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Editor’s Pick: Breaking Bad

American Movie Classics

A terrifically dark dramedy, the new AMC series Breaking Bad is gory and bold in its content. Viewers who tuned in for all seven episodes of the first season were treated to scenes of bodies being corroded in muriatic acid-filled bathtubs and the explosive properties of fulminated mercury, or “a little tweak of chemistry” as science teacher and main character Walt White put it.

To “break bad” means to defy society’s conventions. The series entices viewers with the morally ambiguous journey of Walt, a high school chemistry teacher who turns to making crystal meth, played by Malcolm in the Middle’s Bryan Cranston.

The pilot episode opened the series, set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by showing a stoic Walt finding out that he was in the late stages of lung cancer. White does not break down. Instead, he breaks bad.

Cranston does wonders for nerdy, socially awkward high school chemistry teachers everywhere. He plays a man who wants to do right by his family and leave enough money for his pregnant wife and son.

Walt, knowing he does not have long to live, makes the most out of his knowledge of chemistry and hooks up with former student Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, to cook up some of the purest crystal meth Albuquerque has ever seen. Walt has the skills and Jesse has the street smarts; together these two team up to make a lot of money selling meth by the pound.

It is easy to feel sympathetic towards Walt, who breaks bad for the love of his family. But the darker side of Cranston’s character seems to show itself a little more after each episode, transforming the once timid Walt into a true bad-ass.

Inventive chemistry tricks and an edgy storyline make Breaking Bad an addictive but thoughtful dark comedy.