Breaking Bad

8.6 / 10
47 min
Crime
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10
" gives "Breaking Bad - Complete series" a 10."
Written by on 17 July 2014.
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Breaking Bad - Complete series

First of all, I want to start by saying that I don’t believe in 10s. There’s no such thing as perfection, but if there’s a series that comes close, it’s 'Breaking Bad'. The series which transformed the absurdly roller skating dad from 'Malcolm in the Middle' into one of the greatest actors that TV has ever seen. 'Breaking Bad' is a series where even superlatives fall short to describe it. It started as a series which wasn’t watched much in its first seasons, but grew to a global phenomenon in its last season (with soaring ratings for a cable series). All because of a consistent high quality and persistent word-of-mouth. It made people curious; which was entirely justified.

'Breaking Bad' is considered to be one of the greatest TV series of all times by critics, and the American Film Institute (AFI) declared it as one of the best 10 series of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (2013 will follow soon). 'Breaking Bad' has recently been included in the 2014 edition of the Guinness Book of Records, because the series acquired a score of 99% (out of 100%) on MetaCritic.com, which makes 'Breaking Bad', from a critics’ point of view, the most acclaimed series ever. It won 50 awards so far, including Emmys, TCA awards, Critics Choice awards, Saturn awards, Satellite awards, Screen Actors and Writers Guild awards. Such achievements speak volumes.

The story has been told numerous times, but it’s about the now-cult hero Walter White (Bryan Cranston, 'Malcolm in the Middle'), a chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer. To provide for his family after his death, he starts to produce methamphetamine with his partner, former-student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul, 'Smashed'). During five seasons, the audience gets to see how the duo start in the drugs business, which obstacles they have to overcome in their new profession and how it affects them and those closest to them. They grow out to be major players to be taken into account, which also puts them on the radar of the local and federal authorities. Creator Vince Gilligan gives us main characters who have changed completely when, after sixty-two episodes, you have reached the series finale. Trust me when I say that both Walter as Jesse are two completely different people at the end of the series and they will not only drag themselves, but also their environment, with them into a downwards spiral.

The series has everything a discerning viewer wants; character development, consistency, continuity, great acting, strong dialogue, phenomenal scenes, settings, fantastic writers, stunning cinematography, and above all, probably the most important, vision. The series, and creator Vince Gilligan, knows which story it wants to tell and in which way. When you watch it, you’ll notice that the creators love their production and really put some thought into what they want to show us. Every action has consequences and everything is causally connected. Things cannot be seen as separate. The series knows which direction it’s headed, but it also shows exactly which steps will have to be taken to get there. Just think of the scenes where the White family rehearses their alibis and quiz each other to make sure their stories match. These kind of details are always made essential in the world of 'Breaking Bad', something which, incomprehensibly, 9 out of 10 series skip because they rush to the exciting part. In doing so, they forget that the viewer has to invest, and be interested in, the characters to which the “exciting” part happens. And that’s the main rule of quality television: it’s no use if the audience isn’t involved with the characters and how they develop. It’s all about character, not about story. Something I was always given to keep in mind during filming assignments.

It’s therefore no surprise that cable dramas are the leading kind of shows on TV and series like 'Breaking Bad' prove exactly why that is. It’s no coincidence the people say you have to watch cable if you want quality. This kind of guts, ambition, production value and craftsmanship (in front of, and behind the screens) just can’t be found on network TV. Every discerning viewer can probably agree within a heartbeat. A decent episode of 'Breaking Bad' is almost always still better than anything else on TV. I have often marveled at the acting chops of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and the entire cast, by the way. Because usually those two are showered with accolades, but also Anna Gunn ('Deadwood'), Dean Norris ('Under the Dome'), Giancarlo Esposito ('Revolution'), Jonathan Banks ('Day Break') and Bob Odenkirk ('How I Met Your Mother') deliver great acting. This is a cast that elevates the material to new heights. All the awards the cast got are testimony to that.

Furthermore, the many cinematographic feats were finger-licking good. I remember the tracking shot in the episode “Crawl Space” where Walter lies in a crawl space and the camera slowly moves away from Bryan Cranston. These kind of beautiful camera techniques could be found in almost every episode. Any fan can mention one or more memorable scenes of the show from the top of their heads. Personally I recall the opening sequence of “Negro y Azul”, the incredible suspense in “One Minute”, “'Ozymandias'”, “Dead Freight”, Walter’s threat to Hank in “Blood Money”, Walter’s arrogant monologue in “Say My Name”, or the hilarious introduction of Saul Goodman in “Better Call Saul”. One can come up enough excellent episodes (and scenes) which can be discussed enthusiastically, there are truly too many to mention. Along with the setting of the series, the atmosphere and the tone which can suddenly change from friendly to extremely grim, makes the Breaking Bad experience a truly memorable one.

I can honestly say that I will miss the series immensely. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the many hours of viewing pleasure Vince Gilligan and the cast gave me. 'Breaking Bad' stopped at its peak, something a station like Showtime can learn a thing or two from (just ask any 'Dexter' fan). Series like 'Breaking Bad' remind me why I like the medium of television and why it’s no longer inferior to its big brother on the big screen, the movies. These kind of series prove you can find quality on Tv, which in the past was usually only associated with movies. Therefore I’m glad the spin-off 'Better Call Saul' is in development. Not that I’m expecting it to match the level of quality of 'Breaking Bad', but if anyone can come close to it, it’ll be Vince Gilligan and his team. As said before, I don’t believe in 10s, so I would rate Breaking Bad as a 9.5. Even I had trouble with some story arcs. But this series has meant so much for television; the quality was consistently high and the series kept so many people glued to their TV and has given them so much pleasure, that I can easily make an exception for these series. Because of that, and because I’m convinced the legacy of 'Breaking Bad' will be huge.

One can endlessly analyze and philosophize about 'Breaking Bad'. Every lover of quality TV should immediately stop with whatever series he/she is watching and start with 'Breaking Bad'. In decades we’ll still talk about this, movie- and TV students will write essays about it and other series will try to copy it. It has so, seeing how much this series has brought on. You can most assuredly expect to see 'Breaking Bad' at the Emmys next year, where it will rake in many awards. I can therefore only conclude with a legendary quote of Walter White from the episode “Cornered”: “You clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler! I am the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No, I am the one who knocks!” Boys and girls; this was really something! 'Breaking Bad', cast and crew; I wish you the best and thank you for letting me witness this masterpiece! Salut!
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