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Replacing Walter White

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Waiting for Breaking Bad

From Aaron Paul (aka Jesse Pinkman)'s twitter feed

 

Lately, I've been having trouble sleeping. There are many factors at play. While not the most salient, the most bloggable of my insomniaic triggers is my reoccuring fear, an antagonistic dread, that I've missed out on something truly great. So when this feeling strikes, I do what I always do, I google for answers. 

breaking bad google

 

July 15th is the premiere of Breaking Bad's fifth and final season. I haven't missed it! Maybe if I had a TV, I wouldn't have to google the same phrase every few months. Although I haven’t necessarily been waiting around all summer for this show, I have, unconsciously, been in search of a replacement.

[For those fo you who haven't seen the first four seasons of this notable AMC drama, the rest of us envy you. You are naive to the suspense of a chemistry teacher and family man turned desperate meth-cooking drug lord on a path toward self destruction and/or redemption. You have never experienced breakfast table symbolism of this caliber. You don't know why Hank, the DEA agent, now covets geodes or why Marie wears purple. You have never craved curly fries from Los Pollos Hermanos. You can start here with care. Be prepared to lose sleep and productive waking hours. The temptation to "Play Next Episode" will be too strong to resist.]

The Position

 

Summary:  A temporary/seasonal television drama that satisfies this viewer's addiction to suspense, tragic irony, dark family dynamics, and the contemplation of 'the big questions' of good and evil, justice and honor, independence and obligation.


Duties and Responsibilities:

The program is expected to

 

  • Provide compelling and complex character development utilizing high-quality acting and dialogue
  • Exercise a high-level understanding of storytelling. This should include a mastery of linear, non-linear, concurrent, procedural, and long-form serial narrative techniques
  • Utilize visual and sylistic techniques that meet the diverse entertainment needs of its viewers. This includes themes of a sexual, political, violent, or moral nature with the condition that these techniques support the larger artistic mission of the series
  • Challenge the aesthetic, political, moral, and cultural limits of its viewers and inform the viewers on new areas of social life--be it illegal drug manufacturing, Appalachian clan behavior, white collar crime, or rogue private detection
  • Act in accordance with the creator's artistic vision, while also submitting that vision to rigorous tests, be it the Canons of television, film, and written narrative and/or outside influences
  • Garner some degree of critical acclaim and/or fan-generated support (i.e. #sixseasonsandamovie) that is commensurate with its quality
  • Advance the overall standard for television and/or serial narratives

Minimum Qualifications

  • A realistic television drama in mini-series or full-series format
  • English fluency, spoken or subtitles
  • Atleast one season available on DVD. Netflix streaming preferred
  • Zombies, vampires, werewolves, and serial killers-as-complicated-good-guys need not apply
  • Dynamic duo characters and auteurs are encouraged to apply

 

The Contenders
 

Justified

Justified Raylan and Boyd

The protagonist, Raylan Givins (based on the Elmore Leonard short story, pictured on the right) has one foot in his rural Kentucky outlaw roots and one foot in his sharp-shooting US Marshall high-road. What I love about Justified: The love-hate relationship between Raylan and antagonist/coal-mine buddy Boyd Crowder (pictured on the left). Both are propelled by pride, power, and their intractable Southern resolve. Also, the contrast between the rural southern environment and Raylan's impeccably tailored wardrobe is visually awesome.

Terriers
 terriers

These two scruffy, down and out, incredibly flawed private detectives have some of the wittiest dialog on tv. Moreover, the show offers a fresh take on the detective procedural. Again, with a dynamic duo, I can't tell who plays the Jessie character and who plays the Walt. This bro-team stands on its own. As hard as you may fall for this great comic drama, I suggest not letting your guard down, there is only one season.

Sherlock

sherlock gif
This modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle stories makes it the best things I've seen in the few months since Breaking Bad season 4. Every episode is an adaptation of a different story, with Sherlock 2.0 depicted as a deductive genius with librarian-level Internet search skills combined with a super memory and astounding powers of observation. Sherlock, as a friend, is flawed, and Dr. Watson--a Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD--humanizes his mate in a way that is adorable and stokes the flames of its Internet fandom. Sherlock does something I haven't seen in other TV shows; it transposes computer and smartphone text into the scene (see above). When Sherlock searches the weather forecasts for instances of rain within a three-hour radius of London in the past 24 hours, his search terms and results show up next to him. The audience sees both the action of searching, and the results, all within the frame. As viewers, we can experience all of Sherlock and Watson's texts while simultaneously reading their facial expressions, rather than the traditional "here's a computer monitor, and a fictional search engine, and the sound of someone typing." It is genius! The icing on the cake of this cinematically-beautiful and well-plotted series: The hour and a half long format. The extra thirty minutes makes a huge difference in the episode-bound resolutions.

Mad Men

don and peggy

While not exactly a two-man centered drama, I watch Mad Men mostly for the compelling relationship between Don and Peggy. The mentor and mentee, they are the embodiment of eras at odds. And when we, as viewers, get to witness their small and infrequent moments of intimacy and vulnerability and mutual understanding, it is like receiving a long-awaited gift. Mad Men is the antithesis of Breaking Bad for me. It is restrained, saturated in historical pop-culture references that prompt long Wikipedia search trails. Like Breaking Bad, it also uses internal and interpersonal character conflict to develop its themes, but if anything, Mad Men is the controlled, white collar version of the gun-and-axe suspense, RV meth cookers-type drama.

The attempted-but-discarded pile: The Walking Dead (too Lost-y), Dexter (too bloody), Deadwood (too gratuitously vulgar), Battlestar Gallactica (too sci fi)

In the end, I think Breaking Bad is pretty irreplaceable. The most we can hope for is a methadone to its blue meth. Until July 15th, try the above, or amuse yourself (as I did) with exploring Walter White's neighborhood on Google maps.

walter white google maps

 

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Comments

TV SHOW

It is nice tv show  ,I think <a href="http://InternetArchive.info/138">The Walking Dead</a>is the best television Series Drama of America Awards

Death, many deaths I’ll sing

Sorry for the delayed response. Unfortunately, a few months of blog comments got deleted, so I'm missing the beginning of our dialogue. So, what are your thoughts after seeing the first half of this season? Towards the beginning, I was convinced that Skylar would become central in the plot. My hope really was that she would replace Walter, in an sense, responding to the call to protect her family and taking it upon herself to kill Walter. Now, I'm not so sure.

 

Yes, I agree that some of the details like Walter and Hank both recovering from such severe/terminal health conditions is far-fetched, but what in the show isn't far fetched? The show is just this on-going, intense moral exercise, and the details are a means to that end.  

 

What are you looking forward to in the last half of the season? I've missed Hank, and while the aha-moment ending was disatisfying for me, I feel like the first half of the 5th season, Walt was intoxicated with pride/ego/safety and lacked the sense of danger or risk that hooks so many viewers.  Hank will hopefully bring that in the second half.

 

In the meantime, I can't really put together another What to Watch list, but a reading cocktail list:

 

imagine

 

 

 

     Imagine: How Creativity Works  by Jonah Lehrer

     I was reminded of this book in the final scene, with Hank's moment of inspiration on the toilet (also half-jokingly, i'd compare Walter's journey with the   author's, both brought down by their own internalized sense of success.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

leaves of grass

    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     Leaves of Grass & This essay comparing Walt Whitman to Walter White. I'm not sure what influence the poem has had on the season or the series as a whole, but now we have some time to figure it out.

thoughts on the season so far

1.  Walt and methlamine lady are going to make a great couple.

2. Kind of odd that only a year has passed in the show while five have passed in the real world.

3. Why doesn't Walt go back to teaching chemistry? Can't he see this is going to end badly? Duh.

4. I don't appreciate the fact that both Walt and Hank have both managed to escape from terminal health issues. It makes me feel like my intelligence is being underestimated. "Terminal cancer and full-body paralysis? Just write 'em out - we got a hit show on our hands!" Feels lazy, like somebody hired a couple of feckless writers from Lost.

5. I don't understand why Skyler has turned reactionary. The woman that learned to bend men to her will last season is now just... typical.

I could go on but this is supposed to be a comment, not a blog entry, right? So, can I ask if you have any thoughts of your own along these lines? I'm also wondering what happened to my last comment and your reply. (Remember, we both find Walking Dead overrated?) They were up for a week or two and then they disappeared.

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