Tuesday Timeshift: #4 Breaking Bad (TV)

Imagine your Dad secretly built a meth lab and started selling a-grade ice for fun and some extra cash? Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) is Walter, one of those middle-America types who really should have been something more – who needs a Nobel prize when you can teach for a living instead? Walter doesn’t have the whiff of failure so much as he’s wading around knee-deep in shit – he’s working part-time in a car wash while maintaining his day job as a high-school chemistry teacher. For his birthday, his wife gives him a little happy hand-job… one hand on the task, the other, her mouse hand, free so she can continue to check out eBay.  This is not a guy who’s sucking the marrow out of life!

Naturally, Walter reaches implosion point and takes things into his own hands. What better way to shake things up than a life of crime? It may seem far-fetched on paper (ok, so of course it is, it’s called suspension of disbelief people!) but the plotting is capable and it all seems perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. And he’s not just gonna be any old drug-manufacturer, Walter is determined to be an “artist”. When only the best will do.

Cranston is at his comedic best without slipping into that irritating schmuck of his Malcolm alter-ego. This guy you actually like! Which is quite a remarkable piece of writing and acting when you think about it. The rest of the cast are relative unknowns but all do an excellent job.

The opening scene of the first episode is perfect in every way and the ending delivers a nice little punch to kick things along so you just want more. Breaking Bad has been nominated for a gazillion Emmy’s so clearly it’s in the “Not to be Missed” ouvre. Meaningless awards aside, it is a great little addition to TV and I’m quite surprised to see it’s been bought by Showtime in Australia which means those with the money (the free-to-air channels) didn’t pick it up. Ok it’s a difficult topic, the guy is running a meth lab after all, but does it matter? It’s good and that should be enough. Well done Showtime for, yet again, taking some risks.

Breaking Bad is airing on Showcase (Foxtel).