A brilliant TV show that put his mark on modern television.
« To break bad : to defy authority and to skirt the edges of the law. »
Walter White is a shy and self-effacing man, chemistry teacher at Albuquerque (New-Mexico), he has gone through so many failures that he ultimately accepted his status of « victim of society ». Furthermore, in order to provide for his family, he works in a car wash station in which he’s treated like a stooge. His only success is his family : his wike Skyler, and his 16-year-old son Walter Jr.who suffers from cerebral palsy. His daily is boring and uninteresting, until the day everything changes. Walt is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, and he’s only got some months left to live. But the main problem is money. How to pay the treatment ? And above all, how will his family manage to pull through without him ? Then, the answer comes as he is watching a TV report with brother-in-law Hank, who works for the DEA. Walter White, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will cook and sell methamphetamine with the help of one if his former pupils : Jesse Pinkman. This is the beginning of a series of unstoppable events, this is the beginning of a slow descent into hell, this is simply the beginning… of the end…
There are works that instantly mark you for the rest of your life, Breaking Bad is one of those. Honestly, I am not an addict to TV-shows, except Malcolm In The Middle, The Walking Dead, and Kaamelott (it’s french), nothing had managed to attract my curiosity. Let’s be honest, finding a good, original TV-show, with interesting characters and story, and that doesn’t advocate superficiality, is not easy ! But not impossible ! Because Breaking Bad is all of that, and more. The whole story is based on the concept of transformation, which I thnink should be the base of any good show. Seriously, what is the main difference (or quality) between of film and a TV-show ? The lenght ! A TV-show allows the audience to follow a character for several years, whereas a movie is just 2 or 3 hours. The TV is a good way for the writers to make the characters evolve in a more subtle and deep way, because they have more time.
So, if Walter White, played by the incredible Bryan Cranston, starts like a « nice looser », he’ll soon get a completely different status, because Heisenberg -that’s his pseudo for the business- is going to become a real legend, ruthless and insatiable, and being the witness of this transformation is an amazing experience.
The other main character is Jesse Pinkman, played by the very talented Aaron Paul, who could be described as a lost, junkie young man, rejected by his family and who can’t manage to get into the society. That’s why he does drug dealing with his friends Combo, Badger and Skinny Pete. From an immature and careless guy, he’ll turn into a smart, thoughtful, and deeply human man whereas Walt fades gradually to Heisenberg.
I think you got it, Breaking Bad has two deep and interesting main characters, whose relationship is at the center of the series. But it doesn’t mean the other characters are less interesting ! From Saul Goodman, the charismatic lawyer, to Mike Ehrmantraut, the ruthless henchman, through the unforgettable Gus Fring, and the list goes on, Breaking Bad offers a large cast of heterogeneous characters that we don’t often see on TV or cinema, all played by extremely talented actors, a remarkable casting.
Let’s talk about the directing, and honestly, if TV-shows are more and more well-made, we can’t say that the directing is more original. And then we have to admit that once again, Breaking Bad arises as a reference. But not from the very beginning ! Indeed, the series has known three differents directors of photography, it is the Oscar winner John Toll who worked on the pilot, then replaced for the rest of the first season by Reynaldo Villalobo, who did good work, but not particularly brilliant. So that’s from season 2 and the arrival of Michael Slovis, that the series has really taken off visually. It’s simple, every episode of Breaking Bad is full of visual and graphic ambition. The lighting says a lot about the characters, colours reveal where we are (Yellow = Mexico), and the camera is always in the right place, playing with details and prospects in a sometimes experimental style, transforming the image… In brief, nothing has been left to chance and the series benefits of an extremely rich visual style, like a trademark.
A good series need its good soundtrack, and… Unbelievable ! Breaking Bad has a great soundtrack ! Would this series have only qualities ? It seems like it… We have on one side the very atmospheric compositions of Dave Porter that perfectly fit with the tone of the series. And on the other side we have a bunch of tracks that match with the spirit of the characters. We can mention for example « Catch Yer Own Train » from The Silver Seas, « If I Had a Heart » from Fever Ray, « Black » from Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, and of course « Baby Blue » from Badfinger. But there are more, and I invite you to discover them by yourself.
In brief, Breaking Bad is a masterpiece, an exceptional TV-show that has become the model of its kind and that nobody will manage to overcome before a very long time. Congratulations to showrunner Vince Gilligan who managed to make each new season better than the previous, until a cathartic and absolutely memorable finale. Do not miss it.