‘Breaking Bad’ Approaches ‘The Wire’ Levels of Television Goodness

Not exactly faint praise, because “The Wire” is one of the best series ever made for television, free or otherwise.

I didn’t expect much from “Breaking Bad,” because I am familiar with Bryan Cranston from his work on “Malcolm In The Middle,” so another series with him parading around in his underwear didn’t exactly send me running to Comcast to subscribe.

And if there was one scene with someone shaving his back, I was gone.

“Breaking Bad,” despite revolving around drugs as well, isn’t the masterwork that is “The Wire,” though what’s remarkable is that the characterization and writing are so sharp is that it comes close.  That being said, I suspect that my attachment to the series is that, since I am watching it on Netflix I have been watching the series in order, events build upon each other and there’s no lull.

Then there’s the refreshing aspect of a series that revolves around drugs and the people that use and sell them them that not only doesn’t turn the individuals involved into monsters, but actually has the audacity to show that even drug dealers can have families, pay bills, and at various times, seek redemption.

Then there’s the lack of African-Americans, which in this particular instance is refreshing.  As far as I am aware, methamphetamine isn’t exactly a “black person’s” drug–which is not to say that peoples of color do not use it–so you shouldn’t expect to see huge amounts of black people.

Cranston is an excellent actor–underwear and all, because he’s always showed significant range,–though Dean Norris, who I thought was Reggie Bannister from Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series–is also engaging and very watchable.  What interests me most about him is his ability  to swing from one emotional state to another is nothing short of remarkable, and Aaron Paul, plays a meth manufacturer who swings between being an energetic mass of inconsistencies one moment, to steely resolve the next.

Giancarlo Esposito, a veteran of Spike Lee’s films, is chilling as a drug lord that is all about business.

The creator of the series, Vince Gilligan, worked extensively on “The X-Files,” which is interesting because, if you look at the credits, John Shiban is listed as a consulting producer, who also worked on that very same show.

As if the connection to “The X-Files” weren’t more obvious, then the season one episode, “Cancer Man,” makes those connections even more apparent.

2 thoughts on “‘Breaking Bad’ Approaches ‘The Wire’ Levels of Television Goodness

  1. Well said. Breaking Bad is one of my favorite TV shows, right up there with The Wire. It’s one of those rare shows that gets *better*, not worse, with age.

    1. Gotta agree with you there. I heard about “Breaking Bad,” but assumed that it was all hype. When I started watching it on Netflix (Seasons 1-3 are streaming) I actually watched all three over a period of days. Remarkable stuff, particularly from Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn (the way she has grudgingly grown to accept what Walter is doing is remarkable in its subtlety) and Aaron Paul.

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