'Breaking Bad' -- Am I the Only Person Watching This Great TV Show
Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte
in Breaking Bad
"AFTER HAVING its maiden run shortened by the writer's strike, 'Breaking Bad' recently capped a breathtaking second season that delved deeper into the show's world of moral ambiguity and unintended consequences," writes Variety's pundit Brian Lowry.
He was talking about that unusual thing -- quality television!
WELL, I usually don't accept expensive bribes and thank you's from people in show biz. But I am sitting here proudly wearing my "Breaking Bad" wristwatch that came from the show's lead actor -- the talented Bryan Cranston -- with this delightful note: "How dare you write such terrific things about our show!" I am really proud of this watch, which says, "Breaking Bad" right on the face.
WHAT HAS bugged me since this TV show started on AMC is the fact that nobody I ever mentioned it to seemed to know what I was talking about. Because I have seldom seen such an engaging, shocking, surprising, violent and adult drama on television, I keep touting "Breaking Bad," as if I am an evangelical TV watcher. (It's right up there with my other enthusiasms, which are for AMC's "Mad Men" -- I had better luck pushing that one -- and for HBO's "Big Love," about a fundamentalist Mormon household trying to hide its polygamy.)
BRIEFLY, AND not to ruin "Breaking Bad" for you if you've never seen it, this TV drama tells the story of an Arizona high school chemistry professor in love with his wonderful wife and expecting a baby. He discovers he has lung cancer and sets out in a desperate way to earn big bucks against the eventuality of his death. (The professor's family also has an appealing young son who has been crippled by cerebral palsy and his brother-in-law, who just happens to be a big deal, loud mouth DEA agent.)
I suppose you can guess somehow what our run-of-the-mill hero does to make money, but I won't get into plot here.
I am hoping you'll now go to your local store and buy the DVDs of the first season of "Breaking Bad." Or go to the trouble to download seasons one and two from iTunes.
THE SHOW ended its second season the other night with happenings so dramatic, unbelievable and yet unhappily believable that they defy TV expectations. (Talk about the law of unintended consequences! Let's just say your heart in your mouth won't be a bad description.) I leave it up to you to figure out your reaction to the singed, one-eyed teddy bear in the swimming pool.
The acting of Bryan Cranston ... his wife, played by an appealing, truth-loving Anna Gunn ... the son -- a sympathetic RJ Mitte ... the in-law cop Dean Norris and his dizzy klepto wife, Betsy Brandt, is all above and beyond first rate.
You start living the lives of these people. And let me not forget the catalyst young actor Aaron Paul as Cranston's choice "helper" in his money-making attempt. (It is already established that Aaron Paul will be whatever kind of big-deal acting star that real life and this series intends him to be. He is fabulous.)
To give you an idea, the behind-the-scenes villain and one of many haut criminals involved in drug trafficking is seen here in season two as the innocuous head of a local chain of Taco Bells and performs as an upstanding citizen! That's just a peek into "Breaking Bad." Maybe you don't have to find seasons one and two and can just join the fray with season three, but, ye gods, you'll be missing two seasons of the best TV I've ever seen. (If it were a movie, I'd compare it to "Chinatown." Only it is even better than that!)
Season three premieres on AMC in the first quarter of 2010, but that's a long wait and I simply can't imagine how the writers will carry on with this impossible story. Viewers did pick up by 12 percent in season two. But why haven't the many awards won by this show been translated to the public?
"Breaking Bad" won an Emmy for Bryan Cranston as best actor in a drama back in 2007/2008. It won a Peabody during season one. It won an AFI Award as one of the top 10 shows in 2008. It won a Writer's Guild Award for creator Vince Gilligan in 2008. It was a best edited one-hour series for Lynne Willingham for 2008. And Bryan Cranston won best actor again from the Satellite Awards. And, yet, none of my high or even my low-brow friends seemed to know about this great show, as they face my enthusiasm blankly.
I FEEL I could write until Doomsday -- and Doomsday hangs over every episode of "Breaking Bad" -- and I wouldn't have moved 10 readers to react as hundreds did the other day on the Wow site in their touching rave fantasies about "American Idol's" Adam Lambert. What can I do? Buy young Aaron Paul a guitar or give him a singing lesson so he can go on "Idol"? Were he in a feature film, he'd already have been nominated for an Academy Award.
Okay, as Shakespeare would say, our revels now are ended and I probably haven't impressed you. But I just had to get my enthusiasm for "Breaking Bad" off my chest. Even so, I'll never take off my "BB" wristwatch from Bryan Cranston, except to bathe.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com, or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)
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