Breaking Bad: The Complete Series DVD|
From veteran producers Vince Gilligan and Mark Johnson comes this water cooler drama about an unremarkable and uncharismatic chemistry teacher Walter who discovers new passion in his life after he learns he has terminal cancer. Once a successful chemist Walter now teaches apathetic high school students and works part-time at a car wash to help support his family – wife Skyler who earns a modest income buying and selling items on eBay and son Walter Jr. a strong-willed 17-year-old suffering from cerebral palsy. Realizing he has nothing but his family left to live for Walter's new sense of purpose reinvigorates him into a man of action as he turns to an exciting life of crime to provide for the ones he loves.from£28.95 | RRP:
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Average Rating for Breaking Bad: The Complete Series - 5 out of 5
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Breaking Bad: The Complete SeriesGeorge Orton
This isn't a review. It's a cry for help.
You see, over the past few months I've become hooked on a highly addictive substance, known by the street name of "BB". Don't look at me that way: when I first started off, I thought I could take it. A few episodes here and there when I felt like it: I wasn't doing anyone any harm. And I could stop at any time. Or so I thought. Because before long, I found that I'd worked my way through Breaking Bad in its entirety - and if you're not careful, you could get addicted too.
It usually starts innocently enough. A friend or coworker offers you your first hit on DVD, and you accept it as much out of politeness as anything else. After all, the concept sounds interesting enough: a high-school chemistry teacher, Walter White, is struck down with lung cancer, and decides that he's going to use the last few months of his life to earn some cash for his family through criminal means. And against all expectations, those criminal means involve becoming a drugs kingpin, using Walter's knowledge of science to manufacture the highest-grade crystal meth that the underworld has ever seen.
It only takes a single opening episode to set out this premise, but by the time you finish it you'll already be irretrievably intrigued to see what comes next. Yes, even at this early stage, the show has got you exactly where it wants you - because even from the very start, you'll find the plotlines involving Walter's friends and family (his wife Skyler and his son Walt Jr.) to be so unpredictable and compelling that you'll simply have to see what's next. And in a flash, that's it: you find that you're addicted.
But frankly, there aren't many better shows to become addicted to than this. I haven't seen many series that can remain as true to their central premise while still offering up so many unexpected and riveting story developments, and pull them off with such intelligence and panache. Without spoiling any later developments, the show manages to make every new wrinkle in Walter's life completely logical, while still keeping the audience guessing at every stage - making it incredibly satisfying to watch.
Looking back from the closing episodes of Breaking Bad's final season (I've watched the entire series in just a couple of months, such is the seriousness of my BB problem), it seems staggering to remember how the show's characters started out - but at the same time, none of the developments ever feels forced or contrived, instead acting as an in-depth exploration of how Walter's decisions might affect him, turning him from the mild-mannered schoolteacher we meet in the very first episode into the evil creature that we see in the last.
Undoubtedly, the key to this success is Bryan Cranston's performance as Walter. Before watching Breaking Bad, I knew him best as Malcolm's Dad from Malcolm in the Middle, but since seeing this series I don't think I'll ever be able to look at him in the same way. Over the course of the series, he runs the gamut of emotion from meekness to moral conflictedness to cold-hearted villainy, and he does it all so effectively that you'll never question the notion that these are all different aspects of the same complex character.
And Cranston is supported by a great ensemble of secondary players too, whether it's Aaron Paul as Walter's partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman (who goes from being a reprehensible dropout loser to being the closest thing the show has to a moral centre), Dean Norris as Walter's brother-in-law Hank (who just happens to be a high-ranking cop specialising in busting drug dealers), or Bob Odenkirk as sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, who infuses the show with some wonderful over-the-top humour just when it needs it.
To tell you how the overarching story of the show plays out would be to ruin the surprise, but suffice it to say that the series is packed with smart writing (including a clever use of mysterious flashforwards that foreshadow future events), gobsmacking cliffhangers and oh-my-god-he-didn't-just-do-that character moments that simply demand that you sit up and take notice of every episode.
In short, this is the greatest show to have graced television since The Sopranos. And for that reason, my cry for help isn't to help wean me off Breaking Bad - it's to help me spread the word about just how brilliant it is.
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