Friday, May 22, 2009

Hello Cleveland!

Hello, and welcome to my new blog! It's been more than a year and a half since I made my last post, but I decided to preserve my ancient xanga account as a testament of how cool I was compared to the shell of a man I am now. It's quite the time capsule!

One of the main reasons I decided to start this blog was because I wanted to talk about and share my love of all things related to film, television and video games, as well as anything else that tickles my imagination. I also wanted to get back into the swing of writing on a semi-frequent basis again, as I've wasted enough time allowing myself to become stagnant. Writing has always been one of the few consistent passions in my life, and with all this extra time on my hands, I decided to spend my summer doing something more productive than picking at my navel day and night. Hopefully, this blog will be a return to form, or at the very least, provide an entertaining distraction.

To christen this post, I'd like to introduce those who aren't familiar with one of the best shows on television at the moment:

The Premise
Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher that's diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. In order to ensure his family's financial security after his passing, Walt attempts to raise $737,000 by entering the meth business with Jesse Pinkman, one of his former students. As the show progresses, so does Walt's transformation from a middle class family man to a kingpin of the meth trade.

The Players

Walter Hartwell White a.k.a. "Heisenberg" (Bryan Cranston)

The man behind the curtain, Walt is a man with nothing to lose. Diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, he justifies his foray into the meth trade by convincing himself that he is preparing his family for the worst. However, Walt's deeper motivation comes from the prospect of shedding his mid-life crisis for the much more dangerous but exciting alternative. Walt is a brilliant chemist that is easily overqualified for his day job, and previously worked at a company called Gray Matter, where his research led to a breakthrough that he never received credit for. Walt handles the production end of business while trying to keep his activities a secret from his family. His extensive background in chemistry allows him to cook top-quality meth with a signature blue tint, which has started to draw unwanted attention by the DEA. All he needs to do now is clear $737,000 before the law (or worse) catches up to him.

Jesse Pinkman a.k.a. "Captain Cook" (Aaron Paul)

Walt's partner in crime. Jesse handles the distribution end of business, along with providing the initial contacts. His relationship with his family is rocky due to his history of drug abuse, and he has a tendency to act without thinking. Although his contacts helped get their operation off the ground, they've also made way for even more complications and obstacles.

Skylar White (Anna Gunn)

Pregnant with their second child, Skylar suspects that Walt is up to no good as his demeanor becomes more distant. In spite of dealing with Marie's kleptomania, Walt's diagnosis/secretive attitude, the general pressure of her unborn baby and their unsteady financial situation, Skylar struggles to maintain an optimistic perspective and to take things in stride.

Walter Jr. White a.k.a. "Flynn" (RJ Mitte)

Walter Jr. is a high-school student with cerebral palsy, which requires him to move with the aid of crutches and gives him trouble speaking. With Walt's diminishing presence in his life, Walter Jr. is trying to establish his own identity and finds alternative father figures.

Hank Shrader (Dean Norris)

DEA agent and Walt's brother-in-law, Hank may be loud and goofy, but his heart is always in the right place and he possesses solid instincts. Hank is part of the detail that is investigating Walt and Jesse's encounter with Tuco in the desert and the identity of the mysterious "Heisenberg".

Marie Shrader (Betsy Brandt)

Skylar's sister and part-time kleptomaniac, Marie's lack of tact is made up for by her good intentions...sort of. She takes no pride in her penchant for theft, which eventually lands her in hot water.

Why you should be watching

First off, Breaking Bad's cinematography is beautifully composed and edited, the latter of which earned them an Emmy Award. The universe is established on such a solid foundation that the drama, comedy, action and suspense/horror all gel together to form a very cohesive and compelling narrative that never steps out of it's own bounds and feels very much like it's own entity. The pre-intro sequences are positively seductive and honestly deserve a separate entry of their own. This is where the show really gets to flex it's editing muscle, and not only do they work as a great foreshadowing device, but they also have a vaguely disturbing and/or surreal quality, which makes sense considering that series producer and writer Vince Gilligan also served in the same capacity for The X-Files.

Color is also a very important element in the show, and the way they utilize such a seemingly simple visual element to flesh out the characters and drive the story is nothing short of inspirational. Vince Gilligan intended for each character to have their own color scheme, and as the characters grow and develop, so do their palettes. The art direction is subtle yet incredibly effective, and the clever use of color breathes life into every aspect of the show.

One of the most consistently amazing and entertaining aspects of Breaking Bad is the sense of authenticity they bring to the characters. The writers always do an excellent job of capturing everyone's voices and making sure that the characters come first, all while tailoring them to a seamless fit for their slightly off-kilter universe. Another thing that the show should be commended for is the fact that they aren't afraid to take their time to set up the relationships, but even more important is the realism of Walt and Jesse's foray into the drug trade. Honestly, this is easily the most polarizing aspect of the show, but I personally love the fact that they want to show the most truthful scenario of what kind of challenges two middle-class shmoes with only the most basic knowledge of the business have to deal with. It's great that they're willing to pay a lot of attention to detail and have the show grounded in reality as much as possible, not to mention that Walt and Jesse have great chemistry (zing!) and their scenes together are always a joy to watch, especially with this show's penchant for dark humor which is often compared to the Coen Brothers' work.

Breaking Bad's cast is amazing, and this is never more apparent than when Bryan Cranston is on screen. The only thing I recognized him from was the goofy father in Malcolm in the Middle, and he makes a complete 180 for this role. His facial expressions manage to convey a thousand words, which makes his delivery even more of a treat. I can't praise the guy enough, and the fact that he won an Emmy for this role and managed to pull off such wildly varied characters so well gave me a newfound respect for the man, and I can't wait to watch him play Buzz Aldrin in From the Earth to the Moon.

Well, I think this wall-o-text is sufficient for a first post. If you want to learn more about the show, AMC's website is a great resource and has tons of extra videos, interviews, and all kinds of fun stuff. Cheers!


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  2. First comment!
    First follower!
    ... of many!

  3. Aaron Paul is soooo hot and sweet at Breaking Bad <3