Sunday, March 21, 2010

As heard on Breaking Bad—Paul Rothman's "It's a Good Night"

Yesterday, there was an AMC best of Breaking Bad mini-marathon. There's a scene in the pilot {s01, e01} of Jesse "slinging meth" all across Albuquerque, set to Paul Rothman's "It's a Good Night." Above is a mashup of Harvey Birdman and the same song. Harvey Birdman is hit and miss, although I do recall a funny episode where Fred Flintstone was the Dabba Don à la Tony Soprano::

I've watched Breaking Bad over the past 2 years and felt it was very uneven. Some parts were excellent, while others are meh. The Walt character {Brian Cranston} is a very complex with his ability to compartmentalize his life and his illegal and immoral actions. What seemingly starts out as an altruistic act of generating money for his family and his cancer treatments morphs into a study of the ego of a man whose square life has given him a feeling of being on the outside looking in. Sort of like watching a switch go off in the head of his Malcolm in the Middle character. Jesse {Aaron Paul} is the perfect foil as the ex-student who bridges Walt's supreme meth-cooking abilities as a chemist of some note to the mean streets of Albuquerque's meth trade. The two are a clash of socioeconomic status and, at first, values, but over time Walt's values start to converge with Jesse's, as he gets wrapped up in his money-making mission. While some may characterize Walt as a surrogate parental figure for Jesse, I see the two as locked in a co-dependence. The writing, particularly with respect to Jesse and the meth players is tight yo. It gives the audience a sense of being let into the inside underworld of the meth trade.

Where the show falls flat is the dynamics involving Walt home front. How Walt's duplicity affect his wife and the interactions with his friends who are now millionaires and offered to help Walt financially just don't work for me. The dialogue and the storylines leave me flat, as they're often not fleshed out and unconvincing.

I find Heather Havrilesky's take on the show at the start of season two to be worth a chuckle, but perhaps she needed to up her dose of antidepressants::
"Breaking Bad" has so many redeeming qualities, from its low-key, almost mean-spirited sense of humor to its stark, artistic shots of the Albuquerque sky to the patient pace with which its story unfolds, that it seems a shame to miss any of it just because we're accustomed to more sugary, cheerful tales. Even so, watching this show can feel like stumbling onto online photos of a poor guy who bled to death from a crushed arm. As much as you admire the gall of the guy who put those photos up, you'll still end up depressed anyway."
While Heather said {last year} that the show has merit, reducing this show to being "too depressing" is a bit oversimplifying. The show is complex and doesn't rely on standard formulas and I think claiming Breaking Bad as too depressing is like bemoaning "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as being too neurotic. The brilliance of the show isn't the "fish out of water" {a high school chemistry teacher as a meth cooker} or "clashing cultures" {middle class meets meth world} tropes, but the complex study of the journey of a man with nothing to lose, but nevertheless ruled by what others think of him, his pride, and his ego. Depressing? I find it a tad odd to characterize the show in that way, but I think this is television more in tune with an audience that appreciates The Sopranos more than the shows mugging to be oh-so-clever like Weeds or the "shock value" of the everyday lives of the polygamists in "Big Love." Talk about depressing...and boring.

Here's a link to several season 3 trailers.

Twitterversion:: Mashup Paul Rothman's It's a Good Night {used in Breaking Bad} w/HarveyBirdman. Blog on AMC's BB prem. s3 tonight on #AMC . @Prof_K

Song:: Pet Shop Boys-'Opportunities'

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