Better Living Through Chemistry

I'm too cheap to get cable. My teeth start to clench at the prospect of seeing yet another set of wire ganglia wending their way through my home. As a result, I've come to depend on the kindness of my public library to fill in any TV culture deficits by borrowing from our collection's wide range of cable shows transferred to DVD.

So far I've sat open-mouthed during  Deadwood , so bbed uncontrollably through five seasons of The Wire, sweated with the outlaw unit on The Shield , and looked askance at every single episode of Rome and The Tudors.  

Recently I heard about another series just released on DVD called Breaking Bad - a term that refers to something going south. Brutal, gory and heartbreaking, it's a darkly complicated tragi-comedy with tremendous performances by Malcolm's dad, Bryan Cranston and his meth lab partner, Jesse Pinkman.

The Breaking Bad series creators definitely watched Weeds and read their James Thurber. Walter Mitty crosses way over the line - this time for real. Cranston's character is an internationally known chemist with a first-rate mind who finds himself teaching high school chemistry with a second job in a car wash. Fate provides a chance to break out and get some serious cash.

Why did I like season one so much?  Because somehow, regardless of all the blood, sweat and distillation paraphernalia, the story becomes highly plausible. But, see for yourself.