TV Review: So Bad it’s Good

Searching for the next must-see television show? Look no further than Breaking Bad, writes Bríd Doherty

If you have an Internet TV void in your life to be filled, AMC’s Breaking Bad may be just what you need. Their first original series, Mad Men, proved to be one of the most fantastic shows of recent years. While the two shows have little in common, except for one thematic concern: both depict the disreputable acts that seemingly normal family men are actually capable of carrying out.

Breaking Bad is based around Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. When his family are plagued by financial troubles, Walter realises that when he passes, he will leave his pregnant wife and cerebral palsy-afflicted son with nothing.

The cogs of Walter’s mind are set into motion, as he tries to work out a means of making sufficient money to support his family. While watching television one afternoon, he sees a raid on a local methamphetamine (or crystal meth) lab, and is quickly struck by the large quantities of cash scattered across the room.

Inspired by the potential for earning big bucks, Walter pairs up with an old student of his who is already involved in meth production and distribution. They purchase an RV, create a rolling meth lab, drive it out to the rugged New Mexico desert and begin a marathon “cook” session. Although an unlikely pair, Walter’s chemistry skills and desire for perfection result in the two producing the most coveted meth in New Mexico.

The precedent for the show has been set and as the series continues, the two become more deeply involved in the New Mexico drug scene – a pursuit which is fraught with unhappy consequences. Walter was once a timid worrier, but by standing at death’s door, he has come to life and unleashed a whole new and darker dimension of himself. Throw in Walter’s brother in law, a DEA agent, Walter’s suspicious wife, and a smattering of crazed drug lords into the mix and the real problems for the two begin.

Breaking Bad has undoubtedly brought an old star back to life, and Malcolm in the Middle‘s Bryan Cranston is riveting as a chemistry teacher who finds a more commercial use for his skills. He has won three Emmys for “Outstanding Lead Actor” with the role. The rest of the cast are equally convincing.

Breaking Bad is perfectly constructed and runs like clockwork, never dragging or feeling unoriginal. US fans are currently awaiting the show’s fourth season which will air in July 2011. This means that there is plenty of time to spend on Megavideo, acquainting yourself with Walter White and the trials and tribulations of cooking meth.