Reviews: Breaking Bad – The Complete First Season DVD

The first season of AMC’s Breaking Bad is a phenomenally unrelenting, harsh, honest character study. It’s fascinating viewing, constantly setting up expectations only to shatter them (in a good way).

Breaking Bad is the story of a man forced to forgo morality in order to support his family. It’s a clean, honest guy turning to crime after a life-changing and perspective altering discovery. It’s deep, dark, fun, funny and addictive television.

Let’s be honest here; the main reason Breaking Bad succeeds at painting a believable world is because that world pivots on it’s perfectly performed central character Walter White, played by Brian Cranston (previously seen in Seinfeld as Tim Whatley and Malcolm In The Middle as father Hal). Walter is a complicated, divided, realistic character. He’s sympathetic while at times being utterly frustrating – he’s human. A lot of the credit behind why Walter is sympathetic rather than just pathetic has to go to Cranston; his comedic background informs a lot of his choices and it keeps our perspective of Walter from devolving into abject despair. Cranston won an Emmy for this portrayal, and he damn sure deserved it.

I found this DVD in the comedy section of my local entertainment store and in a way, it is a comedy. A dark, dark, Happiness style comedy, sure, but still a comedy. It may be more of a drama than a comedy, but it’s certainly not exclusively one or the other. BB deals with serious, resonant themes. Throughout the course of a season we confront morality, death, disease, drugs, crime, responsibility and love. The whole time, however, the show manages to keep us entertained through the performances of a great ensemble cast and some creative direction. We never, as an audience, feel depressed, even though there are some pretty dark events occurring and some excruciating choices made onscreen. This is an enjoyable show.

The DVD set features a heap of excellent Special Features, including a bunch of audio commentaries (my favourite special feature ever for anything), deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews and more. This is a suburban, middle-aged Fight Club. Check it out.

by Ben Vernel


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