mad in pursuit notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS

"Breaking Bad" Season One

Ok, we tried to watch the Emily Dickinsen one-woman show. But finding ourselves asleep at the half-way mark, we switched to AMC's "Breaking Bad" (Netflix/streaming).*

We are late to this series, which just finished its fourth season. I'd heard raves about it, but the premise is off-putting: dying high-school chemistry teacher starts cooking crystal meth to raise money for his family. "Big C" meets "Weeds"? Uh, no thanks. But when I kept hearing about it on my favorite tech shows, I had to see what the buzz was about. We watched Season 1 over New Year's weekend.

I have to admit, it's riveting. "Revenge of the Nerds" meets "The Wire." Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a dutiful chemistry teacher who works part-time at a carwash to make ends meet. His wife is 40 and pregnant. His son has mild cerebral palsy. Lung cancer is the final blow. But Walt's "superpower" is his brain and his whiz-bang abilities in chemistry (which of course no one appreciates). And dying makes him bold.

The first season, I would say, is about Walt's education from book-smarts to street-smarts, usually learned the hard way. It's gritty and violent. There is comedy, but it's dark, dark, dark. I don't know where it will go from here, but we started Season 2 last night.

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*New York Post Review (Season 1); USA Today review (Season 1); Metacritic

Jan 4, 2012