Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Breaking Bad

Midge and I have taken to watching a new show on AMC, called "Breaking Bad." It's a really phenomenal show, about a high school chemistry teacher who turns his considerable talents into producing high-grade methamphetamine. It stars Bryan Cranston, who most of us remember as the dad in "Malcolm in the Middle." And while he was great in that show (although I was never crazy about it), Cranston is a much more versatile actor than the parameters of that show would reveal. He was great in Seinfeld as Tim Whatley the dentist, and had excellent turns in "Saving Private Ryan" and "Little Miss Sunshine."

His character, Walter White, works two jobs to keep his family afloat, until he learns he has lung cancer. He runs into a former student, a burnout named Jesse who now makes meth. The two strike up an unusual partnership, with Walt making the meth, and Jesse moving it. They run into some trouble on the way, with both forced to make gut-wrenching decisions when it comes to their new criminal enemies. Equally difficult are the problems Walt faces at home. His pregnant wife and teenage have no idea about the drugs, and don't learn of the cancer until a few episodes in.

This show is dark, to be sure, but generates honest and unexpected laughs. The writers take advantage of the absurdity of situations and character quirks to not only make you smile, but make the characters feel more real. As the show progresses through episodes, you see Walt grow from a meek, beat-down man resigned to mediocrity... into a decisive man who does what he must to preserve his family and sanity. Have I mentioned this show is funny? I think I did.

I give this show four tweakers and a big ol' bag of meth.

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