Friday, July 27, 2012

Breaking Bad S5

I learned this week that Breaking Bad, the best programme on American TV doesn't get shown in the UK. Apparently it was bumped around the schedules of Channel 5, never really found an audience, and no one has picked up the rights for the current season. If you want to see Breaking Bad in the British Isles the only place to catch it, so I'm told, is on the Irish language channel TG4. (Presumably with subtitles in Irish, or maybe even dubbed in Irish?) This is madness. Breaking Bad is the best crime drama on American TV, hell, I think its the best drama on American telly, period. Bryan Cranston has owned the Emmy since beginning his run as put upon chemistry teacher Walter White who - spoiler alert - becomes a meth kingpin. The scripts of BB are sharp, realistic, well directed and the supporting cast (with one or two exceptions) is excellent. When violence occurs the repercussions of the violence are always shown and two of the most important emotional vectors in the series are guilt and regret. Breaking Bad has far more energy and verve than Mad Men and what I love about White is his ability to outthink his opponents. He may lack courage, he may lack cool, he may be dying of cancer, but he's always the smartest guy in the room. S5's premiere episode was a fine example of this. After S4's brilliant final episode "Face Off" incriminating evidence had to be gotten rid of in the evidence room of a highly protected police station. This was a classic locked room problem and White solved it (with a little help from Jesse) in an innovative and clever way. s5e1 also gave us a flash forward to the future when Walt looks to be in serious trouble on his 52nd birthday....ah, whom the screenwriting gods wish to destroy, they first crown with laurels and then they bestow hubris...
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More from me about Breaking Bad here, and here. The Slate Culture Blog has some theories about why Breaking Bad hasn't, er, broken bad, in the UK, here
Breaking Bad Episode series 1 episode 1 (the pilot) below: