Breaking Bad 4.2 – “Go Home, Walter.”

Tonight’s episode begins with a lesson for all casting directors: if you’re on the lookout for a grizzled-looking good ol’ boy who’s filled to the gills with folksy wisdom, you need look no further than Jim Beaver. You’ve seen him on “Deadwood” and “John from Cincinnati,” you’ve seen him on “Supernatural” and “Harper’s Island.” Accept no substitutes: Jim Beaver’s got what you need, and he delivers every time…and, yes, that includes tonight, when he played Lawson, an :::cough, cough::: independent businessman helping Walt to procure a handgun.

It’s pretty clear that most of what Walt knows about guns came from watching TV westerns, because every time he draws his weapon, he looks desperately like he’s trying to be the fastest gun in the west. Lawson offers up a lot of helpful advice, including a beautifully delivered line explaining why Walt should stick with a .38 special over an automatic: “If you can’t get it done with five, then you’re into spray-and-pray, in which case I wouldn’t count on another six sealing the deal.” Lawson tries to be the gun dealer with the heart of gold, recognizing Walt’s handicap as a marksman (“You’re gonna want to practice your draw…a lot“) even pointing out the merits of buying legally over illegally, but when Walt refuses to concede that the gun will be used for anything other than defense, he has little choice but to shrug and say, “I’m happy to take your money.” The next time we see Walt, it’s clear that he’s taken Lawson’s advice about practicing his draw to heart…as well he should’ve. You know, I think you have to wonder just how much of Lawson was on the pages of George Mastras’s script and how much was turned into gold simply by Beaver’s pitch-perfect delivery, but either way, Lawson = awesome.

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Breaking Bad 4.1 – “Well…? Get back to work!”

Hey, everybody, Gale’s okay! Gee, I guess Jesse’s bullet missed him after all, so…

Oh. Never mind. It’s a flashback. But, hey, at least now we know how the superlab first came into being. And we also know the sad irony that Gale is directly responsible for Gus bringing Walt into the business in the first place. So obsessive was he with his concern about the quality of the meth he was making – more concerned, even, than Gus himself – that he simply couldn’t comprehend that Gus wouldn’t want to work with someone like that, even risking the possibility of talking himself out of a job by saying of Walt, “If he’s not (a professional), I don’t know what that makes me.”

Well, as it turns out, Gale, what is makes you is dead. But, then, I think we all pretty much knew that when Season 3 faded to black. Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.

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Bullz-Eye meets Bryan Cranston on the “Breaking Bad” set

When you’re an easily-amused TV critic, every day is filled with wonderful surprises which range from the arrival of an advance screener of an episode of one of your favorite shows to the opportunity to interview one of your favorite actors. Once in awhile, though, something arrives via E-mail which blows your mind completely…and, in this case, it was a personal letter from Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that personal a letter. It was sent to everyone in the Television Critics Association, so it kicked off with “Dear TCA Member” rather than a cheerily specific “Hi, Will!”  Still, it’s not that big an organization (there are only a few hundred folks within its ranks), so it’s not like this was the TV critic equivalent of getting a piece of mail addressed to Current Occupant. Besides, once I read the letter, any issues that I may have had with the lack of personalization had evaporated like excess meth.

It went a little something like this…

Dear TCA Member:

First of all, this letter is long overdue.  I’ve wanted to thank you for honoring me with the greatly coveted award of best actor in a drama series back when it was still fresh.  My apologies.  I was deeply appreciative.  Someday I’ll be able to tell my grandkids that I once beat out the fabulous Glenn Close. They’ll look at me with wonder in their eyes and ask, “Who’s he?”

I thought of how regretful it was that I was unable to thank you all personally…and then it hit me: why can’t I?

I would like to personally invite you to visit the “Breaking Bad” set in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the next few weeks we will be shooting the finale of what promises to be a powerful new season. Vince Gilligan himself will be directing.  We would love the opportunity to welcome you to the world of “Breaking Bad,” meet and hang out with the cast and our amazing crew, take pictures on our sets, receive some sweet swag, and enjoy the outstanding Tex-Mex cuisine New Mexico has to offer.

I really hope you take us up on this – but if you can’t break away for a visit, I hope this letter will at least convey the depth of my gratitude.

Maybe someday you’ll be able to tell your grandkids that you once visited Bryan Cranston in New Mexico.  Your grandchildren would look to you with wonder in their eyes and ask:  “Who the hell is Byron Crabstone?”

Hope to see you in the ‘Land of Enchantment.’

Thank you, and may your 2010 be a prosperous and healthy one.

Bryan Cranston

Needless to say, it was an offer that I could not refuse. Nor, for that matter, could Bullz-Eye’s illustrious editor-in-chief, Jamey Codding, who…well, he has used the phrase “tagged along” when referring to his attendance on the trip, but as the single biggest “Breaking Bad” fan amongst the Bullz-Eye staff, it’s fair to say that he more than held his own during the course of the trip when it came to quizzing the cast and crew about the intricacies of the show. We’ll be offering you a lengthier look into our little adventure as we inch ever closer to the premiere of the series’ third season, which kicks off on March 21st, but there are some thing things that, by law, we can’t discuss until the season finale. No, seriously, we signed some papers. It’s all very official. I mean, you wouldn’t want us to end up behind bars, would you?

We didn’t think so.

In the meantime, though, we thought we’d at least offer up a brief glimpse into what we experienced during our short but über-sweet trip.

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