It’s been 10 years since AMC aired a pilot about a chemistry teacher turned drug lord and changed how we analyze television heroes/villains forever. The New Golden Age of Television
turned a deeper shade of blue. Its creator, Vince Gilligan, previously worked on “The X-Files” and with his protagonist Walter White, he made a monster more dangerous than any Mulder and Scully faced. A regular guy, who went through the mill after cancer took hold, then, used his brilliance and the help of a former student, to build a crystal-meth empire. At 1st it seemed like a solution then slowly began digging his own grave and burying everyone he loved in the process. The show never got any impressive numbers till the 2nd ½ of the final season which as it happens is when I was introduced to it. Vince even admitted if it weren’t for Netflix and word of mouth the show probably never would have made it.
The show’s creepy and mysterious knack to put together sequences throughout terribly suspenseful action is likely its greatest legacy. But in a strange way, that legacy is masked by its protagonist’s high concept character arc which as Gilligan put it, turning “Mr. Chips into Scarface.”
As we are in Trumps 1st term, Walt himself is somewhat of a symbol for a certain kind of toxic masculinity. Middle-aged, middle-class male rejected by the failing healthcare system who becomes a small business owner, wages war against Mexicans and makes a deal with Nazis to preserve his political power.
Most importantly and more than any other show of its time, “Breaking Bad” proved that you can have your cake and choke on it too. Boasting a roller-coaster of thrills, catchphrase gold (“Science, bi!*h!” “I am the one who knocks!”) And a crystallized supporting cast so strong that they could sustain an entire spinoff show (thank you, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito)
This is one of those defining roles where you just know that the lead actor will get Emmy recognition, whether he intended to or not. That is just how good Cranston is as Walter. In fact, he’s every bit as good as Michael C. Hall’s “Dexter” Morgan. Oddly enough both shows have a guy doing a bad thing for a good reason.
Of course the supporting cast was just as good with (Anna Gunn) Skyler as Walter’s resilient and cunning wife, (Aaron Paul) Jesse Pinkman the slacker/tweaker (his mess of friends provide some comedic relief), (Dean Norris) Hank Schrader the DEA agent who 1st introduces Walt to the world of meth and unknowingly gives him the push to become “Heisenberg”. It almost seems fitting that Hank who just happens to be Walt’s brother-in-law is the one tasked to take him down.
The second-tier cast includes (Bob Odenkirk) as the fast talking shady Lawyer Saul Goodman, (Jonaathan Banks) Mike is Saul’s hired hand/hitman/fixerand then we have (Giancarlo) Gustavo another Walter White type whose been in the business for decades, hiding in plain site as he calls it.
The title comes from the Southern expression “Breaking Bad”, meaning to “Raise Hell” or turn toward crime. In 2013, “Breaking Bad” entered the Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed show of all time.
My rating A+
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