Category: Breaking Bad

'Breaking Bad' recap: Trapped by the eye

'Breaking Bad' recap: Trapped by the eye

In the first season of “Breaking Bad,” Marie Schraeder was one of the show’s worst elements, as it went through the process of finding itself.

Back in those days, the show seemed careful to remind us that everybody does some bad things, and the more you try to disguise this from yourself, the less honest you are with yourself. And, yes, that’s true. But it sometimes came uncomfortably close to arguing that what Walt was doing could be justified on some level, that the show actually bought his idea that he was doing something good for his family, instead of introducing a terribly destructive element into his community and tearing it apart. That idea disappeared so quickly – it was mostly gone by the end of the short first season – that it’s easy to forget it was present. But for the first half of that season, there it was. And even though Marie hasn’t stolen anything since, it’s still a loose end that nags.

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Are you sick of TV antiheroes?

Breaking Bad

“Breaking Bad” returned for its fourth season July 17, continuing the story of Walter White, possibly the worst person currently the main subject of a television series. (Not counting reality TV — there is a lot of competition from that quarter.)

For those who have not been following along — and more of you are, with the fourth-season premiere up 30% from last year’s — White, played by Bryan Cranston, is a former chemistry teacher impelled by a diagnosis of cancer, a desire to provide for his family and a series of fortuitous/ruinous coincidences into the manufacturing of methamphetamine. He beats the cancer but continues the drug-making, growing into a murderously empowered version of his needy, sad-sack self.

It is a smartly made show, with a great cast, on AMC. (Cranston has won three Emmys; Aaron Paul, who plays Jesse, his former student and current partner, has won one.) And yet, the growing crowd notwithstanding, I find it dreadful, in the strict sense of the word; it is a bad trip. Walt has long since crossed the line in which it is possible for me to feel for him, and while this appears to be what creator Vince Gilligan, who has spoken of “comeuppance” in the series’ future, had in mind from the first, it is nevertheless a funny sort of fun.

Photos: Hollywood Backlot -- On the set of 'Breaking Bad'

There has been a lot of that lately in the world of prestige drama, of course. We are not yet out of the age of “The Sopranos,” which, when it muscled in on the cultural conversation back at the end of the 20th century, made darkness and dysfunction the norm, first for premium cable, then basic cable and broadcast TV: “Nip/Tuck,” “Rescue Me,” “Deadwood,” “The Shield,” “The Tudors,” “The Borgias,” “Damages,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Weeds,” “Dexter,” “Californication,” “Mad Men,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “House” are, to varying degrees, its progeny. Many have been among the best things on television. But as much as I love Hugh Laurie, I am over the hopeless Gregory House; his ups and inevitable season-ending downs feel more contrived with every passing year, tricks to make a static character look dynamic.

In the same way, though Tony Soprano began as a person in apparent flux, long before the tardy end of “Sopranos” it was clear that the character was fatally fixed. Because it’s habitual to root for the person at the center of a story — and in stories like these there is usually someone worse around to make the antihero comparatively palatable — every so often David Chase would have Tony kill someone, as if to remind you that he was, in fact, a bad guy, and that a love of classic rock did not make him a better one.

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'Breaking Bad' recap: A man works


As "Breaking Bad" has gone on, one of the things I've really liked is how it portrays Walter White's sense of entitlement, his sense that he worked hard to earn this money and he shouldn't have to be boxed in like everybody else. He should be free to be Walter White: crime boss, and everybody else should just get with the program. But the longer he keeps at his new business, the more it starts to seem like, well, a business. He's got hours he has to keep. He's got the equivalent of a boss checking in on him every so often. His actual boss is someone he wants to literally kill (and who can't identify with that?). He has to keep making the money, so he can keep his wife and brother-in-law fully funded going forward, even though the former no longer wishes to be married to him.

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What could Vince Gilligan do after ‘Breaking Bad?’

“Breaking Bad” fans feeling the post-premiere buzz after watching Walt and Jesse wriggle out of another nasty pickle know they’re in for a season’s worth of dark motives and close calls from series brainchild Vince Gilligan.

What else might they get from the creator when he's done making mayhem in New Mexico?

Gilligan and longtime producer Mark Johnson have recently been discussing plans for Gilligan’s post-"Bad" career. Among them is a return to the big screen: The pair have talked about bringing back Gilligan, who co-wrote “Hancock,” to direct "Convenience," another script he wrote. It's about teenagers who work at a convenience store but get in over their heads when they meet employees on a prison-release program. (Think a sort of PG-13 "Superbad.")

Also in the mix for the former "X-Files" writer is a comedy called "2-Face," a script Gilligan wrote several years ago about a man with split personality disorder: one of them a raging racist and the other a sensitive altruist. (The project has been in development for years, at one point with Will Ferrell, but is still very much alive.) Like "Convenience, "2-Face" would be a switch into comedy, though with a dark streak that "Breaking Bad" fans would recognize.

It will be at least a few weeks before AMC decides whether to bring back "Bad" for a fifth season. (If the show keeps getting the acclaim, don’t bet against it.) Gilligan is heavily involved with all of the series episodes,  even editing them himself, which means that it’s nearly impossible for him to take a break from the show to direct a film or work on another series as long as "Bad" is on the air.

But that doesn't mean he's not thinking about it. At the “Breaking Bad” premiere a few weeks ago, Gilligan told Show Tracker that he does have some other ambitions. “I’d really like to do a western, something really hard-edged," he said, then, after a pause, “but the truth is I guess we kind of do a western now.”


Vince Gilligan climbs inside the world of Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad recap: You don't mess around with Gus

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad." Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' recap: You don't mess around with Gus

“Trust us.” – Jesse Pinkman

These are the first words Jesse speaks in the entire fourth season premiere of “Breaking Bad.” He’s arguably the second most-important character on the show, the series’ moral center despite all the terrible things he does. He’s played by an Emmy winner, for God’s sake, and you’re supposed to give Emmy winners plenty of scenery to chew, right? Yet there he sits, silently, clearly waiting for his death to come, clearly deeply bruised by the fact that he just took a man’s life to save his own life and the life of his unlikely father figure. He doesn't speak for something like 40 minutes of this episode's running time.

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'Breaking Bad' season four preview: Slowed down a bit, but still the best show on TV

Breakingbadkey The fourth season of “Breaking Bad” debuts this evening, and if you’re like any good TV fan, you’re probably super excited for the return of Walt, Jesse, Skyler, Hank and everybody else. (I’d say you’re probably excited for the return of Marie, but that may just be me.) And yet in the last few months, so many people have been catching up with the previous three seasons on DVD that it may be time to issue a few warnings, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, and we can eliminate unnecessary grousing.

So here are a few things to keep in mind:

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'Nice guy' producer Vince Gilligan exposes his dark side with 'Breaking Bad'

Gilligan"Breaking Bad," the sly, wicked AMC drama about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who dives into the crystal meth business to ensure financial security for his family, has received tons of critical accolades and is one of the cable network's biggest hits.

Most of the attention has focused on Bryan Cranston, whose portrayal of timid teacher turned master criminal Walter White has earned him three consecutive Emmy awards for lead actor in a drama. But the show's continued success and dark plots have turned up the spotlight on Vince Gilligan, the creator and executive producer of "Breaking Bad."

Past and current colleagues say Gilligan is one of the nicest and most amiable producers working in television. But Chris Carter, the creator of "The X-Files" and Gilligan's former boss, also points out that there is a dark side to Gilligan's writing. And Gilligan acknowledges that working on the series, with its blurred exploration of morality and explosions of bloody violence, can take its toll.

"I don't have a dark alter ego, but I believe we all present one face to the world and live more comfortably with another," he said.

For more on Gilligan and how he builds the shadowy world of "Breaking Bad," read this Calendar feature.


Interview with Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston wins an Emmy, feels "gluttonous"

Full Show Tracker coverage and recaps of "Breaking Bad"

-- Greg Braxton 

Photo: Vince Gilligan on the set of "Breaking Bad." Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.

AMC brings back 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad,' sets a date for 'The Killing'

Good news for "Mad Men" fans: On Friday, during the TCA press tour, AMC announced that the Emmy-winning series will return for Season 5. No date was announced for its season premiere. Fans have been a little worried ever since Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane, tweeted, “I have no idea if there will be a season 5 of MM. I am operating under the assumption that there won’t be, until I hear otherwise.” (He later followed up on his blog that it was "a safe bet — very safe bet — that the show will return in its usual fashion.")


AMC also promised that "Breaking Bad" would begin production for its fourth season on Jan. 13. “As we ramp up production for the next season of ‘Breaking Bad,’ we look forward to returning to Albuquerque, which serves as a perfect backdrop for the evolution of Walt White's character,” said Susie Fitzgerald, AMC's senior vice president of scripted development and current programming, in a statement. “Vince Gilligan and his team deliver bold storylines that truly deliver a mesmerizing, exhilarating television experience. We look forward to an incredible fourth season.”


In addition to those two favorites, AMC set a date for its next original series, “The Killing,”  which focuses on the murder of a young girl in Seattle and the police investigation that follows. Based on the Danish hit “Forbrydelsen," it will premiere on April 3. 


-- Melissa Maerz


Photo: Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm in "Mad Men." Credit: Frank Ockenfels / Associated Press

2010 Top Scripted TV Huh? Moments


We appreciate all of the hard work writers put into their TV shows. Here are some of the moments that left us wondering a bit.

1. "Lost": They're all dead and waiting to go to heaven. Depending on who you are, this was either a very good head-scratcher or a very bad one. We loved it, even though we're sad about what it means.

2. "The Walking Dead:" Zombies unseat vampires as the coolest non-humans on TV. It's not their fault they're zombies which makes us feel for them, though they freak us out.

3. "Mad Men:" Don Draper proposes to Megan. Whoa, Don! A little foreshadowing next time, please?

4. "Breaking Bad:" Walt goes from meek chemistry teacher to big-time drug dealer to murderer. Walter, you scare us. But you're never boring and for that we love you.

5. "Glee:" Mr. Schue kisses Coach Beiste. Enough said. 

6. "Sons of Anarchy:" Jackson and his half sister are discovered half-way down the incest road by their respective mothers. Double ick.

7. "True Blood:" Bill and Sookie break up. Again. Can't we all just get along?

8. "Dexter:" Someone accepts Dexter for all that he is. How nice. We like this one.

9.  "The Event:" Aliens. Really?  All that pre-game hype and they turned out to be aliens. Possible to start over?

10. "The Good Wife:" CBS goes all sexy on us in a surprising oral sex scene between Alicia and Peter. It sure made us blush -- and they didn't even show anything!

--Yvonne Villarreal and Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: A scene from the "Lost" series finale. The castaways are waiting to go to heaven. (L-R) Ian Somerhalder, Elizabeth Mitchell, Josh Holloway, John Terry, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Sonya Walger, Henry Ian Cusick and Emilie de Ravin. Credit: ABC

Three Emmys earn Bryan Cranston a 'Saturday Night Live' guest host spot

Bryansnl The third time really WAS the charm for Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston.

The actor who just scored his third-consecutive Emmy for lead actor in a drama for "Breaking Bad" announced on ESPN Radio's Mason & Ireland show that he would be a guest host on "Saturday Night Live" Oct. 2. It will be the first appearance on the sketch comedy series for the actor, who starred as the buffoonish father in "Malcolm In The Middle" before his stint on the hit AMC drama, where he plays a chemistry teacher who gradually becomes a drug dealer.

"I'm so thrilled and excited," Cranston said.

Vince Gilligan, the creator of "Breaking Bad," said in an interview earlier this year that he was mystified that Cranston, whom he called a "courageous actor," had never been asked to host "SNL": If Bryan "hosted 'Saturday Night Live,' he would hit it out of the park."

Cranston said in a corresponding interview that he was philosophical about not being asked to host "Saturday Night Live": "Would I like to host 'Saturday Night Live?' Hell, yes, I'd love to. But it's not going to have a big impact on my life if it doesn't happen."

--Greg Braxton


Photo: Bryan Cranston                               Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images

Emmys 2010: 'Breaking Bad's' Bryan Cranston is feeling 'gluttonous'

The Emmy Awards is not just a parade for stars to show off overpriced couture frocks and sleek suits. It can also cause diabetes for the actors it awards?

Metaphorically, that is, according to Emmy king Bryan Cranston (though, judging from the sweets they provide backstage, onset diabetes is likely possible).

The “Breaking Bad” actor got his third statuette Sunday for his role as the cancer-stricken Walter White. And with him being ineligible for a chance next year — the AMC series doesn’t return until July 2011 — he’s enjoying the feast of Emmy gold while he can … even if it causes health problems.

“I'm so grateful. It's like having a great meal to do the show, and then to be awarded an Emmy is a beautiful flambé dessert, and then last year was another dessert on top of that. I feel gluttonous. And it's more than I can take in. It really is. I feel like I'm going to become a diabetic. So it's actually a reprieve that I can relax next year and let things go. It really is.”

--Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Bryan Cranston receiving his Emmys. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

Emmys 2010: 'Breaking Bad's' Anna Gunn on the red carpet

Sometimes you need to take a break from selling goods on EBay to get a little glam. Skyler White did just that. Well, Anna Gunn, the actress who plays White on "Breaking Bad" did on Emmy Sunday. The AMC show, after all, received seven nominations this year. 

Here's more from the actress.

--Yvonne Villarreal

Video credit: Amy Kaufman


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