I review the first season of AMC’s critically acclaimed television show Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and more.
Because I didn’t really start watching television on a scale beyond simply Doctor Who and Arrow up until early 2013, I had a lot of catching up to do. There’s a reason why I only started Battlestar Galactica the previous year, as well as the likes of Sons of Anarchy, True Blood, The Wire and Breaking Bad. I simply wasn’t interested in television before that. But over the past two years, that’s rapidly changed, and now I’m watching at least three episodes of television a day. So it was only a matter of time until I got around to watching what has been regarded as the best television show apart from The Wire (which I am also catching up on, albeit at a slower pace), and I was hooked from the first episode. Now moving my way through Season 2, Breaking Bad has dragged me and refused to let me go, and it’ll do the same for you if you let it, because it is one of those ‘one more episode’ type series that will have you captivated from the get go.
You’ll almost certainly be aware of the synopsis by now, but just in case you aren’t, Breaking Bad follows high-school teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) as he hits rock bottom in his life when he finds out that he has terminal cancer, whilst struggling to make a living which is a situation that will most likely not improve when Skyler (Anna Gunn), his wife, gives birth. And he also has to look after his disabled son, Walter White Jr. (RJ Mitte). Realising that his illness will destroy his family’s wealth (what little of it there is), Walter teams up with former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in order to make money by selling Crystal Meth. As he moves up the food chain, he starts to attract the attention of his wife’s sister’s husband Hank, (Dean Norris), who is a DEA Agent.
The show starts off with an incredibly strong pilot that will have you hooked straight away. It hits the ground running and although few of the middle episodes are slower paced, thanks to the writer’s strike of the year that the first season came out in, it is only seven episodes long. Set in New Mexico, Albuquerque, It tells the story of Walter’s first expansion into the drug trade, encountering one problem after another with small time drug dealers. It explores the themes of morality and devotion to family in great depth, making it a very character driven drama. Actions have consequences and the cast portray these characters to very high standards, with Bryan Cranston knocking it out of the park as Walter White. Aaron Paul also impresses as Jesse Pinkman and the rest of the cast also delivers some good performances.
With the backdrop of Albuquerque, you really get a sense of location with the show being incredibly well shot. The cinematography is great and this show looks visually stunning, making it a damn good television series, with pretty much everything spot on. Some elements of humour prevent it from being an incredibly dark show, it isn’t afraid to pull its punches in the first season as the groundwork for the series is being laid down. Even if the finale seems rather rushed, it still remains incredibly strong.
At this point, I can imagine most of the people who have wanted to watch Breaking Bad will have already started watching it, but if you, like me, are coming to television later than everybody else then I can recommend it to just about anyone interested in sampling one of the greatest television shows on the market. With it available on Netflix in the UK and the USA – and with all seasons currently available on DVD, there’s really no reason for you not to have given it a try. Highly Recommended!