Damson - What we're watching... #4
"TURNING MR CHIPS INTO SCARFACE"
11 years ago, a darkly comic drama starring the dad from "Malcolm In The Middle" of all shows was released, and answered a question that middle-aged men could have been asking: What would happen if I quit my boring job and became an outlaw? The logical answer obviously involved drugs, guns, mobile homes and staggering around the desert in your pants.
First impressions aren't always everything though are they? By the time Breaking Bad came to its end, Bryan Cranston's Walter was a fully-fledged murdering megalomaniac, and the darkly comic tones of earlier series had all but vanished. The question was now, is Walter White the greatest Villain in TV history, or an anti-hero up there with the likes of Tony Soprano? The truth is, there isn't a right answer. Yes, he was flawed. So very flawed. But, he was also a family man who just wanted to provide for his wife and children, and felt remorse for his actions, for the most part.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan created a show that is destined to be in top 10 lists for the rest of time, it's that good. It wasn't always apparent that this would be the case though. The first series starts a little slow, and at a reduced seven-episode run, it took a while to get in to. Once we did though? Oh boy. What. A. Journey. It came out just after The Sopranos ended and is very probably the most popular show that came from "The Golden Age Of Television" that followed in the years after.
For those unfamiliar (what rock have you been hiding under), Breaking Bad starred the aforementioned Bryan Cranston as Walter "Heisenberg" White (in the role of a lifetime) as the teacher-cum-chemist, and relative unknown at the time Aaron Paul as Crystal Meth cook Jesse Pinkman. There were many, many other fantastic characters, but the show was anchored by these two. Friends, enemies, frenemies, they were never too far away from each other as the series went along. Walter was an everyman High School Chemistry teacher who fell on hard times after a cancer diagnosis, who used his genius, and help of his former student Jesse to build a Crystal Meth empire. As you can imagine, it's not always plain sailing and soon enough there are so many others involved. Cartels, Neo-Nazi's and of course the police ensure that the story never stays still or predictable for long.
We imagine it's pretty difficult to create "must-see TV", but that is exactly what Breaking Bad became. Each episode made your heart drop into your stomach, and by the time you had managed to fish it back out, the next episode did exactly the same. The sheer amount of drama was staggering. Even in all these years since it ended, people talk about it with great affection.
Breaking Bad's final episode was one of those rarest beasts. An ending that was almost universally acclaimed. None of the ambiguity of The Sopranos or Game of Thrones anti-climax here. Although, for the record, we loved the ending of both of these too.
Yesterday, Netflix released the hugely anticipated "El Camino" movie, which promises to give viewers the answer they've been dying to know: What happened to Jesse Pinkman? Don't worry, no spoilers here (that's for another time). Even without this full stop on The Breaking Bad story, it's pretty much the perfect series.
October 11, 2019