BREAKING BAD: SEASON ONE (2008) TV REVIEW “DRAWS YOU IN WITH GREAT CHARACTERS AND TONE”

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A short time ago, “Breaking Bad” has ended its historical run on television. Now considered among the greatest shows ever produced for the small screen. At the time of its release I didn’t catch on its first run and always wanted to watch it but just never got around to it. Now armed with Netflix, I can finally watch the show entirely commercial free and never have to wait another week to see what happens next. One day I sat down and watched the entire first season in one day. The first season of “Breaking Bad”, is a well written, well acted, and well directed show. One that defines it’s characters well and sets up for what is sure to be greater things to come in the not always interesting premiere season.

AMC’s “Breaking Bad” follows a nerdy, family driven, and sometimes socially awkward high school chemistry, named Walter White, as he is diagnosed with lung cancer. Unable to pay for treatment and concerned for his family’s future, White turns to one of his former students named Jessie Pinkman, who now cooks and sells Crystal Meth. They partner up to produce one of the most pure crystal meth in the country. Now White and Jessie have enter the criminal underworld to move this drug for Walter to give his family the future they deserve.

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The premise of the show could easily been turned into something really silly. Those types of sitcoms that has a character in a fish out of water story, this could have easily became that. However under the stern direction of show creator Vince Gilligan, the show instead is given the tone of a serious and dark drama, that also has occasional uses of some black humor. The tone and style of the show that he and his team of writers have created is incredible engrossing. It’s not overly produced like a lot of crime dramas or trying to appear overly cinematic either, which is where many shows have their down falls. This show is rather subtle approach that is more artsy than many other show on television right now. Things are not really spoon fed to the audiences and it’ll keep the viewer really engaged, especially for the first few episodes and last couple of episodes of the season.

The characters in the show are not clichéd nor are they “cardboard cutouts”. Each character in the show is different and unique from one another and things are not always as they seem with them. Walter White is a character that grow through a lot of growth in just the first season alone. At the beginning he is a teacher that really isn’t respected from his students and doesn’t get a lot of respect outside of the classroom either. He has two jobs, teaching and the car wash. Once he enters the realm of crystal meth dealing, he demeanor begins to change. He starts to stand up for his son when he is getting picked on and has no problem telling of his wife whom of which had most of the power in the relationship up to that point. There are many physical metaphorical changes that are visual that is presented to the viewer. The deeper and deeper he gets into the crystal meth “game”, as said before he begins to change, and this is represented by his loss of hair (not just due to the effect of cancer) but also his new found sexual prowess that was sorely lacking in the first episode. Walter White is played by Bryan Cranston and is a very sympathetic lead character in the show, we know what he is doing is wrong but we can’t help but root for him in the process, and excellent performance.

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The other lead character is Jessie Pinkman played by Aaron Paul. The character at first seems like your stereotypical drug addict. He isn’t always the smartest, a bit of a smart ass, and like having sex with his “bitches”. He enjoys sitting around with the rest of his meth heads and doing some drugs with them but he is cunning and wants to bring the big bucks. His back story though is what is most intriguing about him, concerning his relationship with his family, how it all went wrong and where he stands with his little brother. It reveals a different side of Jessie that also brings him into a more sympatric light and could be my personal favorite character on the show.

Rounding out the rest of the cast is Anna Gunn played Skyler, Walter’s wife, everyone’s least favorite character on the show, which is strange since if you really think about it she is right in most things she does on the show. Dean Norris plays Walter’s DEA brother in law agent, Hank Schrader while Betsy Brandt plays his wife, Marie Schrader. Everyone here does fine work including Walter’s son RJ Mitte. This is a terrific cast with great performances.

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As well as the show is written and acted near the middle of this season the show does get a little uninteresting. Not a lot happens and some of it could have cut out or condensed which would have made for a shorter season but it would have been a bit more effective. What this season does is set up the characters for future seasons. Many action junkies would find this show very boring but that’s not the crux of this show at all nor does it need to be. While the middle does drag a bit there is important development in there however there is a lot of other not the most important things. The storyline following Skyler and her sister was a lot of nothing and the story concerning his son feels a little forced but still becomes integral to the continuing plot, I wish that was handled a bit better. Since I’m a person with only the first season under my belt for all I know these parts become a very important part of the show and reserve my right to change my mind but as of now this is where I stand on some of the weaknesses of the season.

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When the credits roll for the abrupt end of season one, you are left wanting more and want to load the second season as fast as possible. The first season doesn’t wow the viewer but however it creates a very addicting atmosphere that is very well written and brilliantly acted. The middle of the season does drag a bit but the first season is suppose to define their characters and this does exactly that. There may not be a ton happening on screen in terms of plot but as far as character development this has plenty. Like I said before the first season didn’t “wow” me but instead got me hooked in the characters and the world and very much look forward to the second season.

Final Score (Season 1)

8/10

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