Film: Breaking Bad
Cast includes: Bryan Cranston (Little Miss Sunshine) as Walter White, Anna Gunn (Enemy of the State) as Skyler White, Aaron Paul (The Last House on the Left) as Jesse Pinkman, Dean Norris as Hank Schrader
Creator: Vance Gilligan (The X-Files)
Genre: Dark Drama/Crime/Dark Comedy/Noir (TV Series 2008-)
In brief: The unemotional way Walt receives his diagnosis of Stage-3 lung cancer belies the simmering resentment he feels at yet another cruel turn of fate. His rage is so deep that all Walt can do is struggle to keep it contained. Life is so unfair. At first glance, Walt is a mediocre chemistry teacher in an Albuquerque high school. While he loves chemistry, he’s at a loss to inspire his students. We don’t really understand why Walt struggles as an underpaid high school teacher, when he could have excelled in a more suitable career. But we’ll have to be patient… the details will be filled in as the story develops. Nor do we understand early on why Walt chooses not to tell his family about the cancer diagnosis.
As it happens, Walt’s brother-in-law, Hank, is a gung-ho drug enforcement agent. And while watching TV coverage of Hank’s latest raid on a meth lab, Walt notices the money that’s on the table. He also comes to learn the identity of a dealer who narrowly escapes arrest. It’s Jesse Pinkman, a former student of Walt’s. When Walt reconnects with Jesse and offers to partner in a meth cooking enterprise… “it’s just basic chemistry”… it sets in motion an involved and convoluted story.
The complex relationships between characters are what drive many of the plot twists and turns. Each main character is so well nuanced that we come to feel we know them personally. Add to this an amazing production that gives each program a delicious creepiness factor. Early on, I wondered whether the programs would devolve into formulaic mush. After all, some of the early episodes have events that are so violent and disturbing… in a film noir kind of way… that it seemed like a hard act to follow. But as the story unfolds, we start to learn more about the individual characters, and we become more vested in what happens to them. Happy endings appear to be out of reach for everyone. The writers have truly mastered the art of the near miss. When events are so bad that there’s no way out, they escape by the skin of their teeth. When things are finally going well, something happens to derail everything. Don’t look for judgments on morality issues… these are stories about criminals engaged in criminal activities. It’s bold, dark and at times downright disgusting. But that said… it’s very well done.
4 popped kernels
Noir TV that’s bold, dark and at times downright disgusting... very well done
Rated: TV4-314 (Violence, sexual content, drugs)
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Macho
Distribution: TV & direct to video
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Social Significance: Pure entertainment