Newest Review: ... However Mr Gilligan ends the show I for one will feel bereft and am wondering just what will fill my 'Breaking Bad' fix..... more
WALTER IN THE MIDDLE!
Member Name: Mauri
Advantages: Great acting, Great story
Disadvantages: It has to end sometime
Bryan Cranston is a great actor. Bryan who I hear you ask? And it is true that most people coming to this series cold will probably only know Bryan Cranston when he appears on screen and then you'll shout "Oh that's Hal Malcolm's dad from 'Malcolm in the Middle!". His performance in that classic US comedy invariably stole the show in most episodes and yet I don't feel he ever received the recognition he deserved. Well that has all changed when 'Breaking Bad' came out.
Walter White is a mild mannered Chemistry teacher in a middle of the road high school in the US. Earlier in his career he had been part of a successful research project that had gone on to win a Nobel Prize but through accident or fate and maybe some bad choices he never get the financial recognition he deserved for the work he did. Now fifty years old married with a teenage son and another baby on the way he has to struggle doing two jobs to keep his head above water. He does have a secure loving family but deep down he feels that maybe he should've have done more with his life. Unfortunately Walter's luck isn't about to change anytime soon has he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Stunned but this terrible news he begins to worry about how his family is going to cope with him gone and he decides that maybe he needs to do something that will ensure his family financial stability, the answer he comes up with is not what you'd expect, Walter White decided to use his scientific knowledge to making and selling Crystal Meths a highly addictive and illegal drug. This invariable leads the timid chemistry teacher to experience a much more brutal and violent world he hardly knew existed, but contrary to what we might expect he soon adapts and even begins to excel his new found career...
Although it is true to say the unusual story and frequent jaw dropping twists keep you totally engage breaking bad is really a character led show. Bryan Cranston performance is outstanding combining the fragility of a man facing his own death with the a inner strength that is borne out of a desire to see his family will be well provided for when he is gone. At the same time as sympathising with the character's plight we also feel uncomfortable by his actions as he get ever deeply more involved in a life of violence and drug dealing. Although undoubtedly Cranston is the star of the show is more than ably assisted by a top notch cast especially his wife Skyler played by the relatively unknown Anna Gunn and his disabled teenage son Walter White Jr. played by RJ Mitte and in the case of the latter it is refreshing to see that they decided to employ a disabled actor for the role. The supporting roles of Walter White's ex-student, bad boy drug dealing Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), White's sister in law the acerbic Marie (Betsy Brandt) and his testosterone fuelled DEA cop brother in law Hank (Dean Norris) all add richly to the varied tapestry of colourful characters in the story.
The beauty and skill of the writing of the show is that it can deal with such serious themes such as cancer or the drug trade with all the ensuing violence that in intrinsic in that and combine it with deft touches of dark humour. Walter's attempts to get into the Drug trade are initially farcical and his first few brushes with the criminal world is certainly full of dark humour at the same time his initial decisions to refuse cancer treatment on the basis that he didn't want to go through the trauma of the side effects and wanted to preserve his dignity to the end was touching and sensitively handled. The story also deals intelligently with the effects of the illness on the rest of the family. His son is disappointment in what he sees has Walter's cowardice for not wanting to fight against the cancer. His wife adopts a highly optimistic view and wants him to look at alternative treatments as well as the conventional and highly expensive private treatment that has been suggested.
From the very first episode I was hooked and luckily since I was watching on DVD with my box set given to me for Christmas I did not have to go through an agonising wait for the next episode to be screened on television.
Cranston deservedly won three consecutive 'Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series' Emmy Awards for his role as Walter White and Breaking Bad when it comes to an end will probably be remembered as one of the finest and innovative US TV shows eve made ranking alongside 'The Wire' in this respect.
Currently at the time of writing season 5 is being shown on TV and the previous seasons can be bought as box sets on DVD and Blu-ray. I have been told that the fifth season will be the last and although I will miss the show I'm glad the makers decided to give the series a finite story arc which hopefully will answer all the questions that are raised logically and comprehensively unlike the many other series 'Lost' or 'Heroes' to name just two.
'Breaking Bad' series 1-4 on DVD can be bought from Amazon.co.uk for £35.50 (free delivery) at the time this review was written.
Summary: Chemistry, drug dealers, cancer and underpants..but not necessarily in that order!