Once again the new season of Breaking Bad has, so far, proved that the writing and plot lines from Vince Gilligan and company continue to be brilliant and captivating. This is television drama at its best!
In many ways it’s a shame that AMC is the cable channel that hosts this intriguing series about the intricate dealings of an odd pair of meth cooks who stumble into chaos and amazingly find ingenious ways out. As characters, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman have flourished beyond anyone’s expectations. To look back at the first two season’s and compare how the character arcs for these two exceptional lead characters and their supporting cast have developed is truly a work of genius. Despite the commercials and the inability to swear, include sex and nudity or graphic violence, the Breaking Bad writers have used these constraints to build intense story lines and exceptional dialog that negates the need for such R rated material.
The cold openings are a prime example of what Gilligan and his writing crew have specialized in and the most recent episode, “Madrigal”, is no exception. By opening the door to this “multifaceted manufacturing, construction and shipping concern headquartered in Hanover, Germany”, Gilligan has added a new dimension to Walter and Jesse’s future dealings with Hank and the DEA. Very intriguing indeed!
[Episode 2 - in the cold opening, Madrigal's fast food operations executive, Peter Schuler, sets up the intrigue for future plot twists.]
The real issue with being on AMC are the commercial breaks that intrude on the flow of the action. Fast forwarding through the ads becomes a nuisance and forces the viewer to momentarily disengage from the all-consuming action. Unlike HBO’s The Wire , which was equally well written and created by David Simon, Breaking Bad is limited by these constraints which leads one to think just how much more incredible the series could be if it had been picked up by Showtime or HBO. Each episode often demands a second or third viewing in order to fully appreciate the plot subtleties, superb acting and the seemingly innocuous sets where everything in the camera’s view may have some meaning or future purpose.
Reality TV for Dummies?
The other bizarre issue this season has been the pairing up of Breaking Bad with AMC’s new Small Town Security, which is a reality show about the day-to-day happenings at a dim-witted security firm, known as JJK Security, based in Ringgold, Georgia. How an audience that has become so accustomed to the sophistication and plot complexities of Breaking Bad could possibly be interested in this latest offering of a Lowest Common Denominator reality TV show is odd at best and just plain pathetic at its worst. Even some of the comments listed on AMC’s own website include gems like this. “I think we have now hit the bottom of the reality tv barrel. Sad. Just sad.”
AMC has scored big hits with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and kudos to them for hiring productions with such great writers and superb casts to make these shows the successful icons they’ve become in popular culture; but are viewers being short changed by not having these shows on the next tier in cable where the stories can flow seamlessly for an hour and without having to be promotional vehicles to gather audiences for the next throw-away TV show? It really is too bad, but again, the writers for Breaking Bad have obviously found a winning formula for getting around the constraints of commercial breaks and content limitations, it’s only the viewer who is left with the knowledge of wondering if the series could have been that much more of a satisfying experience.
The Transformation of Walter White… The mirror image version.