Breaking Bad (Season 2): picks up immediately where Season 1 finished, as the two rookie criminals slowly harden and come to terms with murky business that they are now a part of. With almost double the episodes, and the character groundwork laid in S1, there’s much more scope for the story strands to finally go somewhere. You get the feeling that the show is finally changing up the gears in the drama department. The biggest change is that we now see a lot the effects that the duo’s meth is having, in particular the social slant is much rougher than S1, with a proper – no-holds barred – look at the users, their families, and the more ruthless cartels. Both leads remain fantastic while their limits and attitudes constantly evolve, and it’s weird that no matter how horrific or low the things they do are, you’re still behind them all the way. Saul; a fascinating, funny, crooked lawyer, is a solid addition, and good comic relief in parts. Stylistically, it’s still very much unique, retaining it’s punky visual edge and stylistic colouring – which can, and does, liven up the slower sections of storytelling. So the stakes are higher, the operation’s bigger, the rivals are tougher, police more involved, personal lives more strained – what’s not to like about Season 2!? One of the few shows on the telly that manages to strike a great balance between entertainment, drama and comedy.
Braking Bad: a struggling middle-aged high-school chemistry teacher with two jobs finds out he has terminal cancer, however his get rich quick scheme is one-of-a-kind; cooking the purest crystal meth Albuquerque has ever seen. First off, the two central characters, Walter White and Jessie Pinkman, are played absolutely superbly by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Walter a regular guy in a unique situation that forces him to use and abuses science to kill guys, blow up cars, dispose of bodies, burn a lock, and cook ‘glass grade’ crystal meth – his transformation through the series is interesting to watch as he manages to strike the impossible balance between sympathy through his cancer, and villanous through the cooking. Jessie is equally good as the streetwise, try-hard, and they’re dysfunctional relationship is entertaining and funny – it must have been a joy for the writers. To single out another character, the step-brother Hank is played brilliantly, with some great, subtle, comedy timing. The series does lose its way in the middle, with nothing really happening for a few episodes – far more ‘cancer drama’ than ‘drug/crime thriller’. It also ends very abruptly, bang in the middle of a volatile story arc; which leaves you gagging for Season 2. The show has a unique and distinctive visual style; it looks very 90s, with lots of vibrant colours popping out of the screen, and a grainy/distorted ‘tape’ effect. Breaking Bad: Season 1 takes a massive gamble by putting almost everything into the characters and their back-story, hoping that audiences connect enough to interest them in a second outing – it pays off, although if the dark/morbid/macabre humour and bleak story won’t be to everyone’s taste.