Breaking Bad or just bad?....
I spotted this stuck on a lamp post near Morrison's in Chorlton. It's instantly recognisable as the drawing of Walter White, or Heisenberg if you like, from the American series, Breaking Bad.
In spite of being one of the most lauded TV series of all time, it's not, until recently, ever been aired on TV in the UK which is amazing given its profile. If you wanted to see it you had to have access to NETFLIX or some such streaming service. In the UK it became something that only a few in the know watched. TV types heaped praise on the series and it won all kinds of awards even though the vast majority of the population have never watched it. And still haven't though we've all heard about it. In the UK, though we might complain about it, we are spoiled by the high standards of programming on terrestrial TV. Even though we have access to 100s of channels on SKY and cable TV, most of us still do the bulk of our TV watching on the BBC and the independent channels that we have had since the 1950s.
Breaking Bad had, apparently, had the first series shown on some offshoot of Channel 5 sometime in 2008. People watched in their 100s and it was dropped. Then the acclaim started in America but neither the BBC or one of the other channels took it up and, amazingly, it ended up on streaming sites, which aren't popular here.
Last summer a new channel started on Freeview, Spike, and announced that it was going to show Breaking Bad for the first time in the UK. They didn't make it easy. The channel was hard to find and, instead of showing us an episode a week, they decided to do one a night, at 11pm! I was busy with work, really busy and I was putting the finishing touches to my St. Ann's Square garden but I decided to watch it to see what the fuss was about. I discovered I could see it on Catch Up on Channel 5 so I saw it all on my iPad and on the laptop.
So what did I think? I've been told it's the best TV....ever. The first series was setting it all up. The basic premise of the show, that a mild mannered, downtrodden chemistry teacher, finds he has cancer and turns to making drugs to pay for his care and support his family, just doesn't work in the UK. Here it would go 'I'm sorry to tell you, Mr. White, that you have cancer, your treatment will start, in a world class cancer facility, inmmediatly.' At that point Walter would have a lot to think about but paying for the treatment would not be one of those things.
The first series merged into the second and then the third and I can't honestly remember what happened in any of them. It was all kind of beige. People who had seen it told me to persevere and it would get better. And I wanted to get to the point where it got to be 'must see TV' and 'the best thing ever.' I didn't like any of the characters, I couldn't empathise with any. The whiny son, the passive agressive wife, the stupid sister, the thick cop. And stupid Jesse, who needed a good slap. I was amused by Saul but do lawyers like that really exist, even in America? And the violence was sickening. Blood splattered all over the screen is no substitute for good writing.
I did like the fourth series where the cool, controlled drug baron, Gus, went head to head with Walter and I really hoped that they were going to simultaneously wipe each other out in the last episode of that season but the director decided to do another series. There was some obscure European connection and a blond Nazi kid. The last season limped to a uncertain end where we aren't sure if Walter actually died. I suppose it gives them the opportunity to resurrect the programme again should they need the money.
It was touch and go but I got through it all. But it was 60 hours I won't get back. What did I enjoy? I did enjoy the stunning shots of the New Mexico deserts with those huge skies and vast horizons. And I liked Albequeque, a city so ugly that it had that weird beauty that ugly things can have.
And did anyone get The Flintstones references or was that just me? Albequeque could be a modern version of Bedrock. The houses, especially Hank and Marie's, did look like Fred and Wilma's place. And Walter and Hank looked like Fred and Barney and, like Fred and Barney, had married women way out of their league. Skylar/Wilma and Marie/Betty. So there you go.