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  • Customer reviews

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, but 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.

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 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 his secret criminal career 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 the early Seasons of 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, I found the early Seasons of Dexter just slightly more enjoyable to watch. Dexter: Complete Season 1 [DVD].
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on 20 February 2014
 I've just watched the 62nd and final episode of Breaking Bad and here, without any major spoilers, is why you should begin the same breathtaking journey.

The series is an action-drama that centres on Walter White. He's a 50-year-old respected chemistry teacher, just about keeping his family afloat with the aid of a second job at a car wash, who one day is given a diagnosis of terminal cancer. With a wife, son (who has cerebral palsy) and soon-to-be-born baby to care for, not to mention his considerable medical expenses, he needs money - and fast.

Walt takes the fateful step of combining his perfectionist chemical know-how with one of his more street-savvy former students, Jesse Pinkman, to 'cook' and supply the highest quality crystal meth that their area has seen. He discovers that once on this path, although there are many detours, it's very difficult to go back. Walt's relationships with his family and friends (including his DEA agent brother-in-law) are suddenly beset with problems, and he frequently relies on resourcefulness, ingenuity and serendipity to both keep his illicit activities from them and play the criminal fraternity at its own game.

So why does the series enjoy so much acclaim? It comes down to a brilliant original idea from Vince Gilligan, working closely with a talented writing team who, over the course of five seasons, hammer out every single plot point and use all the narrative devices in the book to tell an utterly compelling story of one man's embarkation on a hazardous voyage. Not just that, it has the magical combination of a first-rate ensemble cast (Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul play Walt and Jesse respectively), innovative hand-held camerawork (beautiful timelapse establishing shots; out of kilter POV moments) and excellent characterisation.

Because Sony was taking a tentative punt on the series and it coincided with a writers' strike, the episodes in the first batch are few in number (just seven). However, each of the next three seasons comprises thirteen instalments and season five is split into two runs of eight apiece. The low episode count for season one works to its advantage as it allows plenty of time to set the scene and introduce characters while still telling a blackly comedic tale, which leads directly into the series proper, if you like.

This is a programme you'll want to stick with. It continually raises the stakes as it goes on and, come the final episodes, you'll be bingeing on it. Breaking Bad is, quite simply, one of the finest examples of television art. There are many British shows that could learn from it.
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on 1 January 2017
I bought this for a friend because I loved the series so much and thought she would like it as much as I did. You know when they say a book is unputdownable? Well, some TV shows are like that. If you have the box set of Breaking Bad, you'll want to watch one episode after another until the end. So compelling. Such fun. Original, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining.
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on 28 June 2013
A family saga, a personal drama, a black comedy. Breaking Bad is all these things and more. This short but very sweet first series introduces two of the most well rounded, well written characters to grace our screen. Their tenuous relationship alone is enough to float this series.

Walter White is a good man who teaches chemistry and has lived a normal life. That is until he is diagnosed with lung cancer. He panics, despairs but most of all worries for his family's future. After all his wife is expecting a baby. He unexpectedly bumps into an old student of his in a rather compromising situation. This could be his way out.

Combining his chemistry skills with the "business links" that Jesse has, his new partnership takes to making the best drugs in town, and so their mini-adventure begins.

The series works because there are so many layers to the story. On the surface this does just seem like a drug fable with the normal tropes thrown in. Peel back some of those layers and you will see a family struggling to cope with the prospect of losing the head of the house. On top of all this you have Walter struggling to create the drugs whilst keeping any violence to a minimum. He struggles with the morality of the whole situation. Does he continue to risk people getting hurt for the money or does he walk away and leave his family in dire straits.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are superb. They play of each other wonderfully and their tense partnership is both sweet and destructive. Over the 7 episodes they really grow together and the story really excels when they are together.

The writers of Breaking Bad have skilfully woven a story and a superb character arc into such a short space of time. With one of the best written characters around it had to be a supreme actor to take up the role. Bryan Cranston delivers in spades. He is strong, emotional and sometimes utterly terrifying. He has a moral compass which sways erratically and he goes from being the meek teacher to the ultimate dealer. A character up to his knees in a cesspit, Cranston gives him heart and in turn makes the audience support him even though it doesn't feel right to.

Aaron Paul shouldn't go without a mention either. His bubbly, erratic Jesse is the superb counter to Walter's downbeat persona. He bounds around spitting insults and avoiding the police as if it is the most natural thing in the world. He can't understand why a bumbling old chemistry teacher is helping him out, but he doesn't care when the product is this good.

A criminally short lived series that begs you to move on to series two. Breaking Bad is television at its best.
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on 2 January 2015
I found it started rather slowly but became more interesting as it progressed. What made the difference was the protagonist progressively changing from the bumbling caricature of the middle class and middle aged White American male into a more malevolent and focussed being with his eye on the ultimate prize. The acting in the minor roles is excellent; the woman who plays Skyler, the wife in the series, has played it every bit as annoying as you would expect from a muddle headed idealist from Vassar. And and the DEA brother in law and his wife are superbly done. I have been told that the main character Walt White, goes over to the "dark side" at some point and I am keen to see how this is managed. It figures to be quite a transformation.
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2011
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!
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on 21 February 2011
A chemistry teacher, Walter White, finds out he has terminal lung cancer and but a short few months to live. Determined not to tell his family, an unexpectedly pregnant wife, Skyler, and teenage son with cerebral palsy, RJ Mitte, he sets about preparing for his death by thinking of a scheme to leave them with the biggest amount of money possible - meth. A chance encounter with a former student, Jesse Pinkman, who is now a drug dealer, sets the wheels turning and the two become an unlikely team - he cooks the meth using his years of chemistry experience and Jesse distributes it. But how does he keep all of this secret from his family, especially his brother in law who is a Drug Enforcement Agent? Throw in the troubles that come with selling meth and the scene is set for one of the best TV series of the last 10 years.

Bryan Cranston does a star turn in his role as Walter White, bringing an intensity and empathy to a character in such a way that he always gives a memorable performance in each episode and fashions a unique character along the way. Aaron Paul does a brilliant job bringing to life the character of Jesse Pinkman and giving him the humanity you perhaps wouldn't feel for a drug dealer. Anna Gunn does an even better job in the role of Skyler White than she did in her last role in "Deadwood" (another AMAZING series) and creates a complex and conflicted character with real depth.

Though the first season is short (7 episodes) each one is packed with wonderful dialogue and plotting as we see Walter and Jesse bumble their way through the stages of creating a drug dealing business and overcoming the many obstacles along the way, namely rival dealers, and Walter juggling the time he spends away from his family cooking meth and hiding his illness. It all makes for utterly absorbing television and is yet another jewel in the crown of American drama TV, putting to shame British TV where all we seem to do is create exportable formats in the shape of talent contests, games of luck, and dance shows.

"Breaking Bad" is mesmerising TV and this is coming from a guy who rarely watches TV. After just 3 episodes I saw round a friend's house I had to buy the 1st and 2nd series and I was not disappointed in the least. You won't regret getting to know Walter White and Jesse Pinkman and their complex world. Roll on Season 3!
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on 24 October 2012
When you first hear this show is about a Chemistry teacher who contracts cancer then makes Crystal meth to leave a nest egg for his family, you really dont know what to expect.

As several of my friends and family recommended this show to me I had to give it a go.

Im not the best at leaving reviews on TV and Music but I have to say that I have never watched a show with Such interesting and yet tragic charcaters, each character has their own subplot.

And everytime my Wife and I finihsed an episode we both say I cant wait to see the next one.

The first series is short 7 episodes and each one gets better and better by 6 & 7 the scene is set and even though bad things are being done, real anti heros are born.

The show has a real dark humour about it, and covers 2 very serious issues Cancer and how it effects family live and also drug dealing.

From start to finish as you progeress through each series you begin to see that what Walt Snr is doing has a major butterfly effect.

Its about family, and love, and deceit, and lies, and fun and so on and so forth.

in Summary, great show, brilliantly wirtten with superb characters that will leave you wanting to speed your way thorugh each series
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on 12 September 2011
Suprisingly I never knew about Breaking Bad considering this is created by The X Files Brain Boff Vince Gilligan. I loved every single episode. This is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Originally shown on the FX channel (FX Channel who?!?!) their publicity was not known or advertised into the mainstream. I am surprised one of the 4 major networks here in the UK has not picked it up - It deserves to be screened. For those who ask - what is it about? Well it's pretty much this in a rounded way; Man discovers he has cancer. Man needs money for family. Man makes meth. Man gets involved in criminality. Man sells Meth. Adventure pursues...
Does not sound much to it, but it gets you hooked with it's wit, the hilarious one liners and most of all - the acting by all the cast. You cannot help but fall in love with each character due to their natural nature and personification to our norm. Gilligan removes everything conventional hollywood and replaces it with everything au naturel. This deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, I am totally hooked.
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on 24 October 2013
Unusual plot, great acting, droll humour and chemistry, who could ask for more? The opening of the first episode is almost surreal - a man in his underwear and wearing a gas mask driving an RV across the desert. Huh? It all becomes clear, but what an impact it makes.

Mind you, the chemistry does occasionally go a bit awry (mercury fulminate is incredibly unstable, which is why it's used in detonators, but it does not have THAT sort of explosive power). All the characters are great, each with his or her individual quirks, flaws and blind spots. Best of all is Walt, determined at all costs to provide for his family, and at the end of this series just starting to realise how high that cost may be. Well worth your time.
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