Monday, January 28, 2008
Breaking Bad (review)
If anything, last night's episode of AMC's Breaking Bad (the second of the new series) was scarier, funnier, and sicker than the first.
Last week, Vince Gilligan (producer/writer/director, of The X-Files fame) introduced us to the hapless Mr. White (Bryan Cranston), an Albuquerque high-school chemistry teacher.
Faced with a pregnant wife and a wise-ass son with cerebral palsy at home, uninspired students in the classroom, and pay so low that he apparently has to work a second job at a car wash, White finds out he, just shy of 50, has lung cancer with a short prognosis.
In response to the dire situation, White goes out on a limb and partners with Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a loser former student, to cook and distribute crystal meth. Desperate times, desperate measures, indeed.
Mild-mannered White makes excellent product and, in a surprising twist, quickly transitions to cold-blooded killer--"better killing through chemistry," as necessary to protect his new business interests.
Oh, did I forget to mention that his brother-in-law's in the DEA?
In last night's episode, Mrs. White begins to worry about the exact nature of her husband's relationship with his slacker ex-student, and we all get an ick-making chemistry lesson on the effects of hydrochloric acid on a human corpse ... and other materials.
Not to be mistaken for the Showtime series Weeds, Breaking Bad offers both drier wit and an even darker picture of suburbia. Bryan Cranston conveys a sense of the main character's desperation, combined with the "new lease on life" that a life of crime comes to offer him.
With this, its second foray into series television (following last year's highly addictive series Mad Men), AMC is already outstretching all the competition (except HBO) in original television entertainment.
And with HBO retiring The Sopranos last year and The Wire this year, it may be only a matter of time before AMC provides the new benchmark for provocative quality drama.
Posted by Joe at 2:01 PM