather than fully bought into.
Well, thanks Heavens for chance, informed guesswork and 1-Click! Because season 1 of Breaking Bad arrived soon thereafter. Still not entirely convinced that Sarah would go for it (actually at the "possibly" rather than "probably" point right then) I left it a couple of weeks before we ventured on the first episode...
...and that was it - hooked from the start! Amazing! Family narrative, left field content, a plot that never stops thickening, oblique ideas centre stage, difficult moments and material, hilarious comedy, quite astonishing action set pieces, suspense. And some of the longest conversations, effortlessly engaging, moving, touching, side-splitting and the rest, that TV has been brave enough to entertain for a long time. For me, it's the ultimate compliment; that is, a flawless, no compromise, sustained reciprocal compliment to the audience's intelligence. Combined with sheer entertainment value - and here we are getting into Shakespearian territory - Breaking Bad cannot be judged any less than, as I said, superlatively superlative! Oh, by the way, that's me doing the shouting, because I'm so excited. Please don't let me mislead you: my glee and enthusiasm is stirred by the quiet subtlety and sheer good taste that more accurately characterises Breaking Bad than my ravings do. My excuse for the hurrahs and eurekas is the comparative rarity of this level of artistic brilliance, well, anywhere nowadays.
It really is quite magnificent. Literally never a dull moment. With Breaking Bad, it's actually almost an "of course" paragraph to mention the cast (every single character selling every single line and moment to maximum, utterly authentic value); the overwhelming cinematic production values, photography, soundscape (glorious for home cinema), music - even the dressing of the actors - sublime editing. But it must be done; as the team assembled here, with the world-class writing they have to work with, pulls off some of the greatest televisual strokes ever accomplished.
I ordered season 2 after 3 episodes. These quickly followed by 3 and 4 from Amazon Germany (thanks again to Amazon contributors - yes, they come packaged for the German market but with pure English disks in the box). With just 2 episodes left, we've gone through all 4 series from start to end in one unbroken sequence. And, guess what; yes, we'll be starting all over again as soon as we've finished. It starts great and just keeps getting, miraculously, better. Superb.
This should be the most celebrated TV programme of all, by any fair standards. So, whatever: do yourself an unregrettable favour and join the comparatively rare but incomparably satisfied fan-base of this exquisite programme. Now, please.
on 12 April 2009
really enjoyed this show, just a pity the series was only 7 episodes.
Well scripted and brilliantly acted, this shows doesn't really fit into any genre easily. It's drama, but more than that. Recommend if you like The Wire, Sopranos, etc, or just enjoy intelligent, well-written TV that doesn't assume that you have the attention span of a goldfish.
on 14 May 2015
Struggling with this one. Bought it after Games of Thrones was over and we were looking for something to fill in the time before the next season of GOT. The acting is great and it is funny/shocking but for some reason only got to the second episode. Perhaps I just need to to persevere!!
on 21 July 2010
As an English person, it's normal to be presented with high quality American Television. Whether it be the action of 24, or the profanity-laced drama of Sopranoes, as a Brit you realise most of the top-end TV is being made across the Atlantic. Breaking Bad is no exception. I was pretty much hooked from episode one, and it did it all without high-octane action, mindless violence, expletives or gratuitous sex - and that's not to say Breaking Bad doesn't have those things, it just has them as part of a gripping, extremely well plotted story. That's the thing here, the balance of the story is truly superb. The development stages of the characters brilliant. The character dynamics excellent. Breaking Bad is a rarity, in that it goes back to good storytelling and characters before anything else. Tense, funny, shocking, moving - it's an absolute gem (or crystal, if you excuse the pun, you'll find out!). The premise is intriguing, and rewarding, with great acting throughout, and it has completely got me! Almost as addictive as meth being produced in that RV!
on 10 May 2012
I had not heard much about Breaking Bad, I took a chance. So glad I did. It really is one of the best American TV shows out there at the moment. I watch a lot of TV shows I find them more entertaining than movies, and Breaking Bad is a gem, probably up there in the top ten of the last 10 years.
To give a brief outline, Walter is a chemistry teacher and he knows his stuff!, he is like most people a hard working loyal family man, he has been hit by some hardships his health takes a turn for the worse and it is at that point he realises that with his average home, pay and life the treatment he will need will bury his family in so much debt that not only will he not get well and see his unborn child he will leave his family destitute.
His brother-in law is a DEA agent, and after seeing an enormous drug bust Walter comes up with a plan he enlists his ex high school pupil Jessie to help.
This is a story of desperation, family, and what a man has to do to survive, It is very dark in places, but has some purely magical moments which lift the mood and balance the show out. It has a real humour in the writing and the way the characters interact.
An outstanding series. which builds momentum, it is believable, and trust me you'll never look at camper vans in the same light after watching this!
on 28 August 2014
Very well made, original series that maintains its standards in subsequent seasons.
Nice to see a subject like chemistry being made potentially cool.
Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White who we first see as a High School Chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who once had greater ambitions as an industrial research chemist co-founding his own company, until he lost that chance by quarrelling with his then business partner.
When Walter is diagnosed with a fatal illness, knowing he has not made enough money as a teacher to provide adequately for his family after his death, using his ordinary, respectable job as a cover, he decides to use his scientific skills to make money fast and dangerously. He does so by secretly manufacturing the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine to an exceptionally high quality and purity compared to those previously offered by local drug dealers.
Aided by his former pupil, the volatile Jesse, played by Aaron Paul, Walter becomes drawn into a world previously foreign to him of drug dealing networks, money laundering and murderous drug barons, with whom he learns to co-operate and then compete, and shows he has a ruthless streak himself.
You might think Walter's original motive of making money to provide for his family after he is gone comes close to excusing what he does, yet the strains of leading a secret life threaten to break up his marriage and family. His need for money is also partly due to being too proud to ask his former business partner for help.
This means that although this programme is sufficiently well made that we can become involved enough to actually want Walter and his side-kick Jesse not to be caught, Walter is never fully likeable. The makers of this series intended it that way, as they, rightly, do not want us to go away thinking that supplying illegal drugs is a `cool' career choice. However, this also creates the one major weakness of `Breaking Bad' as entertainment: we can be interested in the central character and what he does, but we cannot really like him.
Hence, although Breaking Bad has won many awards, is interesting to watch and I recommend it, compared to another very good and original US crime related series of recent years that also has with a morally ambiguous hero, Dexter, while Breaking Bad may on balance be just slightly the better of 2 very good programmes for acting, directing and script writing, Dexter is just slightly more enjoyable to watch. If you can, watch both Breaking Bad and Dexter; but if you only see one, I personally would go for Dexter: Complete Season 1 [DVD].
I happened to come across this whilst randomly browsing on Amazon one evening. All I can say is, it's one of the best things I've seen for a long time. The writing is sharp, witty and clever and the acting is superb, as is the storyline.
The main character, Walter White, is played by Bryan Cranston (who plays Hal in Malcolm in the Middle). White is a high school chemistry teacher who is told he has terminal cancer. In response, he decides to do what he can to secure his family's financial future, and this is where the rulebook he seems to have adhered to his whole life, is thrown out with the trash. White uses what he knows best: his chemistry knowledge to make crystal meth and thus follows a chaotic, comedic and, at times, painful and tragic chain of events. White also seems to embark on a voyage of self-discovery; plus we discover things about his past, the decisions he made previously and how they impacted on his life, and the decisions he is making now, which are impacting on many others.
The supporting characters also add great humour and depth to the story lines. White is supported by his pregnant wife, Skylar, who has no idea about what is going on; his dopey DEA agent brother-in-law regales White with stories of crime crackdowns with no idea he is cohorting with a minor druglord and his hyper sister-in-law, Marie, has her own secrets. White's partner-in-crime, Jesse, is superbly played by Aaron Paul and the partnership is almost Laurel and Hardy at times.
Beneath the surface though, there is the reminder of what the drug scene is really about - the ruined lives, the violence, deaths, fear. We see two parallel and vastly different worlds existing side by side with White keeping a foot in each, trying desperately not to bring the two together.
'Breaking Bad' is black comedy at its best but beware it is quite gory in parts!
on 5 January 2012
Wow. Have just finished season 3. Can. not. WAIT to get my hands on season 4. Im not ususally a fan of US series (I have only seen the Sopranos and The Wire - both amazing) but this was recommended to me by a couple of friends - Id never heard of it and then I saw all the 5 star reviews on Amazon and I thought Id give it a go. Well, what can I say, this is one of the best tv series I have ever had the pleasure to view. It is so original and mental. Why the HELL has it not become bigger in the UK I do not know - I am still hopefull it will get the airing here it deserves and become more than a minor cult thing. I guess the subject matter (drugs and all the inherent dangers: ie taking them and manufactuing them etc) is perhaps a bit much for some.
I know its been said 100 times already but the acting, cinematography, direction etc are all superb. It is everything you want from a tv show: darkly funny, edge of the seat moments, great chemistry between characters and just great characters in general. One week I like Hank best, the next its gotta be Saul (such a great great character that brings a little light relief to the darkness). And then theres the fact you are rooting for Jesse and Walt, basically 2 morally corrupt individuals! The only (small) problem I have had with it is the main female characters: all a bit annoying, weak and not big enough personalities...but hey ho you cant have everything (yes I am female).
Anyway I dont want to give anything away though. Just watch this - and hopefully the more people in the UK that bang on about it the more chance someone somewhere in a scheduling dept at the TV channel will pull their finger out of their bottom and get it back on UK telly (I understand it jumped around on C5 and FX for a bit).
WATCH THIS. You will not be disappointed.