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[TEN BEST]

by Alex Ashe

TEN BEST REASONS I’LL MISS BREAKING BAD RANDOMLY COMPILED

THE FIRST-RATE ACTING

Since 2008, Bryan Cranston has delivered 58 Sunday master classes with his titanic portrayal of Walter White, a performance made even more impressive by the actor’s previous comedic role on “Malcolm in the Middle.” The acting, from top to bottom, has been terrific, with Aaron Paul’s Jesse, Dean Norris’ Hank and Bob Odenkirk’s Saul among the particularly revelatory performances.

THe EVER-CHANGING PLOT DYNAMICS

Just a quick glance at Walter White’s evolution since the first episode is enough to chart how much the show’s dynamics have changed over the years. It’s remained so fascinating because it’s never content with returning to the status quo. It continues to tease scenarios the audience never would have considered, doing so as recently as Sunday’s episode.

RICH, DEVELOPED

characters Since its start, this show has featured a bevy of terrifically developed, nuanced characters. Whether they’re writing a main character or an ancillary one, the writing staff does an excellent job in fleshing out its characters. For instance, the supporting characters on “Breaking Bad” have more depth than the primary ones on a show like “The Walking Dead.”

NOT-ALWAYS-LINEAR NARRATIVE

One can’t accurately describe narrative as “Breaking Bad” as linear or non-linear. For the most part, the show tells its story by the book, but it keeps viewers on their toes by inserting a flash-forward at the beginning of a season, or by occasionally shuffling the order of events mid-episode, as in the most recent episode.

ENDING WHILE IT’S STILL A TERRIFIC SHOW

Make no mistake. It’s a blessing that “Breaking Bad,” unlike similar shows “Weeds” and “Dexter,” is finishing before its quality begins diminishing. But the fact remains that we will soon lose an outstanding show at the top of its game, and that’s still not an easy pill to swallow, even if it’s for the best.

THE MESMERIZING VISUALS

The show’s continuously exquisite direction and cinematography were perhaps the first of its qualities to make an impression with viewers. Shot-forshot, the show’s appearance has been captivating and tasteful, whether making use of established techniques like timelapse photography or more innovative ones like GoPro-aided POV shots.

THE EXCELLENT SOUND DEPARTMENT

These guys do an excellent job of conveying mood and theme through noises and songs. Sometimes they’ll score a scene merely with a ringing noise. Other times they’ll use a song over a montage, as they appropriately did with Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion” in the midseason finale. Whatever the case, you can always expect their choices to be pitch-perfect.

WRITING HITS ALL THE RIGHt NOTES

The show’s midseason premiere exemplified its ability to be both hilarious and excruciatingly suspenseful. Before it concludes with one of its most thrilling and intense scenes ever, the episode takes a detour as Badger goes on a long-winded “Star Trek” fan-fiction diatribe to the engaged Skinny Pete and the thoroughly disinterested Jesse.

ITS POPULARITY IS STILL RISING

At a certain point, the ending of a television show becomes a cultural event. That will definitely be the case with “Breaking Bad,” a show so good it has achieved the rare feat of increasing its viewership with each successive season, nearly doubling its audience since last year. While I’m not arguing for another season, it would have been really cool to see the show become even more ubiquitous, something akin to when a staggering 21 percent of Americans watched serial drama archetype “Twin Peaks” premiere in 1990.

THE RELENTLESS PACING

Perhaps the most thoroughly exciting television series of all-time, “Breaking Bad” had me hooked from the opening scene of its pilot. Five years later, it’s engrossing as ever, having raised the stakes with a briskly-paced plot, of which dull moments are few and far between. It’s astonishing that a show with such an action-packed plot has yet jump the shark, but it’s a testament to the show’s staff, starting with showrunner Vince Gilligan, who has never steered the plot towards treachery it can’t avert in a reasonable fashion. Knock on wood, but if any show is likely to end in a blaze of glory full of excitement and resolution, it’s “Breaking Bad.”

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