Over time the dynamic of television viewing has changed.
What once was a model build around a full season of 20+ episodes has evolved into a more defined (and often shorter) design that seems to be the new direction of the industry. A shining example of that is AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” which tonight wraps up the first part of its fifth and final season.
Like its cast of characters, nothing has ever come easy for “Breaking Bad.” Originally rejected by several networks and then literally forced to fight for viewers on premiere night against playoff football, this is a series that should by all accounts not be the greatest threat to network sibling “Mad Men’s” attempt at Emmy history. Yet it is! “Bad” has thrived and survived and now stands as one of the greatest underdog stories in modern television history.
If you had any doubt of just how good the show is, then just look at what it has accomplished in its brief fifth season run. Over the first seven episodes of this season, “Breaking Bad” has broken all the usual clichés that follow series with newfound success. Each episode has a clear and well developed purpose to its overall endgame, which makes tonight’s climax so anticipated. Unlike other shows on TV, there is no filler. It’s like watching a quarterback execute a perfect two minute drill with the game on the line or a surgeon operating with exact precision and not even blinking. That’s the genius of series creator Vince Gilligan at play.
From the Emmy-winning acting combo of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul to a supporting cast comprised of some of the industry’s most talented actors, “Breaking Bad” is not your ordinary TV show. In fact many doubted it would even stand a chance on television’s biggest night, but again the show defied expectations. With the possible exception of Cranston, nobody was more floored than Gilligan, when his star took what would become the first of three consecutive Best Actor Emmy awards. Gilligan recently elaborated on that to the Los Angeles Times’ Martin Miller,
“I’m always surprised and never take it for granted, but nothing will ever top that first year. That knocked me out of my chair. When Bryan won, I screamed out in joy from the audience and in one breath I screamed myself hoarse.”
During the most recent of those three wins, Cranston and Gilligan got an even nicer surprise when Paul picked up his first win in the supporting category. This year, both actors are again favorites in those categories however Paul will have to contend with co-star (and rising Hollywood force) Giancarlo Esposito who from 2009 to 2011 played the brilliantly evil Gustavo Fring. In fact, along with Jared Harris of “Mad Men,” reigning champ Peter Dinklage of “Game Of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey’s” powerful pair of Brendan Coyle and Jim Carter the supporting category will be one of the most interesting to see play out.
Yet just as “Breaking Bad” almost never got made, it also almost never got a chance to properly reach its conclusion. As the result of a “disagreement” with AMC and series distributor Sony, the show could have just as easily gone in another direction (or even just gone away period), but Gilligan wanted to pay back the loyal fans that supported them from day one and found a way to make their situation work. Instead of one last full season, “Bad” split into two half seasons which from the network perspective is a dream scenario as it doubles their Emmy presence and sales life on DVD/Blu-Ray.
However, for fans it meant another prolonged absence. Yet Gilligan responded by cramming a full season worth of action and plot progression into such a short period of time that in the end audiences may need a break to catch their breath.
“Breaking Bad” airs tonight at 10p.m. on AMC. You can find AMC locally on your cable provider by clicking here and you can find more information about the series by clicking here.
So what’s your take New York? Did you enjoy this season? Are you excited for tonight’s finale? Hit the comments and let us know.
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