Tag Archives: amc

Better Call Saul Ends Tonight!

Hey 3.5 readers.

Better Call Saul ends tonight. I assume it ends. If it ends on a cliffhanger that introduces yet another variation of the Breaking Badaverse that is explored in another sequel show down the road, all us fans will be irate.

In Vince Gilligan’s defense though, he does know how to give us an ending. Other shows leave us hanging but he usually does bring us to some kind of a conclusion.

Thoughts:

#1 – I gave up on this show midway through Season 3. It’s not that I gave up on it so much as I said I’d stream the rest of it later only for years to go by and I was like, “Is that still on? I’ll get to it later.” With the last season in the news this year, I re-binged Breaking Bad, then re-binged the first few seasons of BCS then finally got caught up.

#2- TBH, this might be the way to do it. BCS is by and large, the longest, most expensive exercise in fan fiction ever produced. Especially when you get to season 4, I mean, did we need to spend all that time on the Germans who built Gus’ underground meth lab? There are so many little homages and callbacks to Breaking Bad that if you haven’t seen it in a while, you’ll miss them. Whether that matters, up to you.

#3 – Maybe I misunderstand the Jimmy/Saul/Gene character but I felt like in later seasons, they really made him meaner and unforgiveable than usual. I admit over the years I glazed over Saul from BB as a sleasy lawyer who gilded the lilly a bit only to be sucked down the rabbit hole by Walt. When I rebinged I remembered, oh yeah, he really was a criminal in and of himself, introducing Walt and Jesse to various criminals and committing crimes himself to keep Walt and Jesse out of jail. Hiring bad guys to take a rap, openly advising money laundering, intro’ing your meth dealing client to a meth kingpin via a third party, these are all things no legit lawyer would do.

But I always thought Saul was about the money and somewhat practical about the crimes that lead to money. He often counseled Walt against revenge and rocking the money boat. Ergo, all the nasty stuff he and Kim do to Howard – while hookers showing up at his lunch to demand money was funny, framing him as a coke head was not. Yes, in the end it was about money, getting HHM to look bad so the clients would settle the Sandpiper case and Jimmy and Kim would get their paydays but surely there was a way to do that that didn’t lead to Howard’s total destruction. Howard hits the nail on the head in his final confrontation with the pair, that their lives were hard so they must have felt a man who came from a wealthy background and had an easier life was a target that deserved all manner of nasty punishment. However, Howard is still a person and didn’t deserve what he got and ironically, was the only one who stood up for Jim and Kim multiple times.

#4 – The show also let Jimmy off the hook for Chuck. Chuck was painted as a bad guy for getting Jimmy disbarred but come on. Chuck was a self-made man who rose to be one of New Mexico’s greatest attorneys and his stupid little brother screwed with some document forgery to make him look like a fool and ruin his reputation. Chuck saved Jimmy from criminal charges and got him down to just a temporary law license suspension. Chuck had a right to be pissed.

I would have liked to know more about Chuck’s aversion to electricity. The show waned back and forth from it was real, to it was in his head, to it was in his head so bad that it was real. At times you wonder if he really did suffer from a very rare allergy so rare that modern medicine science has never studied and therefore never cured it. At other times it seems obvious he made it all up in his head but why? My only guess is he was getting older, probably had a harder time keeping up with the fast pace of the law profession but being a prominent lawyer was all he had so mentally, he cooked up a fake illness that gave him an excuse to slow down and do less work from home. It’s clear when Chuck is pushed out of the firm that he kills himself because being a lawyer was his entire identity and that was gone so he felt like he had nothing.

At any rate, the show moved on from Chuck’s death pretty quick. If Jimmy ever felt bad about it we didn’t see much of it, though maybe the point is Jimmy is a sociopath that is just about what he needs and wants.

#5 – The show is almost two shows in one. Especially in later seasons, it veers almost entirely to Mike, Ignacio and the cartel wars. There almost could have been two shows – Better Call Saul and I Like Mike. The Ignacio storyline has to be the longest fan fiction exercise ever, all designed to bring us to the point of that throwaway line in Breaking Bad where Walt and Jesse in ski masks try to intimidate Saul at gunpoint only for Saul to say something about he thought Ignacio said they were cool. At the time it just seemed that the purpose of this line was to show us Saul was so crooked that when someone kidnapped him and put a gun to his head, he had so many scumbags in his life that he assumed it was another scumbag entirely and thus, dear audience, this man is so crooked.

PREDICTIONS:

Funny thing is I let this show go a long time, but then the past half-season I have been glued to my seat. I have never had appointment watching like this since Game of Thrones. Sidenote: I have to watch it Tuesday nights so please don’t post any last episode spoilers in the comments. I’ll have to get through Monday night and all day Tuesday without reading any.

#1 – As Gene tells Kim in the last episode, Mike’s dead. Lalo’s dead. Gus Fring is dead. Add to that Walter White is dead. Jesse Pinkman is presumed on the run. There’s no one alive who can testify against them so who’s to say Gene can’t come out of hiding, beat any cases against him and become Saul again? Gene did do criminal stuff as Gene, but are there any witnesses willing to testify?

#2 – Jimmy loves Kim to the point where he comes out of hiding to cop to everything and get Kim off the hook.

#3 – Jimmy goes into hiding somewhere else with the help of the vacuum cleaner salesman. Or he doesn’t because Robert Forster died so maybe the vacuum man/relocator died too. If only Forster had lived, wouldn’t a relocator series have been fun? Younger actor in a prequel relocator series, Vince. Look into it.

#4 – Gene gets arrested for his Gene crimes and is ID’d as Saul and pays for Saul’s crimes.

#5 – A fun theory going around is the story ends with Saul being locked up next to Walter White who as it turns out, survived his gunshot wound. BCS indicates Walt is dead though, but perhaps only dead to the public. Maybe the relocator relocates Saul and a recovered Walt together in a 2 for 1 deal. They live out their golden years as an Oscar and Felix odd couple. Cue new series.

ULTIMATE PREDICTION: The show is adept at defying prediction so the outcome will be something we won’t predict.

Tagged , , , , ,

Better Call Saul Prediction – Saul Becomes Saul Again

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal, BQB here.

Can you believe it? Better Call Saul just entered the last half of its final season, and unless there’s an impending reboot or sequel or prequel we don’t know about (always possible) this will mark the end of the Breaking Badaverse.

I’ll expand later but right now, I want to predict that Saul will be Saul again. Right now, he’s Gene, hiding out in Omaha on the run from the law after being the lawyer for chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin Heisenberg.

If you check out the promos, you see Gene in black and white slipping on a red suit jacket. Meaning? “Gene’s” life is always shown in drab black and white. “Saul” was once very flamboyant. He lived for arguments and action and courtroom drama and intrigue and stacking that cheese and outwitting his opponents.

But as Gene, he just goes to work, comes home, and tries his best to go unnoticed, hoping the police won’t pick him up. The show is in color when it shows Saul’s earlier life, the one where he was a fast talking ambulance chaser and having a great time.

SPOILER – If you have seen Breaking Bad and the later Jesse-centric El Camino Netflix film, you know pretty much anyone who could testify against Saul is either dead (pretty much everyone) or on the run (Jesse). So, is there anyone left to testify against him?

He could very easily step out of the shadows and reclaim his lawyer fame, blathering about how dare the criminal justice system railroad him into going into hiding. That’s what I get out of the promo photo. For Saul, being a civilian is drab gray. Being a lawyer is color. It seems like a hint he’s slipping that lawyer coat he loves on to ride again.

The thing that always made this show stand out is how it illustrated crime does not pay. It really, really does not. Over the course of the original, Walt and friends and enemies all pay a high price eventually, even those who got too close and didn’t distance themselves before it was too late. This isn’t one of those shows that whips out a happy ending or absolves the wrongdoer. Crime is a horrible life and it catches up to you.

But Saul? Arguably in that gray area. Definitely did illegal, immoral and crooked stuff, but he’d say he did it all in the name of defending his clients. I don’t think that would fly in the real world but in the world of TV lawyers, I could see Vince Gilligan possibly letting Saul off the hook.

Then again, there’s the argument that Saul has done wrong and like all wrongdoers, doesn’t matter their reasons, if it was understandable how they got into it or if they’re even somewhat likeable, those who do bad on this show get punished.

Then again, isn’t a guy who loved to talk being forced into exiled silence enough punishment?

Tagged , ,

Better Call Saul Series Finale Predictions

Hey 3.5 readers.

I enjoyed this show at first but must admit I let it fall by the wayside for years. Then upon hearing it was ending this year, I went on a binge and got all caught up.

SPOILERS ABOUND.

My main criticism is after season 3, when Chuck is killed off, the show descends into wacky fan fiction territory. It’s definitely for the hard core Breaking Bad fans, with every little aspect of BB getting expounded on. I’m not sure all of it was needed. For example, did we ever care how Hector got his little bell? I had already assumed someone just gave it to him to help him communicate through dings so I’m not sure there was anything else we needed to know. And Gus’ crew constructing the underground meth lab. I mean, sure, I suppose it’s interesting but why don’t we just spend a whole season on watching Walt’s tumor grow while we’re at it?

Anyway, for those who caught the mid-season finale, it was very tragic and shocking. Longtime Jimmy nemesis Howard Hamlin was in the wrong place at the wrong time and maybe that’s all I should say about that.

Perhaps in future posts I’ll go into my thoughts about other parts of the series but for now, my predictions as to how the show will end.

#1 – “Gene” gets to be Saul again.

In black and white vignettes, we see Jimmy/Saul as Gene, a mild mannered nobody managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska. Living the life of an average schmuck was Jimmy’s worse nightmare and now it has come true. Once boisterous and full of life, he now keeps his head down and avoids all manner of personal connection, just trying to get through the day without being noticed.

We’re never quite sure when the Gene days happen or how much time has passed. Is it years after the Heisenberg debacle? Is it right after?

If it is right after, then seeing as how Walt dies and Jesse goes on the run and all the Nazis are dead and Gus is dead and all the major cartel players are dead and all the Madrigal players are dead Hank and Gomie are to our continued shock and horror, dead and loyal Francesca will play dumb, is there anyone out there left who could testify against him? If not, is there anything stopping him from dipping into that diamond bag, coming out of hiding, opening a new law office and Sauling it up once more? Maybe in a big league market like New York or LA this time?

I’ve been checking out theories and no one has predicted this scenario so I’m going to. It would be awesome.

#2 – Walt Whacks the Guy Who Recognized Saul

Word has it that Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston will reprise their Jesse and Walt rules for guest starring roles on the end of the series. Not quite sure how that would work. If the Gene days are right after the whole mess, I can only picture it as somehow they both stop by Nebraska on their respective ways out.

Gene tells the vac salesman/professional evil-doer relocator (the late Robert Forster) he’ll take care of the problem himself. For those who don’t remember, the problem is a former ABQ resident moved to Omaha who recognizes Saul and apparently intends to make his life miserable. Could “handling it” mean a phone call to Walt telling him he owes Saul one and he’d better handle this problem for him? Maybe on his way back to ABQ to harass Gretchen and Elliot and commit mass amounts of Nazi murder, he stopped on Omaha to take that menacing cabbie out to do his old lawyer a solid.

I don’t know how Jesse would get involved though, yo. Stopping in Omaha while on the run from ABQ to Alaska seems like a detour the disappearer wouldn’t have made. Then again if it is years and years later, maybe Jesse visits Saul for…some reason. Doubt it is to kill the cabbie. Jesse as we know doesn’t like doing such things.

#3 – Reunite with Kim

From the start of the series, we assume the Jimmy and Kimmy romance doesn’t last because after all, Kim wasn’t seen at all in Breaking Bad. There is a fun fan theory that she was behind the scenes all the time, perhaps as the mastermind behind Saul’s crooked tax dodging scheme “Ice Station Zebra Associates.” After Saul visited Walt and Jesse, he’d go to his love for advice on how to help these dumb yahoo meth cooks stay out of jail and she was the real maestro behind Saul’s operation but just stayed out of the limelight to not get her hands dirty.

Eh, that seems unlikely, though anything is possible. A safe assumption, what with the Lalo mess, is Jim and Kim breakup. Whether it’s just sort of a low scale breakup where Kim says she doesn’t want to be crooked anymore and goes back to a quiet law abiding life and never sees Jimmy again, or perhaps something bad happens that she herself must enlist the disappearer’s services, we don’t know…yet. Keep in mind though according to the show, Kim grew up in the Nebraska area so perhaps she went home to live with her mom and so when Gene says he’ll take care of the cabbie, he means he’s going to call his old flame who is also in hiding to bail his ass out one last time.

But then again it’s possible she just stayed in ABQ and went back to a normal life and just kept Jimmy out of it.

There’s always the possibility that something horrible happens. Maybe Kim dies by the end of the series. That would truly be awful but BCS and BB have never shied away from embracing the fact that a life of crime comes with truly disastrous and horrifying consequences.

However, if Gene and Kim could reunite in hiding that would be awesome. Maybe even come out of hiding. Didn’t she call herself Giselle when she and Jimmy did their scams? Maybe Jimmy and Giselle ride again. Maybe Saul gets to be Saul again and Kimmy is his co-counsel Better Call Giselle. Better Tell Giselle?

Tagged , , , ,

Breaking Bad Binge

Let’s party like it’s 2013, 3.5 readers.

I recently went down the rabbit hole of a Breaking Bad binge. I haven’t watched it in years, so much of it was fresh. It’s also funny how when I first watched it when I was younger, I identified more with Jesse and all the angst that comes with growing up and realizing you’re on your own because the adults don’t know as much as you thought they did. Now I’m old and I identify more with Walt, i.e. the older you get, the less shits you have to give because the bitterness grows as you realize with age comes wisdom but also with more doors slamming in your face.

Of course, the whole moral of the story was just when you think it can’t get any worse so you might as well give up on all semblance of morality and engage in any evil deed you desire, you will discover that there always is something else to lose. Walt comes to the meth business with a suburban Karen-esque mentality i.e. “I need to speak with the meth biz’s manager because the meth gangs aren’t playing fair.” As he learns, dealing meth isn’t like being a teacher. You can’t complain to the union when things go wrong. Various baddies threaten Walt, his kids, his loved ones. Crime doesn’t pay and there’s always something more to lose.

At any rate, this is one of those shows that benefitted from the early days of streaming. It’s premise, a man with a cancer death sentence decides to embrace a life of crime because screw it, if he gets arrested he’ll be dead soon anyway, sounded kind of sad. And truly, it is. Writer and producer Vince Gilligan doesn’t let his characters off the hook with happy endings. He explains how they got into this terrible life and adheres to a rule of those who do bad things get bad consequences.

I could talk about this show from a writing standpoint forever, but instead, let’s watch Walt Jr. rap about breakfast:

Tagged , , ,

Andrew Lincoln to Leave the Walking Dead

IMG_1747

Sad news for “Walking Dead” fans, 3.5 readers.

My thoughts:

#1 – My initial hot take is you suck, Andrew Lincoln.  I hope this isn’t a ploy where you want more time to do movies because seriously, there is no movie that you could be in that people want to see more than a kick ass series finale to the show that made you a star.  Bryan Cranston realized that he had to juggle movies around his main bread and butter, namely sticking with “Breaking Bad” until the end.

#2 – But after calming down for a minute, maybe he doesn’t suck.  Lincoln is from England and he points out that the show has kept him from seeing his family for a long time.  AMC may be the network that a show about a meth cooking teacher built, but it is also the network that zombies kept afloat and in sticky cash.  AMC does not want to ditch those zombies any time soon.  It’s a great formula.  Hire dummies to run around the woods pretending to fight zombies.  Plot = humans need something in a place where zombies are.  Fight zombies.  Get sad a human dies.  Occasionally move to a new place that seems like it is run by nice people at first but then the people are bad.  Cut.  Print.  Repeat.

In that case, you can’t blame Andrew Lincoln for not wanting to stay FOREVER.  If AMC is going to keep the zombies coming until the end of time, then I suppose we can’t begrudge Andrew for not wanting to fight the zombies for the rest of his life.

“Law and Order” for example, found a winning formula and it has been on for decades now.  Sure, Mariska Hargitay stuck with it but that’s her choice.  Other actors haven’t stuck around.  I’m not even sure all the actors that were on it in the beginning are still alive.

I think we all have been waiting for that epic series finale that explains all but I have a feeling that AMC will keep “Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” and possible other spin offs going forever, just bands of humans fighting zombies until the end of time.

If they pull it off, more power to them.  My gut tells me they won’t and once Rick Grimes leaves, that will be it for the viewership.  Maybe not.  Maybe they’ll pull it off but that rarely happens when the main star leaves.

Examples I can think of – “That 70s Show” kept going without Topher Grace as his movie career kicked off.  I don’t blame the cast and crew for wanting to keep it going but I stopped watching after that and I think most people did because it was cancelled not long after Grace left.  Replacing him with a cousin didn’t help.

It’s not impossible to keep a show running without the main character, just unlikely.

#3 – So if Andrew doesn’t want to be Rick until the end of time and AMC wants the zombies forever, I can understand why he wants to exit but even so, we at least need a kickass ending arc to Rick’s character.  That will be like a finale for those of us who have stuck with the show from the beginning.  Maybe we’ll dump the show after Rick leaves.  Maybe we’ll stick around if the writers figure out a great Rick replacement.  But at least give us some closure with Rick.  I fear that won’t happen but we’ll see.

#4 – Andrew leaving should have been kept quiet.  We are now going into the new season with a spoiler.  We know Rick will either die or go off on his own or something.  If they could have kept Andrew’s leaving quiet, then an unexpected Rick death would have suprised the shit out of all of us.

#5 – We’ll see how it goes but I think Andrew and AMC owed us viewers a good resolution to Rick’s character and to the show itself, because I do have a hard time believing the show can carry on without Rick but we’ll see.  We viewers built your network with our support for your show, AMC.  We didn’t let you down when “Walking Dead” needed word of mouth and people hyping the show up on social media, so don’t let us down by giving us a lame ending to a show we’ve been watching nearly a decade now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

TV Review – Better Call Saul (2015 – Present)

Drugs!  Crooked lawyers!  Cinnabon!

BQB here with a review of the Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul.

Once upon a time, Bob Odenkirk brought the comic relief to Breaking Bad as notorious ambulance chaser, Saul Goodman.  On that series, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) informs meth cook partner Walter White (Bryan Cranston) that they need a “criminal” lawyer, emphasis on the criminal – not just a lawyer who specializes in criminal law but one who engages in criminal activities to get his clients off.

And the rest is history.

Better Call Saul is a prequel of the life perpetually down on his luck attorney, Jimmy McGill, led, long before he took the name Saul Goodman or became Walter White’s lawyer.

You’ve probably seen shows that paint the law as a fantastic profession to be in.  TV lawyers are often portrayed as wealthy, fast talking beautiful people who drive fancy cars, eat at the best restaurants and make out with other beautiful people.

This show gives us a look at the grimier side of the legal profession.  Jimmy McGill practices out of a literal closet in a nail salon, drives a car with mismatched doors and barely makes ends meet.

He has a love/hate relationship with his brother Chuck (Michael McKeen), one of New Mexico’s most respected lawyers.  Chuck is a rabid electro-phone, meaning that he is convinced that anything that uses electricity is sending electric waves into his body that could kill him.

Michael McKean displays some of the best acting of his career as he sits in a dark house, eats food out of a cooler full of ice instead of a fridge, forces visitors to leave their cell phones in his mail box, and covers his home and his body with tin foil space blankets.

Meanwhile, there’s an on-again/off-again romance between Jimmy and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), an attorney that actually strives to do honest work.  Sometimes she serves as Jimmy’s conscience.  Other times, she gets dragged down into Jimmy’s world of crap.

Rounding out the cast is grizzly ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut, the fan favorite of many a Breaking Bad viewer.  We find Mike in a lowly state at the beginning of the series, working as a parking lot booth operator who regularly feuds with Jimmy over his inability to remember to obtain the required parking validation stickers.

From there, the two start going down the rabbit hole of the Mexican drug cartel world, that same world that Walter White gives a big giant enema to in Breaking Bad.

To be clear, the show is nowhere near as good as Breaking Bad.  That’s not an insult to Better Call Saul but rather, a compliment to Breaking Bad, as that show captured lightning in a bottle and is a rare commodity.

However, just as its predecessor took an unlikely concept, i.e. a terminally ill chemistry teacher who stops giving a shit and rises through the drug underworld to become a kingpin, and spin it into gold, this show does the same with an unequally unlikely idea, namely, that the comic relief of the previous show should get a show that’s all about him.

The show has heart.  Jimmy has a dream to become a great, powerful lawyer, yet there are so many obstacles in the way.  Maybe you, the viewer, never tried to become a lawyer, but you probably had some dream.  Maybe you achieved it, maybe you didn’t but either way, most people can relate to obstacles getting in the way of their dreams.

The show features Vince Gilligan’s signature storytelling style.  It’s “show, don’t tell” to the max.  The viewer is presented with a lot of mysterious, ominous stuff.  None of it is clear at first but if you keep paying attention, the mental energy you expend will not be wasted.  Everything that happens in the show means something.  There’s very little filler or fluff that can be cast aside.

I admit when I heard this show was in the works, I had my doubts.  Breaking Bad could never be topped and perhaps if this show sucked, it would taint the legacy.  But somehow, the show, while not surpassing the first show, still holds its own and is a boon to fans who still want to see that Gilligan style on the screen again.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Walking Dead Recap – Season 7, Episode 15

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB with a Walking Dead recap, so if you haven’t seen it…SPOILER ALERT!

So, I inadvertently broke the Internet with this tweet:

70 retweets and 266 likes as of this writing.  Holy crap, that’s a record for me.  (Still counting too as of last refresh).

That was in response to the trap Sasha laid out for Eugene, by the way.

By the way, does anyone else think that it was a dick move for Rick to hijack all those nice Oceanside ladies?

Was it a dick move for that girl to punch her granny in the face?

Anyway, if you want more gems like this one in your Twitter feed, be sure to follow me @bookshelfbattle

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 1 – “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

cropped-cropped-img_1753

Holy crap, 3.5 readers.

Seven seasons and The Walking Dead just keeps walking.

I don’t want to spoil it but needless to say, the big question going into this season was who did Neegan kill and low and behold, we found out, in a big way, and with some twists.

Some big ole twists.

So, you know, I’ll probably hang on for another week before I go into detail just to let people process and in case anyone hasn’t gotten to see it yet and needs to catch up.

If your new to BQB’s recaps, just remember they are spoiler laden, so avoid if you haven’t watched the show yet.

What did you think, 3.5 readers?

Tagged , , , , ,

TV Review – Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

I am the one who reviews!

High school chemistry teacher with cancer + his former student who calls everyone “bitch” = show that most critics would agree is the best television show of the twenty first century thus far.

BQB here with a review of Breaking Bad.

When this show came out in 2008, someone close to me had just died from cancer, so I wasn’t interested at all.  I saw the previews for it and was like, “eh” then I saw the previews for Showtime’s The Big C, a show that came out around the same time about a woman trying to keep her life together while fighting cancer and I was just like, “Look Hollywood, cancer is not funny or glamorous and it is the last thing I want to see on TV when I’m looking for an escape, thank you very much.”

So the years passed and then somewhere in the early 2010s I heard people talking about this show so I gave it a chance on Netflix and was immediately hooked.  And from what I’ve heard, the invention of streaming media breathed life into this and a lot of other shows.

Because when you think about it, a show about a high school chemistry teacher dying from cancer doesn’t exactly sound like good time appointment viewing, but once it was available in a format for people to check out when they had a free moment, boy howdy did they get hooked.

And truth be told, the show isn’t so much about cancer as it is a study of a) the sadness people feel when they reach the end of their lives feeling like they never reached their full potential and b) how much the legal system keeps us all behaving like good doobies without us ever realizing it.

Remove a) the fear of dying because you are already dying and b) the fear/humiliation of ending up in prison (because you’re dying) and the nicest person you know might end up walking down an evil path.

The set-up – Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was, in his youth, a promising chemistry scholar who starts a business with friends Elliot (Adam Godley) and Gretchen (Jessica Hecht).

Walter sells his share of the company early, the company becomes huge, like Facebook huge.  Meanwhile, Walter grows old and bitter, having spent his life in mediocrity as a high school teacher with a part time job at a car wash just to make ends meet.

Somehow he manages to snag a hot wife, Sklyer (Anna Gunn) while his son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) oozes happiness and gets along as a typical teenager despite a handicap.

When Walt is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his despair over his untapped potential haunts him. He’ll die without using his genius brain to make it big.

Alas, his brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris), a DEA agent, takes Walt on a ride along.  Walt catches a glimpse of just how much cash a good drug dealer rakes in and the little hamster starts rolling around the wheel in his brain.

What begins as an idea to use his chemistry know how to cook crystal meth in order to leave some extra cash behind for his family turns into a long journey into the proverbial heart of darkness, as Walt uses his smarts and fearlessness (because, hey, he’s dying anyway) to rise to the highest ranks of the criminal underworld.

He takes on Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), his former student turned junkie as his partner in crime and together, they become expert meth cooks.  As Jesse becomes like a second son to Walter, their relationship is sometimes tragic and sometimes even hilarious.

Add to the mix criminal lawyer (the show stresses you are to read this as a “lawyer who is a criminal”) Saul Goodman (veteran comedian Bob Odenkirk) who steals the show with his obnoxious TV lawyer ads.  Saul teaches the boys how to launder their money, dodge law enforcement, get out of trouble, etc. etc.

Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is the old ex-cop/problem fixer that Walt works with. The combination of the grizzled old man who has seen and done it all and the chemistry teacher who sees things through gentrified eyes is comical.

Meanwhile, Giancarlo Esposito as crime boss Gus Fring is one of the scarier bad guys on television.

Throughout the series, Walt struggles to keep his public and private lives separate.  He continues to pose as a good dad and husband while sneaking off to cook meth and deal with criminals with Jesse.

All the while, lovable Hank, and I do mean lovable, is chasing some criminal without realizing the man he wants is his beloved brother-in-law that he spends the weekends with grilling burgers and shooting the breeze.

If anything, the Hank/Walt dynamic is what really makes the show. The show runners could have made Hank the stereotypical tough guy cop but instead they made Hank an average joe.  He loves his wife, Skyler’s sister Marie (Betsy Brandt), loves his in-laws Walt and Skyler, loves his nephew Walt Jr. and brews beer in his garage as a hobby.  He is, one might say, a true mensch.

The star of the series is Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator and man behind the scenes.  Every detail, every little thing that happens means something.  Take notes as you watch because if someone so much as sneezes it will turn out to be important later. Not letting a single second of time go wasted has become Gilligan’s signature.

So many shows take off and then descend into chaos.  The actors get too big for their britches and want to leave for bigger, better things.  Ironically, prior to this show, Bryan Cranston wasn’t that well known, his other biggest acting gig having been as the father on Malcolm in the Middle.

Like Walt, Bryan found fame and fortune late in life (albeit legally) but he never forgot the viewers and juggled all the big movie roles that came his way with Breaking Bad, keeping it all together to keep the show going.

And sometimes writers run out of gas, but Vince and company keep viewers on the edge of their seats to the very end.

In fact, if you’re a wannabe writer, I highly suggest checking out this show. (At present, all five seasons are available on Netflix.)

And catch the prequel, Better Call Saul on AMC. It doesn’t have a lot to do with Breaking Bad but you get to learn how Saul and Mike worked together before Walt came along.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Daily Discussion with BQB – Robert Kirkman vs. George RR Martin

Happy Friday 3.5 Readers.

Robert Kirkman of Walking Dead fame recently said in an interview that he would not allow a network to take control of his show the way George RR Martin has.

My two cents:

a) GRRM is almost 70 years old.  Though I’m sure he is enjoying all the attention his life’s work is getting, it did come at the end, not exactly at a time when he could enjoy all the accompanying fame and fortune.  He needs to balance the need to get his last novels in the series done with not wearing himself out to the point where he keels over.

b) HBO has done a great job.  Currently, we’re in the first season in which the show begins to diverge from Martin’s books (the show has progressed farther past the point where GRRM has written) and the consensus is that it has been the most riveting season yet.  That’s to trash Martin.  He has been advising HBO on what he intends to do next and they are carrying it out.

I don’t know. I don’t mean to knock Kirkman either as the Walking Dead is also pretty great.

I just think GRRM and Kirkman are in two different places. Kirkman is young enough he can still run the show whereas Martin needs extra naps.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,