Newest Review: ... is now a drug dealer) Jessie Pinkman (Aaron Paul), and the series basically follows their journey. Breaking Bad is set in Albuquerque, ... more
There's no substitute for this teacher...
Breaking Bad - Season 1 (DVD)
Member Name: SpiderJamb
Breaking Bad - Season 1 (DVD)
Advantages: Fantastic premise, Realistic approach, Perfect writing and acting
Disadvantages: Feels too short, ends just as it gets going, worth watching alongside Season 2
I'd heard about Breaking Bad from several co-workers of mine, who were proclaiming it as the greatest TV show of all time, and this was during it's second season, and they urged me at great lengths to purchase the initial Season on DVD. The first Season consists of only seven episodes, due to a writer's strike in America, but the seven episodes are so mindblowingly good that it would seem too short if there were one hundred episodes in the boxset.
The show follows the misadventures of Walter White, a chemistry teacher who finds out that he is suffering from terminal lung cancer, and in a misguided decision decides to 'break bad' in order to provide for his family once he has gone and turns his chemistry know-how into making scientifically pure crystal meth for his partner, one of his former students, to sell. With such a crazy premise, the show almost writes itself with the excellent juxtaposition of a mild-mannered science teacher turning into a Scarface-esque kingpin.
Rewatching this boxset in anticipation for the fifth (and final) season, I was struck by the amount of dark humour in these initial seven episodes. Where the plot has gotten more crime-heavy in the later seasons, the first season makes a lot of humour in the situation of Walter turning into a criminal. There are some really well-acted dramatic scenes there also, such as an emotionally charged 'intervention' to convince Walter to take chemotherapy.
Fans of crime-drama such as the Sopranos and The Wire, will find much to like here, as the show realistically approaches the subject material, but from a different angle. We have the uninitiated criminal finding himself becoming more and more corrupted by the underworld as he strives to earn money for a good cause. Walter's motiviations are very realistic, and whilst we might not all have the same chemistry know-how as he does, many of us would do anything to provide for our loved ones if we were in a similar situation.
All of the cast put in fantastic work, although some of the characters are more likeable than others. Hank, Walt's brother-in-law and DEA agent, is one of the more watchable characters, and while he comes across as one-dimensional at first, there are more complicated layers to his personality. Marie, his wife, however, is possibly the only character in the show who irritates the hell out of me, but as Jessica Rabbit once said, 'she's not bad, she's just written that way'. It is however the two main leads, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, who carry the show and their teacher/student relationship is the cause of much of the comedy and drama throughout these opening episodes. The script crackles when these two are on screen together, whether it is cooking meth in a run-down RV or bickering about who has to dispose of some 'evidence', the duo have great chemistry together. (pun intended!)
While later series become more complex with more factions and drug lords introduced, this is a fantastical opening season to the series that quickly gets as acquainted with the characters and at only seven episodes long, eager for the second season where things just get a whole lot more complicated for Mr White. I fully agree with my co-worker's sentiment that this is quite possibly the best show on TV, narrowly edging out Dexter for a strong and realistic narrative with an enjoyable anti-hero to root for.
There's a nice mix of special features on the third disc, such as two deleted scenes, some cast screen-tests which shows you part of the audition process, unfortunately there isn't one for Bryan Cranston. There is also audio commentary on the Pilot episode and Episode six, featuring the Creator (Vince Gilligan) and Bryan Cranston ("Walter White"). Beyond that there is a Photo Gallery, two featurettes on production ("Making of Breaking Bad" and "Inside Breaking Bad") and AMC Shootout, which is an interview between with the Executive Producers (Vince Gilligan and Mark Johnson) and Bryan Cranston ("Walter White"). Later Season box-sets will have more interesting bonus material, such as webisodes and other supplementary mini-episodes.
Summary: A fascinating look into a good guy gone bad....
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