The Light from the TV Shows: Saying Goodbye to the Best ‘Bad’ Ever

I don’t know if you know this about me, but…I kinda like “Breaking Bad.” I realize this is probably the first you’re hearing of it, because I’m usually pretty closed-mouthed about it, rarely hyping the series to anyone and almost never mentioning that I watch it, but, yeah, I guess it’s a pretty all-right show, y’know?

breaking bad

All right, enough pretending: obviously, I think “Breaking Bad” is basically the best show in the history of television, which is what I tell anyone who asks me what I think of it. You may disagree with my position, and that would be your right, but no series has ever captured my attention and proven so fascinating to me in quite the same fashion as this one, and when it ends its run on Sunday evening, I’ll be glad that it went out on the terms established by its creator, Vince Gilligan, but it’s going to leave a hole in my TV viewing habits that I’m going to have a very hard time filling.

With the show wrapping up, I decided it’d be fun to offer up a retrospective of all of the folks affiliated with “Breaking Bad” that I’ve talked to over the course of its run. If you’ve followed my coverage of the series over the years, you probably won’t be surprised to see just how many conversations I’ve had since Bullz-Eye first started spotlighting the show in 2009, but they’ve been a uniformly wonderful bunch, all of whom regularly made a point of expressing their gratitude for the coverage and praise that we gave the show. In turn, I’ve always tried to thank them for the gift they’ve given us.

BreakingBadCompleteSeries

Goodbye, “Breaking Bad.” Thanks for the meth, but most of all, thanks for the memories. You’ve given me plenty of great ones over the course of these five seasons, and they won’t soon be forgotten…especially not now that I’ve got all of ‘em in one place! Mind you, when I say that, I’m actually speaking of these interviews, but it could also be said of the upcoming complete-series set – seen above – which, in addition to all of the episodes, includes a ridiculous amount of bonus stuff, both on the discs (most notably “No Half Measures,” a two-hour documentary about the making of the final eight episodes) and off (a Los Pollos Hermanos apron!), that no self-respecting fan should be expected to live without.

But enough of my yakkin’. On with the interviews!

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Breaking Bad 4.11 – Go Insane

Let’s get it out of the way now: not only was this the best episode of the season to date – which, given the competition, is a pretty damned impressive feat in and of itself – but it has instantly vaulted into the elite category known as The Best “Breaking Bad” Episodes of All Time.

This is not hyperbole. This is fact.

And with this having been said, let’s get to talking about the proceedings, shall we?

What’s going down ‘round the hospital? Oh, wait, this isn’t a hospital: these are some of Gus’s guys, a rag-tag team of doctors who were clearly prepared for the eventuality that his preventative measures might not do the trick. Unfortunately, they’re not nearly as interested in helping out poor Mike, as evidence by when Jesse says, “This man needs help,” and the lead physician replies matter-of-factly, “This man pays my salary.”

Meanwhile, back at the SuperLab, Walt’s continuing to make with the meth under the watchful eye of Gus’s right-hand man, but as Walt reminds him for what must surely be the hundredth time, “If Pinkman’s gone, I’m done.” So what’s up with Walt’s figures being off? Is he just frazzled and not paying attention? If so, you have to admit that’s a little understandable, what with everything going on in his world…like, for instance, teaming up with Hank on a stakeout of the Los Pollos Hermanos warehouse. Walt’s less than subtle when asking about the status of the cartel, but it works: Hank’s heard rumblings that a major massacre went down, big even by cartel standards. In return, Hank starts asking about the bruises on his face, once again offering him a friendly ear, but Walt stiffens and snaps, “I’m done explaining myself.”

Looks like they found time to help Mike after all. Jesse discovers just how much advance planning Gus put into the goings-on in Mexico, and it’s clear that, although he’s shocked, he has considerable respect for the man. Moments later, the man himself emerges, looking tired but on his way to recovery. Unfortunately, Mike’s still going to be laid up for a week or more, but Gus assures Jesse that he’ll send for their friend as soon as he’s well enough to travel. The lead doc smiles and prescribes water and rest to Gus, and I swear, I think this was the most human I think we’ve ever seen Gus look. I don’t know how far they go back, but it’s got to be pretty damned far. And speaking of far, it’s a hell of a stroll back to the border, and it’s even longer once Gus casually comments that Jesse can run the lab himself. Jesse understands the implications…and he does not appreciate them.

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Breaking Bad 4.10 – “Either we’re all going home or none of us are.”

No violence warning this week? So that means it’ll be a nice, relaxing affair, right? Suuuuuuuuuuuuure it will…

Things kick off with Gus, Mike, and Jesse loitering in a field, but their loitering is short-lived, as a candy apple red airplane flies down and waits for them to embark. Gus and Mike do so without hesitation. Jesse…? Not so much. He does indeed step aboard, however, and after Mike closes the door, they’re off the ground and into the wild blue yonder. You can practically hear Jesse’s jangling nerves, which is no doubt why Gus offers him four words delivered quietly but with certainty: “You can do this.” What are we to make of the look on Mike’s face? Is he less confident of Jesse, or does he perhaps think the whole thing is a bad idea? We shall see…

“You have reached Walter White. At the tone, please state your name, number, and the reason for your call. Thank you.” No, thank you, Walt…but where the hell are you? Not with your wife and child, anyway, that’s for sure. As a result, he’s not there to see Junior’s face when Skyler presents him with his birthday present…which, all things being equal, Skyler probably wishes she’d missed, too. Clearly, her efforts to pick out a car that was actually in a price range that they could afford have only served to remind him of the car that his dad bought him that he wasn’t allowed to keep. You can kind of understand his reaction, but you can see the hurt it’s caused Skyler, and it’s pretty depressing, actually.

Saul Goodman looks nervous and antsy. We’ve seen him look like this when he’s getting twitchy about Gus or Mike, but why would Ted Beneke inspire such a reaction? Possibly because he’s been tasked with selling an incredibly ridiculous story: that the monetary holdings of Ted’s late great aunt from Luxembourg, who died eight years ago, are now his. Of course, this is a relative Ted’s been completely unaware of up to this point – possibly (but not definitely) because she doesn’t actually exist…although if this is Skyler’s plan, I have to believe she’s done the research and can at least back up the genealogy – but that doesn’t stop him from getting a big, fat smile on his face when he hears how much money he’s come into. Will he grow suspicious of the timing? We’ll see…

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Gangster fan alert: “Scarface” Blu-ray hits the mean streets today

It’s true. You can say hello to Tony Montana’s little 1080p friends and their DVD buddies in stores nationwide as of right now and, naturally, the gangstery promotional wheels have been turning. We were lucky enough to be invited too a DVD release party at which fans of director Brian De Palma and writer Oliver Stone’s 1983 gangland spectacle got to view a pretty interesting Q&A featuring producer Martin Bregman and “Scarface” cast members Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Steven Bauer (who turns out to be something of an unembarrassed fanboy for the film which largely launched his career), and a distinctively, er, regal Al Pacino.

For a limited time, you can actually check out the complete Q&A from the event for yourself via Livestream.

A couple of interesting thoughts from the Q&A. A lot of props were given to hip hop artists for their part in turning “Scarface” from a movie with a mixed reputation — many of the initial reviews were far from positive — to a movie very many regard as a classic. (The event was followed by a performance by rapper Ludacris.)

A moment this film geek appreciated was when Mr. Pacino recounts how he says the genesis of his “Scarface” began when he saw Howard Hawks’ 1932 “Scarface,” starring Paul Muni as a gangster inspired by Al Capone, at the old Tiffany Theater on the Sunset Strip, at the time one of L.A.’s best revival houses. After the flip we have a short video from the event and maybe a clip or two from the both “Scarfaces.”

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