Thursday, March 12, 2009

Contemplations on "Breaking Bad"

Rapidly becoming the best show on television:

Breaking Bad started its second season last week. This show has received tremendous critical acclaim but little notice outside of Hollywood's insular community. Bryan Cranston won an Emmy last year for his portrayal of Walter White, Breaking Bad's antihero protagonist. I think it's currently The Best Thing On Television, though I am admittedly not a television-watcher. I generally only watch one show at a time (though I don't count 30 Rock or The Daily Show/Colbert Report). So really what I mean is I only have time for one one hour drama at a time. For the past four years or so, that's been Battlestar Galactica, but now that it's (finally) ending, Breaking Bad looks like the replacement.

Briefly, what I find so captivating about the show:
  • It has some of the best acting I've seen on television (nearly on par with The Sopranos).
  • It has a fantastically tragic protagonist, whose moral ambiguity is perfectly channeled by Cranston.
  • The series is Shakespearean in its tragedy (though not its scope). You know almost exactly where its going, but you're still rooting for the characters, nonetheless.
  • It's set and filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which gives the show a very realistic yet alien quality. We're all used to seeing television set in Los Angeles and New York (and more recently, Vancouver and Miami), but the desert geography of Breaking Bad feels altogether new.
I've posted the second-season premiere episode which I encourage any to watch. But a word of warning: if you haven't watched the first season the episode won't make much sense. If you like what you see, I encourage you to purchase/steal/borrow the first season (which is a mercifully-short seven episodes).

Coming up from Yours Truly: Reflections of Galactica (a very personal essay that I will write after the show's finale a week from tomorrow), my Watchmen review, and some musings on theatre and acting.

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