Forget about ObamaCare and federal budgets! What people are really excited about this weekend is the Breaking Bad marathon on AMC TV! The countdown to the Breaking Bad finale episode on Sunday began Wednesday with the Season 1 premier. By early Saturday morning, we are now caught up through Season 4 as AMC takes a break and airs its usual ′Cowboy Saturday′ fare. The gritty series by producer Vince Gilligan stars Bryan Cranston as Walter White, an unemployed chemistry teacher who becomes the best ′meth cooker′ in the land. The methamphetamine he produces is 99% pure! With his side kick, Jesse, played by Aaron Paul, Walter is trying to earn as much money as possible before he dies of cancer. The clock is ticking as rival gangs, police and his own employers all seek to control and or eliminate him. What fun!
Now I have to admit, I am not much of a fan of the series. Over the years, I′ve watched a few episodes, so being able to catch up on the whole thing during the marathon has been enjoyable. My favorite individual scene has to be the Saul Goodman commercial where he promises big pay outs if you are injured by falling debris or dead bodies from mid-air aircraft explosions! Wonderful! Too funny!
Many pundits and other ′experts′ like to claim that we are in the ′Golden Age of Television′, but I disagree. Prior to series like OZ or The Sopranos, most TV series were short stories. Sure, you had the same characters week to week, more or less, but each episode was essentially a ′stand alone′ piece. The X-Files began the trend of a multi-season story arc, but even then, many episodes were more like ′Monster of the Week′ and had little to do with the grand conspiracy and the Cancer Man. The transition to the new era of television really started with the HBO series OZ and gained wide popularity with The Sopranos. Though, one can argue, that the new genre has its origins in the old mini-series that became all the rage in the 1980s, such as ″The Thornbirds″ or my favorite, ″Amerika″. But, those were single season, at best, story arcs.
What is really happening to television is that it has fully replaced the movie theater experience. We see many former ′film′ producers, like Jerry Bruckheimer, move from doing ′big screen′ work to producing ′small screen′ projects, allowing for greater character development and more intricate story lines. Of course, the real issue here is whether or not this will stand the test of time? For example, will people still be watching reruns of Breaking Bad 40 or 50 years from now? This, I believe, is the problem with calling our current fare the Golden Age of TV.
Where are the Soprano conventions or spin-off series? Star Trek has produced four spin-off series, one being very popular, along with over a dozen ′big screen′ movies. There are not only millions of fans over the decades, but many have been so inspired that they have made it their life′s mission to make Star Trek a reality by inventing flip-phones and other wonders of technology. Consider how most of the big box office draws these days are mainly based on Marvel comic books from the ′Silver Age′ of that genre. The Superman and Batman films are rooted in the Golden Age of comic books. So there are built-in audiences ready to accept new variations of such stories and characters.
I am glad that AMC TV is airing its Breaking Bad marathon as the countdown to the Breaking Bad finale comes to a head this Sunday night. Its a good series and I applaud Vince Gilligan and stars like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Television is changing thanks to newer technology. Who do we thank for that? Gene Roddenberry and William Shatner? Maybe so! I will leave this with a question…, how will the story end? Share with us your thoughts, opinions, and even some Breaking Bad spoilers if you have any good ones.