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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spoiler alert: I cannot abide spoilers
(Page 2 of 3)
I really am not giving anything away (because the promotion reveals this), but it’s about (spoiler alert if you want to remain a virgin) an affable high school chemistry teacher who becomes a methamphetamine cook to provide for his family.

I’m hooked. I know it’s just a TV series, but the writing is brilliant and droll. Every character is complex and capable of the unexpected. The same could be said of “The Newsroom” or “West Wing,” Aaron Sorkin’s work, but those unfold in traditional settings, a network TV studio and the White House. Vince Gilligan created “Breaking Bad,” and he gives us a completely original experience, unfolding in and around New Mexico.

The show is set on the border with Mexico, and that might well be the theme, of crossing boundaries and going rogue in unfamiliar territory. Given certain stressors and anxiety, what borders might any of us cross?

If your favorite film was “The Sound of Music,” don’t even think about “Breaking Bad.” It’s a kind of thinking person’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Never, ever let your kids near the show.

You must have a high tolerance for violence to watch “Breaking Bad,” but most of it is served up in a campy style, with dialogue that sends home rich irony and sarcasm along with the bullet or knife — or hatchet, in some cases. Think Hannibal Lecter and his fava beans.

What the show does best is probe moral and ethical dilemmas. Can a good man do bad things if it’s to help his family? Should he? Think Jean Valjean. Does being a good dad cancel out murdering bad people and chopping them up? I think I know the answer to that one.

As the series plays out, we witness the characters’ turmoil over conflicting loyalties, loves and passions. You have to be able to see gray to appreciate the series on any level. And prepare to have your own moral compass go haywire. Also, you may have to close your eyes during one or two scenes.

There are several really evil, intensely crazy bad guys, but most of the characters live somewhere in between good and bad, sane and insane, criminal and law-abiding.

Along with the high-minded stuff, there are plenty of cheap thrills. But what the show does best is entertain.
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