[flash playlist=1 w=550 h=600]
Breaking Bad, the much anticipated TV series starring Bryan Cranston airs on Sunday, January 20 at 10:00/9:00c on AMC.
New videos clips have been added to the above player. Watch the whole first scene of the first episode below.
[flv:https://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/video/bryan/Bryan-Cranston-Breaking-Bad-First-Scene-MITMVC.flv 545 300]
In a case that could be considered as life imitating art, a teacher has just been busted on meth charges.
We hope to have the full episode on the site after it airs.
Click ‘more’ for 5 reviews. Including an interview with Cranston.
Discuss in FORUM
Bryan Cranston Plays A Desperate Teacher In ‘Breaking Bad’
Bryan CranstonNEW YORK (AP) – ”Breaking Bad” has cooked up this startling premise: A decent man decides to make and sell an evil drug, crystal methamphetamine.
He’s a high school chemistry teacher who learns he has terminal cancer. He and his family already are barely scraping by. To leave his wife and kids provided for, he must put his chemistry know-how to a more lucrative purpose than lecturing to vacant teens. Cooking meth is deplorable. But it can mean big money, fast.
Not that viewers who catch the premiere episode (10 p.m. EST Sunday on AMC) will grasp right away what ”Breaking Bad” is about. The opening scene is artfully bewildering: a frantic fellow in his underpants and a gas mask is barreling through New Mexico no-man’s-land in a boxy motor home. Just one thing is immediately clear: Here is a show that will keep the viewer guessing.
Following last summer’s ambitious, Golden Globes-winning drama ”Mad Men,” AMC has further upped the ante with its second dramatic series, taking even more chances. ”Breaking Bad” dares to be bleak, heartbreaking, shocking and bitterly funny, hurtling its milquetoast hero into situations he couldn’t have imagined.
It also took a gamble by casting as the plagued Walter White an actor best-known for playing the goofy, distracted dad on ”Malcolm in the Middle” – Bryan Cranston. But from the first scene, Cranston proves he’s made a thorough transformation, leaving any trace of Hal Wilkerson in the dust of Walter’s fleeing mobile meth lab.
Inhabiting this new character wasn’t hard, says Cranston. ”Walter White is a guy who has very common flaws. To step into his shoes was a comfortable fit,” he explains. But there was more to being Walter than shoes.
”When I visualized him, I thought he should be colorless,” says Cranston. ”So we took out all the ruddiness in my face. I put a brown rinse in my hair, to take out the red highlights.” He accessorized with glasses and a nerdy Ned Flanders mustache. ”I went to the costume designer and said, ‘I think everything he wears should be taupe and sand. I think this man should blend into the scenery.”’
Cranston also gained 15 pounds, to give Walter a doughy waistline. (For later episodes, he dropped the excess weight as Walter undergoes cancer treatment.) ”Here’s a man,” says Cranston, ”who could have done a lot in his life: a high-six-figure income at a pharmaceutical firm of his choice. Maybe share in a Nobel Prize. But he didn’t reach for the brass ring, and he has lived a life of regret for 25 years. Then he gets the diagnosis.
”But the irony is, ever since he got that death threat, he’s felt more alive than ever. He’s fed up and ready to take charge. And given his set of dire circumstances, for him to use what he knows to do what he does – it seems to make sense.” In an interview, the 51-year-old Cranston is hearty and outgoing, and exudes the satisfaction of an actor who works steadily. But long ago he moved beyond that mark of success. For one thing, he can boast a special status as one of the recurring kooks on ”Seinfeld”: dentist Tim Whatley.
Then he got the hit comedy ”Malcolm,” which wrapped in 2005 after seven seasons, leaving him in the grateful position ”where you don’t have to work for the sake of working, where you have the ability to say no.” He said an enthusiastic yes to ”Breaking Bad.” He had gotten a crack at the role by chance, he says, after appearing in a play in Los Angeles directed by ”Seinfeld” chum Jason Alexander. That performance was seen by ”Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, whom Cranston had met a decade earlier while guest-starring on ”The X-Files,” where Gilligan was a writer-producer.
Gilligan has surrounded his leading man with a fine supporting cast, including Anna Gunn (”Deadwood”) as Walter’s pregnant wife, Skylar; R.J. Mitte as their teenage son, Walter Jr., whose adolescence is further burdened by his cerebral palsy; and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, a recent washout from Walter’s chemistry class who, now part of a meth ring, becomes his business partner.
Jesse and the man he still calls ”Mr. White” quickly bond as a fractious odd couple, blundering through their caper with one cruel setback after another. Never does the series glamorize the drug trade – or let Walter off the hook for his ill-advised venture. ”We’re not looking for people to accept what Walter White is doing,” says Cranston. ”We’re looking for them to understand.”
For Cranston, the hardest thing to understand was the chemistry. ”I hadn’t studied it since high school,” he says with a laugh. ”So I hung out with a chemistry professor to reacquaint myself with what a periodic table is, and an Erlenmeyer flask, and all that stuff.”
Did he really learn to cook meth? ”Yeah, I did,” says Cranston, looking surprised to admit it. ”In fact, we had DEA chemists on our set as consultants. I wanted to be sure how a chemist would hold this beaker or measure that ingredient, and so we’re going through the whole process. There is a specific way to go about it, and I did learn. ”But I’ve forgotten already,” he hastily adds, ”and I have absolutely no interest in repeating it.”
By FRAZIER MOORE AP Television Writer
Review: New AMC series features Albuquerque
Welcome to Albuquerque, Bryan Cranston.
Thanks for helping make the city look so beautiful and so seedy at the same time.
Cranston, who used to play the dad on “Malcolm in the Middle,” can share credit with “X-Files” veteran Vince Gilligan and the cinematographers on “Breaking Bad,” the latest series from AMC debuting in January.
“Breaking Bad” stars a forlorn, frumpy Cranston and the craggy New Mexico landscape in the story of a cash-poor Albuquerque high school chemistry teacher who gets a dire diagnosis and decides to use his former Nobel-track prowess to cook up some primo meth and provide a nest egg to bequeath to his wife and handicapped teen son.
It’s an interesting premise, and the producers vow that the series won’t glorify criminal behavior but merely present a good man making bad decisions for complicated reasons. The results are mixed in the debut episode.
On the one hand, Walter is imbued with an unusual sense of bravado almost immediately after receiving his terminal diagnosis. Suddenly he’s superman, staring down bullies much bigger and younger than he is and outwitting bad guys with guns.
On the other hand, Walter is often clad only in his underwear and shoes and socks (he doesn’t want the smell of meth to get on his good clothes) and almost shoots his foot off trying to figure out how to work a handgun.
It’s up to the rest of the seven-episode series to begin sorting out all the moral implications that get raised.
Albuquerque, meantime, often provides a picturesque setting, with the Sandias and mesas as pleasant backdrops. Cinematographer John Toll, whose work ranges from “Braveheart” to this year’s New Mexico-shot “Seraphim Falls,” was director of photography for the pilot. The rest of the series is credited to Rey Villalobos (“Risky Business,” “Urban Cowboy”).
While the landscape looks harsh but alluring, lurking inside innocuous suburban-looking neighborhoods are meth labs, pit bulls and seriously bad dudes.
Walter goes on a ride-along with Drug Enforcement Administration agents and watches one of these operations get taken down. When he spies a former student escaping out a window, he decides to blackmail the kid and corral him into a business proposition.
They buy an RV and drive it to the outskirts of Albuquerque, where Walter’s mad chem skills produce top-notch meth.
The main drawback in “Breaking Bad” is the gap between the lead performance and the rest. Maybe Cranston is that good, but his supporting crew is surprisingly wooden, as if Gilligan urged the actors to be mechanical in some scenes.
Anna Gunn (“Deadwood”) doesn’t bring much to the pilot as the loving, understanding wife, and Aaron Paul looked a little lost as Jesse Pinkman, Walter’s former student and new partner in crime.
Elsewhere, Walter’s students and extended family are solidly two-dimensional. We get the stereotypical hard-ass buddy cops, one Anglo, one Hispanic. (Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank, is a federal drug agent. Can you sense the tension yet?)
This whole production could easily be overwhelmed by Cranston, who was a force on the sloppy sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” and who had a memorable turn as the dentist on “Seinfeld” in the 1990s.
Cranston has thrown himself into this character, a mix of Walter Mitty and Travis Bickle. He’s pale and out of shape. His mustache is pathetic; his eyeglasses are depressing. We cringe as we watch the pilot episode establish his middle-age angst and desperation.
But often, while Cranston and his character are manic, about to burst, the rest of the gang is stuck in traditional TV Drama Land.
There’s room for improvement all around, which isn’t unusual after a pilot episode. (AMC didn’t send out copies of the other six episodes in the series. You can catch a “Making of” preview on the cable channel three times in the next week, starting tonight at 10:30.)
AMC, which started out as American Movie Classics, has begun branching out into series drama, as a sort of junior HBO. AMC struck gold this past fall by tapping the “Sopranos'” crew of writers. Matthew Weiner’s “Mad Men,” the period drama about the ad game in Manhattan in 1960, scored decent ratings and charmed critics across the board.
“Mad Men” was strong from the start, rich in character, back story and plot. “Breaking Bad” might get there, but to succeed it will have to flesh out the rest of the cast and raise the stakes for our anti-hero.
It’s hip these days to be a hardened criminal just trying to make ends meet and provide for the family. Tony Soprano and Dexter Morgan have mouths to feed and bills to pay; how they process their evil deeds can be the stuff of compelling drama.
Gilligan, perhaps, felt he needed to keep up with the Joneses and cover a lot of ground in the first episode. Walter’s transformation is rather jarring.
We get two basic-cable explicit sexual situations with Walter and his wife (named Skyler, for some reason), which are intended to be not-so-subtle bookends to show us how defeated Walter starts out and how macho it can be to walk on the wrong side of the law.
In the end, the pilot episode offers a message that doesn’t rise much above that of your typical rap video: deal drugs, earn cash and flaunt your virility with the ladies.
We’ll see whether “Breaking Bad” rises above that credo and returns to Albuquerque to shoot more episodes.
TV Review – Breaking Bad by Ken Tucker
Walter White (Malcolm in the Middle’s Bryan Cranston) is a weary high school chemistry teacher with a bad mustache, a middle-aged, suburban drone. Until he’s diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
This sets him free. Or free enough to get into the crystal-meth business in order to raise enough money for his wife (Deadwood’s Anna Gunn, nicely grumpy) and cerebral palsy-afflicted son (RJ Mitte, nicely smart-alecky) to live on after he croaks, and for him to have a few thrills while he’s at it. Walt partners with grungy teen meth-head Jesse (Big Love’s Aaron Paul), who’s trying to launch his own tweak factory. With Walt’s chemistry expertise, they cook up primo ice that attracts both profits and murderous enemies.
Breaking Bad is created by Vince Gilligan, who helped oversee some of The X-Files’ most witty-rococo episodes (”Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,”’ fans?). This is AMC’s stab at a Showtime-y, Weeds-like series — which could have stunk. Instead, there are some twists you’ll never see coming, and Cranston gives the kind of shaded, comic-dramatic performance that always bubbled just below the surface of his manic Malcolm dad. Breaking Bad mixes desperation and deviousness to yield a volatile, valuable product. B+
High Schools These Days
The broke chemistry teacher in Breaking Bad turns out to be pretty handy in a meth lab. By John Leonard
Vince Gilligan, the X-Files veteran who created Breaking Bad, has made it clear that he dreamed up his series idea “several years before Weeds”—and therefore any resemblance between the two shows is purely coincidental. While both ask us to identify with aggrieved suburbanites reduced to dealing drugs to make ends meet, I see no reason not to believe him. Bryan Cranston, whose Walter White in Breaking Bad is a high-school chemistry teacher cooking up crystal meth in a used RV in the New Mexican desert, shouldn’t remind anybody of Mary-Louise Parker, whose Nancy Botwin in Weeds is a soccer mom selling pot in pastries and popcorn to the whiter part of a Southern California town, unless you’re dumb, numb, and weird. Weeds, moreover, required half a dozen episodes before turning semigothic, whereas Breaking Bad can’t even get through its pilot hour without gunplay, sirens, and poison gas.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Even before he gets bad medical news from the hospital, Walter is already moonlighting as a cashier in a car wash to help pay for his Albuquerque house with the desolate patio and leaf-filled swimming pool, his stay-at-home wife (Anna Gunn) who writes short stories and is pregnant again, and a teenage son (RJ Mitte) with cerebral palsy. Now this lifelong nonsmoker with “a brain the size of Wisconsin” is informed that he has inoperable lung cancer, with a year or two left to live if he’s lucky. Well, what is he always telling his apathetic students about chemistry as a metaphor for transformation? Staring into a breakfast plate of “veggie bacon” that smells like Band-Aids, Walter is in desperate need of some risk-taking changes in his anal-retentive life. If Takashi Shimura’s Everyman in Ikiru doesn’t come immediately to mind, maybe William H. Macy’s car salesman in Fargo will substitute.
But never mind Kurosawa and the Coen brothers. Follow Walter from a drug-bust ride-along with his brother-in-law, the DEA agent (Dean Norris), to the garage of an ex-student (Aaron Paul) whose previous partner in the methamphetamine biz has just been arrested to the cubbyhole kitchen of a Winnebago, where Walter proves to be an “artist” at the batching of magic crystals. This mild-mannered high-school teacher is now spending an inordinate amount of time on the road, in a gas mask and his underwear, dodging bullets and (literally) laundering money. In fact, from a chemical reaction peculiar to the cinematography of the Southwest desert, the very colors of Breaking Bad seem to have been laundered: As Walter moves from Mister Peepers to Sunbelt drug lord, the picture shifts from earth-tone beige to livid blue, asparagus green, and piss yellow.
Further to confound anybody still hoping for Weeds-type sight gags (the stolen goat, the sauna sex, the teddy-bear nanny cam), there will be prescribed courses not just in chemistry but also in chemotherapy. From chemotherapy, one shouldn’t expect a lot of laughs. We are being slipped instead something metaphorical about wayward leukocytes and cells gone wrong. It must be said that Cranston, a sitcom stalwart perhaps best known as hairy Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, embodies all these transformations as if he were himself a lost city of the plains—a toppled tower, a ruined wall, a bundle of whispering bones. Not enough of Breaking Bad was available for preview to decide whether the supporting cast will eventually satisfy as much as Weeds regulars like Elizabeth Perkins, Kevin Nealon, Tonye Patano, and Justin Kirk, but Cranston’s Walter is already a winner. He reminds me of Robin Williams’s Tommy Wilhelm in the film version of Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day, back in 1986, when Robin Williams was still wonderful to watch. Which in turn makes me wonder at the number of Walters there are in our literature, from Melville and Twain to Saul Bellow, William Kennedy, and E.L. Doctorow, deracinated walkers on the wild side, urban outlaws as pop icons, on the lam from farm chores, doctors, cops, and schoolmarms.
Vince Gilligan Talks About ‘Breaking Bad’
On January 20, AMC is premiering Breaking Bad, a new dramedy that revolves around a high school chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, sets up a meth lab in an RV in order to provide for his wife and handicapped son. Creator Vince Gilligan, the man behind the highly-successful X-Files series, is unsure of what exactly drove him to develop a show with the particular premise.
“I’m not really sure what inspired it. All I can remember is that I was talking to an old college buddy – also a writer – about two years ago. We were joking on the phone about how we should quit writing and find another line of work. Somehow, cooking meth came up as one possibility,” Villigan told the Times-Dispatch. “Obviously, we were joking. But this character sprung into my head. I’ve never had that happen to me before.”
“This character” is named Walt White, and is essayed by veteran actor Bryan Cranston. Most known for playing Hal on the family comedy Malcolm in the Middle, Cranston “brings an innate likability to the role,” and possesses all the necessary skills to make the character work.
“He is a genuinely good and decent individual, and he’s a man of character in real life. And he’s a wonderful actor. He’s incredibly funny in person and on screen,” Villigan said of Cranston. “If you have a character who’s dying and cooking meth, you’d better have some lighter moments… This character is doing some dark deeds, and we have to like the guy who’s playing Walt on some deep down level so we stay around for the ride.”
Villigan says that he is not attempting to present viewers with a “morality tale” with Breaking Bad. Rather, the series is focused on how one man has chosen to reinvent himself given the circumstances.
“I love… [stories of redemption], but I didn’t know how to tell one in any way, shape or form,” he explained. “So I figured I could turn it on its ear and not tell a story of redemption, but one about a guy with blinders on his eyes who decides to reinvent himself and burn his candle on both ends and really live… The audience doesn’t have to agree with everything he’s doing, like Tony Soprano. But at least we understand why he’s doing it.”