Breaking Bad

This comes late, but I just happened to be thinking about it.

So I loved Breaking Bad. I really loved it. I completely identified with Walt in the beginning, as I think I was supposed to. And I eventually came to loath him, as I think I was supposed to. In fact, the last episode (I’ll get to that in a minute) basically told me to loath him. And that all makes sense. I am introduced to a nebbish, who fortune shits on. And slowly he gains a measure of control of his life. I cheered him on, despite my misgivings because fundamentally he doesn’t seem bad. A facilitator of badness, but not intrinsically bad.

As time goes on, as Walt passes up opportunity after opportunity to gracefully exit the meth cooking game, what made him so likable and understandable and such an underdog starts to fall away. Here’s where I think me and a lot of other fans of the show part ways. I saw a guy make the leap from plucky underdog to violent, selfish control-freak criminal. One who couldn’t even establish a successful ongoing criminal enterprise because of his greed and self centeredness. It seems like a large number of people never stopped seeing him as the underdog, never stopped rooting for him to get his fair share, or something. All while he got his share and more. And became a murderer in the mean time. And let’s be clear, eventually, he was killing purely for his own gain, not to protect himself or his family.

I haven’t read any interviews with the creators but I have to think they wanted people to see him as I eventually came to see him. Why else include the scene in the final episode where he admits it wasn’t about his family. They tell us why he because what he did, for purely selfish reason. He LIKED being a violent murderous criminal that was feared.

Speaking of that last episode. BLEEEECH! Really, every thing ends up all tidy in a nice neat bow and Walt gets to die on his terms? Gross. Really it was a gross ending. I felt so let down by the show. It was as if they’d given up and just gave us what amounted to a fairytale ending (to the extent that a show about a meth cook can have a fairytale ending, which I admit is not that much). Bad guys killed bloodily? Check! Family gets the money? Check! Jesse set free? Check! Walt’s last moments in his precious lab? Checkaroo!

So I’ve decided that Norm MacDonald is right. He said on twitter that he thought the whole ending was just the final thought os a dying man, a la “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. Norm thinks that Walt died in the car from the cancer, surrounded by police guns drawn. The keys dropping into his hand are the start of the fevered last moments of his brain playing out a final fantasy. Read his tweets from around Oct 2 and you’ll see it all makes sense. A few higlights: Walter walks in and out of heavily guarded homes with zero difficulty, but we don’t see how. He managed to get ricin into a sealed Stevia packet. He calmly built a remote controlled murder machine and mounted it in a car trunk in a day.

This interpretation makes an unbelievable amount of sense and lets me not think badly of Vince Gilligan. So I choose it. And you should too.

Advertisements

American Idol, A Love/Hate Thing

I’ve watched every season since season 2. And I hate pretty much everything about it. I really don’t know exactly why I watch it. Maybe it’s the very rare performance that really is great. Like in season 3 when Fantasia Barrino sang “Summertime”. But is all the stuff I hate (everything else) worth it? I suppose it must be, I still watch.

Luckily my viewing habits for the show mean I don’t have to suffer through to much. I Tivo the whole thing then fast forward through everyone talking that isn’t Simon. The contestants, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Ryan Seacrest are all boring and basically say the same thing. Simon is at least honest and occasionally interesting. Even the songs only get 30 seconds in most cases. I’d guess that I only hear one song in five all the way through. The results show is even easier, skip to the end and I’m done.

But, I do watch it, and even dig talking about it. Maybe I can blame it on a tumor in my brain?

Breaking Bad

I watched this new AMC show last night.

Bryan Cranston (best known to me as the father in Malcolm in the Middle) plays a Walter White, a wimpy high school chemistry teacher who finds that he has terminal lung cancer. He decides he’ll spend his last time on earth making a ton of money by cooking meth. Hijinks, as they so often do, ensue.

It’s a good start to a series. Bryan Cranston is the perfect guy for this role. He’s the prototypically put upon loving husband. From his real enthusiasm for science and love for his family and utter discouragement at fate, he’s convincing. The supporting cast are all good, with his young partner in crime being the weakest. He’s a fairly run of the mill smart ass reprobate, but it’s one episode, so I give that the benefit of the doubt. This first episode set up everything in a fairly straight forward way. You get to see the players, and the action starts off with a bang as out hero kills two drug dealers (it was self defense, sort of).

The show is clearing cashing in on the popularity of Weeds. But it doesn’t ape the Showtime show much. It’s a lot grittier and way more manic. Which is perfect a show about meth, I suppose. My one sort-of critique of the show is that there’s no time given to Walter’s decision to “break bad”. You’re given the reasons, sure. His family is badly cash strapped and he knows his time on earth is limited, so why not make as much cash for the wife he loves and his disabled son (cerebral palsy) while he can. and then he happens to see the chance on a ride-along with his brother-in-law. But that’s not enough for me. But I think for someone, even in those circumstances, to go to such extremes, there needs to be more. Maybe there is.

Alias

I started watching the first season Alias a week ago. I got it because I need to supplement my viewing material during workouts. Tivo can only work so hard and I’ve increased my time on the bike to an hour at least.

I’d been hearing about this show since it debuted.  A lot of people whose opinions I respect, and who like the same sort of stuff I like, had been raving about it. That was a while ago, the show has been off the air for over a year. It lasted 5 seasons, a pretty good run for a show that was never a major part of pop culture. I saw the first season at Borders recently at a steep discount, so I picked it up.

I am so smart! What a great show. I’ve watched about 6 episodes and the time flies when it’s on. The basic story is that she’s a spy, recruited in college by SD6, what she thinks is a branch of the CIA but is in fact a sort of NGO of spying. They kill her fiance, she becomes a double agent, finds out dad is a double agent too, and then tries to bring down the organization from within. All while discovering the truth about her past. The usual.

The success of the show with me hinges entirely on Jennifer Garner. First, she’s utterly gorgeous to look at. A true beauty in every way. Second, a pretty damn good actress. She’s convincing, even when the action is pretty unbelievable, she pulls it off with real emotion. Third, what a looker! And forth, she’s a grade A action hero. If this show is anything to go by, she could easily become the newest action hero of our time. And lastly, man what a babe!

There’s a remake of The Bionic Woman new this season, and I’ve been watching it. It’s not bad, but I don’t think it’s doing great in the ratings, and can see why. There’s just no hook. It does a few things well, but not great. What I realize is that this incarnation of The Bionic Woman is trying desperately to be the new Alias, and failing. In large part because of the actresses involved. Both shows are working the spy angle and the hot chick angle and the mysterious past, but one works and one doesn’t.

I have a coupon for Borders for tomorrow and Tuesday only. I’m gonna get the rest of the seasons of Alias.

Steven Colbert

There was a great interview of Stephen Colbert today on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Colbert hosts a show on Comedy Central called The Colbert Report. It comes on after the almost impossibly perfect Daily Show. Watch that show if you haven’t. But Colbert might be the more interesting host. He basically plays a character called “Stephen Colbert”. Stephen is ultra conservative, ultra right wing, ultra self absorbed, and ultra wrong.

That sounds like it might get to be too much real fast, but it doesn’t. It’s a dead on send up of every ridiculous right wing talk show host, starting with the guy Colbert calls “Papa Bear”, Bill O’Reilly. In fact, we only watch it a few times a week, not because it gets old, but because it can get a bit painful watching him do such a good job. And that’s another reason the show is so great. It doesn’t slide off into easy gags when things get uncomfortable. Colbert stays right in character.

Tim Says: Check it out!

And to prove my love for Stewart and Colbert, this is the t-shirt I’m wearing right now: Stewart/Colbert ‘08

%d bloggers like this: