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Customer Review

9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Implausible, overhyped and simply average, 8 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (includes UltraViolet copy) [Blu-ray] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
You've probably been in this situation yourself: a family member or friend starts raving about the brilliance of Breaking Bad: "Best series ever!" et cetera. When that fails to convince you, their fall-back position would be to compare it favourably to something they know you already like: "It's better than The Sopranos / Oz / Deadwood / [insert name of your favourite series here]!" This was how Breaking Bad was positioned to me.

The first series was dull but I thought I'd stick with it because first series are often as much about laying the foundation as they are about telling stories - characters, situations and so forth. Things didn't improve with the second series but people kept saying that it gets better. It didn't and I finally stopped watching with the penultimate episode of the fourth series.

It's not that Breaking Bad plagiarises other, better films or television shows, though it does, blatantly. The "fixer" role of Harvey Keitel's character Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction is transposed to a much less verbose character in Breaking Bad but it's essentially the same function; the theme of a person deeply immersed in organised crime but trying to keep his domestic suburban family arrangements as normal as possible is one of the themes more memorably played out in The Sopranos; the gun purchasing scene is taken directly from Taxi Driver; the DEA agent Hank Schrader is incredibly familiar as Vic Mackey from The Shield (minus that character's deep corruption) and sleazy clichéd lawyer Saul Goodman seems a composite of every ambulance-chasing shyster you've seen a dozen times before, even Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons.

I could accept all these things because if you're going to steal, steal from the best. My issue with Breaking Bad is that I kept waiting for the "wow" factor and it never happened. I wanted to like this programme a lot, I was expecting to be hugely impressed with it. Perhaps if the hype around it hadn't been so overblown, I would have enjoyed this a lot more. The bottom line is that there are far better series around than this implausible tale of a high school chemistry teacher who teams up with a drop-out and they beat the Mexican cartels at their own game (if you've read anything about the Mexican cartels, you'd realise how comical and unrealistic this is).

For me, Breaking Bad was oversold and underdelivered. If you want a tale of organised crime in the suburbs, go for The Sopranos. If you're after a detailed, rich story of a drug empire and its ramifications on the city, try The Wire. If you want a safe, unchallenging fairy tale about an everyman who becomes a drug kingpin, you'll love Breaking Bad.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jun 2014 22:58:00 BDT
Plenty more people sing the praises of this show than don't, including me. Having you ever entertained the possibility that you just have poor taste? Have you watched the entire series marking Walter's complete journey before passing judgement? If not then you should. If you have then I apologies, but you still must have poor taste.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2014 08:02:16 BDT
Thanks for the comment.

I realise that I'm going against popular consensus on not liking Breaking Bad (and people who write, "Best series evr LOL!" will get more helpful comments) but popularity is not synonymous with quality.

Also, it's absolutely possible that I have poor taste! However, if the definition of poor taste is not liking what other people like, which is what you strongly imply, then I would say that's more akin to cultural cowardice and demonstrates a lack of independent thinking.

I see that you probably didn't actually read my review ("Have you watched the entire series...") because I clearly wrote, "I finally stopped watching with the penultimate episode of the fourth series." Watching dozens of episodes of this middle brow soporific drama should surely qualify me to pass comment, as a handful more are unlikely to suddenly turn my opinion around, if the first ninety per cent were perceived negatively.

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 09:26:20 GMT
All fiction relies on common themes, tropes, intertextuality. What series could you point to that doesn't have a character a bit like a character in something else? The interest lies in seeing how a common theme is developed, what's left out, unusual combinations and resolutions.

And yes, an American chemistry teacher beating the Cartel is implausible. But that's not actually what happens. Fring beat the Cartel (in the excellent mass poisoning scene, did you get that far?) then Walt beat Fring, prompting a Mike to utter one of the best lines of the show to Walt: just because you shot Jesse James, don't make you Jesse James.

When you talk about the fixer I presume you mean Mike? He's my absolute favourite character in a Breaking Bad. Although having said that other characters are great too: Lydia, Fring, Saul, and the rest.

After watching BB twice over I'm at a loss what to watch next. I'm on the second season of Hannibal just now, which quite good, but even more implausible that BB imo. But your review has convinced me I should finally watch The Sopranos and see what all the fuss was about. I hope I'm not disappointed as you were with BB.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2014 10:48:54 GMT
Totally agree with you about common characters and archetypes, I am the one who knocks. If you do finally watch The Sopranos (and for me, that's the best drama series ever made), you'll see familiar mafia types but the writers turn that necessity in to a virtue, by having the mobsters attempt to model themselves, usually unsuccessfully, on characters from The Godfather, or simply reference Scarface, Donnie Brasco et al.

I did end up watching a few additional episodes of Breaking Bad at my wife's suggestion, including the final couple of episodes. This reinforced my view of this series as implausible - the final few episodes, with that ridiculous gun in a car, seemed like a particularly incredulous episode of the A-Team.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Feb 2015 11:41:42 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Feb 2015 23:14:30 GMT]
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