Breaking Bad is one of those TV series which has been on my to-do list for some time.
Everyone has told me how good it is, and it’s not that I didn’t believe them, nor that I have any reason to doubt them – and even clips I’ve seen before now have pointed to iti being fantastic, but I end up with so much to watch that some things slip off my radar if they’re not current (and yes, season 5 was current when it was showing up on Netflix, but I didn’t have time to catch up on four seasons’ worth just like that).
What led me to get round to watching it now is, because since Viacom bought out Channel 5 from pornographer-in-chief Richard Desmond, their new channel Spike TV is showing them as of last Wednesday. Of course, I’m not a fan of watching in SD when I can watch it in HD with DD5.1 sound, but it gave me the impetus to catch up on this cultural phenomenon.
So, we start with the pilot episode, which begins with Walter White (Bryan Cranston) crashing his Winnebago whilst driving through the desert and wearing a gas mask. At the same time, he seems to have lost his clothes, as his trousers are seen sailing through the air, and now, literally only has left the shirt on his back… and his pants (not his trousers, American readers, I’m talking about what we call his pants. Not sure what you’d call them).
Leaving inside a few deadbeats, he grabs his gun and quickly heads outside. Switching on his camcorder, he records a goodbye message to his family, sets it down on the ground with his wallet and heads into the road, gun in hand as the cop cars’ sirens get closer. He begins to aim his gun…
Cut to three weeks earlier, when he reached the grand old age of 50 and it felt like life couldn’t get any worse: He’s a chemistry teacher where the kids don’t respect him, he has to make ends meet by working at the local car wash, inadvertently cleaning the vehicle owned by Chad, the most annoying student in his class, and his son, Walter Jr (RJ Mitte), gleams that, due to his wife Skyler’s (Anna Gunn) attempts to get the family healthy, their ‘fake bacon’ smells like Band-Aids.
In addition to that, he’s also suffering erectile dysfunction, but he has a hankering for some possibly easy cash, as shown to him by his cop friends, who prove that you can make a ton of money by running a meth lab… until the law kicks in the door, of course. However, since he’s sick of having to make lemonade from all the lemons life has given him, you have to break out some time, don’t you…?
Well, not just yet as he collapses on the job at the car wash. On the way to the hospital, the paramedic knows something is wrong and off for a scan he goes. He has inoperable lung cancer, giving him two years to live tops. So, when you think life can’t get any worse, don’t we all know that it does!
On the plus side, this allows him to quit cleaning cars in dramatic style, telling his boss what he can do with his silly eyebrows which would give Leon Brittan’s a run for his money, and off he goes for a ridealong with Hank (Dean Norris), busting a meth lab, but while he’s forced to sit in the car as they check it out. At that time, he sees former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), making a sharp exit after having it off with a bit of strange, falling down to the ground and doing a runner, his car number plate revealing that he is wanted drug bloke Cap’n Cook, and since the Cap’n knows the business, while Walter White knows the chemistry, our favourite 50-year-old suggests they partner up.
He nicks the requisite equipment from the school lab and heads over to Pinkman’s place to set it up… but the druggie is reticent to do that, since he doesn’t want the cops sniffing around, and nor does Walter at his place. The answer? A Winnebago! It’s handy to get about and you can drive it out into the remote badlands where no-one will get a snifter of you doing anything even slightly illegal!
Out there, he creates glass-grade meth, the best Jesse’s ever seen, causing the latter to take it to Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega) who shows him that his ex-partner-in-crime Emilio (John Koyama) made bail earlier that day, and they all head back to the mobile meth lab.
Nearly facing death, Walter only survives because he trades his and Jesse’s lives for teaching the lad’s ‘friends’ how to cook meth properly. Knowing they’ll more realistically blow him away at the end of this, he creates an explosive diversion and heads outside, trapping Huey and Duey inside until they choke to death on the fumes. Huzzah!
Alas, an accidental cigarette fire next to the RV results in him making a break for it, and that’s how he ended up in the position at the start of the episode… but with the cops seemingly never coming, and with him unable to put a bullet in his own head due to leaving the safety catch on. Eventually, he realises the sirens are not police, but actually ambulances, with no care for his situation.
I learned that Breaking Bad is the term given when your morals take a downward turn. And Walter learned that one plus in everything that has happened comes when he sees some bullies in the clothes store making fun of his disabled son, his cancer gives his life the new-found urgency to turn it around. And by the end, his wife can’t figure out what’s got into him, but she soon finds out that what gets into her is his John Thomas…
So, I was looking forward to getting stuck into this and from what I saw here, I was not disappointed and I will be looking forward to the full five seasons. I will also say that I thought Spike TV were showing them on a weekly basis when I started watching this, so, despite this one being a bit late in the day, I was going to time my reviews to go online coinciding with the weekly broadcast.. but… D’oh! it’s not weekly. They’re on every weeknight at 11pm, and I won’t be catching up at that speed.
I hope you still enjoy reading these as I post them. Feel free to comment below, including telling me what Americans call the pants that us Brits refer to them as, but please no advance spoilers.
Director: Vince Gilligan
Producer: Karen Moore
Screenplay: Vince Gilligan
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Music: Dave Porter
Walter White: Bryan Cranston
Skyler White: Anna Gunn
Jesse Pinkman: Aaron Paul
Hank Schrader: Dean Norris
Marie Schrader: Betsy Brandt
Walter White, Jr: RJ Mitte
Krazy-8: Max Arciniega
Emilio Koyama: John Koyama
Steven Gomez: Steven Michael Quezada
Bogdan Wolynetz: Marius Stan
Jock: Aaron Hill
Dr Belknap: Greg Chase
Carmen Molina: Carmen Serano
Chad: Evan Bobrick
Chad’s Girlfriend: Roberta Marquez
Irving: Allan Pacheco
Chemistry Student: Jason Byrd
Sexy Neighbor: Linda Speciale
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.