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Breaking Bad: Hal Becomes a Meth Dealer


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#1

Cornballer

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Posted Nov 30, 2007 @ 4:31 PM

Bryan Cranston (Hal on Malcolm in the Middle) stars in this AMC original series, which premieres Jan. 20. From the web site:

Break Bad (v.) 1. To challenge convention 2. To defy authority 3. To raise hell

Chemistry: the study of change. Apply heat and, boom, no going back. Meet Walter White, high school chemistry teacher. Sleepwalking through life when, boom, a terminal diagnosis changes everything. Liberates him. Empowers him to use his chemistry skills anew: to man a rolling drug lab and finance the future for his struggling family. It's an uncontrolled experiment with the American dream. And it finally wakes him up. BREAKING BAD: Change the Equation.

The series premieres January 2008.


A more detailed description from The Futon Critic explains the premise further -- the main character has a child with cerebal palsy, and is driven to his life of crime by a cancer diagnosis.

I'm going to be blunt. This is the most jaw-droppingly dark premise for a TV series I've ever seen. There's some parallels to Weeds, but meth is a lot darker and more destructive than reefer, and the main character is in a much more hopeless situation.

Cranston is an incredibly likable actor (and the pilot appears to employ his talent for running around in his underwear), but the show is going to have to walk a tricky line to keep the audience's sympathy. Curious to see how this goes...

#2

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Posted Dec 30, 2007 @ 1:11 AM

I'm going to be blunt. This is the most jaw-droppingly dark premise for a TV series I've ever seen. There's some parallels to Weeds, but meth is a lot darker and more destructive than reefer, and the main character is in a much more hopeless situation.

I was watching a repeat of Mad Men's season finale on Thursday and AMC ran a fifteen minute preview of this show which included clips and cast interviews. It's a very dark premise but if it's done well, it looks like it'll be very funny as well.

Cranston is an incredibly likable actor (and the pilot appears to employ his talent for running around in his underwear), but the show is going to have to walk a tricky line to keep the audience's sympathy. Curious to see how this goes...

Me too. I'm actually really looking forward to it now. If the show is quality, I don't think it'll have much trouble keeping an audience's sympathy. Audiences have embraced quite a few dark central characters in recent years. I think the fact that the main character acknowledges he's doing a bad thing but doesn't give a fuck because he's dying will actually make it easier. Self awareness tends to help.

#3

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Posted Dec 31, 2007 @ 1:47 PM

I read a bit in a recent issue of Newsweek about this series. The kicker was a quote from Cranston:"You put me in a pair of tighty-whities, you're giving the people what they want."

I'm not sure I can wait.

#4

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Posted Jan 4, 2008 @ 11:29 PM

The more I see of this show the more interesting it looks. Anna Gunn (who played Mrs. Bullock on Deadwood) plays Bryan's wife and she's a great actress. Also the clips of the show on AMC's website look very promising.

AMC had a real find with Mad Men, maybe they're becoming a network with a quality original voice.

#5

jratliff

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Posted Jan 19, 2008 @ 11:10 PM

Surprised to not see more posts on this show, which premiers tomorrow. I'm hoping it can fill the hole left by Dexter, guess that's the darkness hole. I'm particularly attracted to a show that deals with middle class security melting away, cause I feel surrounded by that.

#6

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:07 AM

I love AMC for giving us Mad Men. I'm hoping that the quality of Breaking Bad is half as good. Also, I liked the preview clips I saw at AMC.com. And I am also a fan of Dexter and the dark-edged theme that this show appears to contain.

#7

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:28 AM

The Tivo is set! The reviewer on NPR -- not sure if it was Bianculli or someone else -- liked it.

#8

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 8:20 PM

I'm really looking forward to watching the first episode, AMC already has Mad Men and I'm hoping this will be another good show from them. The preview clip was interesting, but I'm hoping that isn't the end of the story and that they're doing a rewind and "tell it from the beginning", I generally don't like episodes structured like that, let alone whole shows.

#9

jezebelandworse

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:10 PM

I recently got hooked on Malcolm in the Middle. I enjoy Bryan's work on that show so I decided to tune in and see if I liked this show. I thought it was rather interesting and I think it's a keeper. It's worth tuning in and watching next week imo. I hope the quality stays as good as the pilot episode. Imo I think they have a hit on their hands.

#10

Fisher King

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:14 PM

I really liked the first episode. Anyone know how many episodes will air and if the season was completed pre-strike?

Edited by Fisher King, Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:16 PM.


#11

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:24 PM

I liked th show too. I want to see how Walt is going to change over the course of the season. How is the cancer going to affect him. How will thwarting the law affect him? These are the things I am most interested in seeing happen to him.

He doesnt seem as hapless as Nancy Botwin does in Weeds. He knows what the hell he is doing in the lab, he knows quality product. It seems like his partner is going to be the hapless one here. Going to the brother of his former partner whom he thought was still in jail? What did he fail Economics in high school as well?

I'm interested in the show if not yet hooked. Have it set up as a series on the ole DVR so I won't miss it at least.

#12

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Posted Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:57 PM

I was pleased with the first episode. It proves that you can have a little action and adventure in a pilot without being brain dead! BC and AP have great chemistry together (no pun intended!). It took me a while for it to sink in, but I think I will probably get hooked on this show.

#13

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 12:05 AM

Never watched Malcolm in the Middle, so Bryan Cranston is a revelation for me in BB. I recently saw the movie "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," and this reminded me of that a little: the terrors of middle class life leading to crime. Pilot was very well done, but I wonder if this show is really going to deal with the reallity of the hell that is the meth world. I finally lost interest in Weeds because it seemed to refuse to take seriously the complexities of the main character's world. For me, to be funny, dark comedy has to live in this real, painful, scary world. Terminal lung cancer may help with that!!

#14

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 12:21 AM

Will all the episodes be commercial-free, or is it just for the premiere?
I liked it & plan to add it to my regular viewing schedule. Fingers crossed for Frankie Muniz in a cameo as a meth head.

#15

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 1:50 AM

I really liked it, too, and I have to say, I didn't even notice the lack of commercials! Whoever paid for that is probably sad that I didn't turn it on early enough to see who did it (or leave it on long enough at the end?).

I'm a big Cranston fan, and I think he's great here. Aaron Paul (who I had to look up to find that I remember him from Big Love was really good too. I'm looking forward to watching more.

I am a little bit freaked out thinking that the writers did research and found that it's somehow possible to faint one day and find out you have inoperable cancer. OK really freaked out. I'm calling my doctor on Tuesday.

#16

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 2:19 AM

Will all the episodes be commercial-free, or is it just for the premiere?

I think it's just for the premiere. The subsequent airings had small commercial breaks. IIRC, Mad Men also debuted without commercials and definitely ended with a commercial-free episode.

I liked it too although I expected a bit more comedy. Yes comedy despite the very dark subject matter.

I finally lost interest in Weeds because it seemed to refuse to take seriously the complexities of the main character's world.


Bryan Cranston refers to Breaking Bad as an "edgier Weeds" in this TV Guide interview. I've never seen Weeds but I wouldn't be surprised if they deal with how ugly meth is.

I really liked the first episode. Anyone know how many episodes will air and if the season was completed pre-strike?

IMDb lists eight episodes and I think that's about right.

#17

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 2:30 AM

Bryan Cranston is the Man, y'all. Seriously, I can think of few actors who are that consistently willing to totally "commit to the bit". He's really gifted at physical expression and comedy, and seems without even the slightest hint of self-consciousness.

Uh, I'm a fan, if you couldn't tell.

Also, can i mention that i totally loved the scene where he fucking owns the bully that was mocking his son?

#18

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 3:46 AM

IMDb lists eight episodes and I think that's about right.

Thank you for that info, Irlandesa!

#19

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 10:44 AM

Breaking Bad could be a very dangerous show to have on TV during a post-SiCKO, recessionary presidential election year.

Remember that SiCKO was about the underinsured, not the uninsured as evidenced by Walter's ambulance ride (which was curiously cut out of the second showing). It's one thing for a MILF-y Jewish widow to get into the weed game but we CANNOT have middle class, erectile dysfunctional white men moonlighting at minimum wage jobs being pushed to the edge and going off the grid. (And what does it say about America when a teacher's salary and benefits can't sustain a family?) It only took three weeks for Walter to go from veggie bacon to standing in the middle of the desert in his underwear with a gun.

Walter really could be your kid's chemistry teacher--or your neighbor. How many Walters are out there who are perilously close to foreclosure or defaulting on credit cards? Or just one serious illness or accident away from financial ruin? Like Walter's brother-in-law said, meth is easy money until you get caught. And after seeing what meth is made of, why the HELL would anyone ingest that sh*t into their body?

Oh, and Bryan Cranston is excellent.

I can't wait to see what AMC will come up with next after Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

#20

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 11:56 AM

AMC is two for two. The pilot for Breaking Bad was really good and kept me guessing for the entire hour. I thought it was going to be a Damages like show where the first scene sets up the entire premise for the season, but I was dead wrong. Walter's cancer scare makes the show more interesting because you want to know how and when the story is going to end. Also, how many seasons they can have before it becomes to farfetched. Or will they keep the story of each season within a few months or weeks. I also thought Anna Gunn was wonderful in her role as the wife and I really felt for the son with cerebral palsy.

No matter what, I'm pretty fascinated by the show and hope it continues to deliver some good television. I feel we have been very deprived lately because of the strike, and I'm really sick of having to resort to Idol for my TV fix.

#21

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 1:11 PM

Fingers crossed for Frankie Muniz in a cameo as a meth head.

Heh. Reason enough to keep watching.

I really enjoyed the show, and for me, most of that is because of Bryan Cranston. He really sold this for me, through his subtle and powerful acting. I wonder what middle-aged chemistry teachers around the country are thinking.

AMC is three for three with me with original series. I really like Shootout (which I think nobody watches), adore Mad Men, and now this.

Part of me, the stupid part that can't just get into it and forget about the 'business' of cable, was already wondering, after one episode, what could they do for a second season? But then again, I thought the same thing about Damages.

#22

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 3:49 PM

I liked it a lot. But I'm a sucker for these "American dream in tatters" shows -- this and Weeds and the Riches. Maybe even Mad Men.

I'm intrigued that we're not really getting much of Walt's point of view spelled out for us. I mean, we see what he's doing, and we can kind of put the pieces together, but it's not all out there, in conversation or voiceover or flashback, etc.

Edited to add: Re: a second season, I'd speculate that it'll turn out that he might live longer -- that'd put him in a real pickle, no?

Edited by starchystarch, Jan 21, 2008 @ 3:50 PM.


#23

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 4:40 PM

Quick question for yall. Does anybody know the name of the song playing at the very end of the episode? Just wondering.\

Nevermind. Just found it. It's called Out of Time Man by Mickey Harvey.

Edited by jezebelandworse, Jan 22, 2008 @ 1:46 AM.


#24

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 5:41 PM

I tried to expect little from the premiere but that wasn't necessary. I think I'm officially hooked. Cranston is amazing and unflinchingly delivers a great performance. Can I just say it took me some time to figure out where I had seen Anna before, despite my utter loyalty to Deadwood?

You might be interested in this piece in The New York Times this past Sunday. Hopefully you can log in and view it immediately. Drugs, a Dad and his Midlife Crisis. Cranston gives a great quote about being asked to play the role of Hal.

#25

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 6:10 PM

What stuck me funny was that the first two or three minutes of the episode (Bryan Cranston speeding down the freeway in an RV, wearing only his underwear and a gas mask while sirens blare in the distance) could've easily been a scene from Malcolm in the Middle. Until the dead bodies, that is. All in all, it looks like a great show.

#26

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 6:22 PM

I really liked it, too, and I have to say, I didn't even notice the lack of commercials!

I was so intrigued by the show that I didn't even notice the lack of commercials until my husband pointed it out at the end. Definitely a keeper. I'm very glad that I happened to catch an article about in TV Guide; otherwise I never would have known it was on.

I too was wondering just how badly US teachers were compensated? Is it realistic that he would need to work a second job just to make ends meet, or is this just a situation of living beyond your means coming back to bite you in the ass?

Did anyone else notice that they muted the F-word and blurred some breasts? I wonder why they would film those things if they weren't going to show them? Are they really planning that far ahead to the DVD releases?

#27

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 6:37 PM

What I really like about Mad Men and now Breaking Bad as well is that AMC is taking the chance that there are adult viewers out there. These shows are about grown-ups dealing with grown-up issues. They give us credit for being complex, thinking human beings, and are presenting shows with characters that are the same. I hope the other networks pick up on this trend.

#28

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 6:44 PM

Ammit, I wondered why the words were bleeped also. Years ago, AMC presented movies uncut and uncensored, but not for some time. If this is an original series, then why didn't they just use what they consider acceptable words? Mad Men didn't do any bleeping, did it?

#29

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 7:02 PM

I too was wondering just how badly US teachers were compensated? Is it realistic that he would need to work a second job just to make ends meet, or is this just a situation of living beyond your means coming back to bite you in the ass?

It depends on where you teach. I knew a lot of beginning teachers who would have a second job or summer job to supplement their income as well as take on coaching/advising responsibilities to earn a little bit more. Some worked to be able to afford to do more things. Others worked to earn money so they could pursue a Masters which allows them to go up the pay ladder. And after they get their Masters, many states require that teachers routinely take professional development classes to keep renewing their licenses. Some school districts cover a teacher's cost for these classes while others do not.

Since it looks like his wife is pretty much a stay at home mother, my guess is the three of them, soon to be four, are living off of what he makes. If that's the case, I find it very realistic that he'd have a second job. The only thing I thought was a bit unrealistic is that it'd be at a car wash. Most teachers I knew either worked in bars, restaurants or in retail stores that offered employee discounts. (Hey, why not get double benefits from a second job?)

Did anyone else notice that they muted the F-word and blurred some breasts?

I wonder if they shopped this to one of the other cable networks first.

Cranston gives a great quote about being asked to play the role of Hal.

That was a great quote. I love Cranston in the role but no doubt, William H. Macy would've rocked it as well.

#30

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Posted Jan 21, 2008 @ 7:49 PM

Having mentioned Shootout above, I forgot to mention that part of the show focused on Breaking Bad, and interviewed Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston.

There's a clip of some sorts on the website, here.