I suppose that this is some other network’s answer to Weeds. A high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, is diagnosed with lung cancer. He needs to earn money for his family so that he won’t leave them destitute, and by chance, he encounters a former pupil, Jesse Pinkman, who’s involved in the drug trade. Because Walter is a genius at chemistry, he makes the best drugs ever, but find himself in a rather murky underworld populated by deranged Mexicans and addle-brained junkies.
Breaking Bad lacks the depth of Weeds. Most of the series centres on Walter and Jesse in a kind of surrogate father-son relationship. There’s Walter’s pregnant wife who at least has the baby by the end of the series, but her purpose merely seems be to play the part of the old TV cliché – the shrill, suspicious and inflexible American housewife. There’s Walter’s son, who has cerebral palsy, and could be getting up to all manner of adolescent mischief, but that lasted for a single episode. There’s Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank, who works for the DEA, but just when he seemed to be on the verge of guessing the identity of Heisenberg (Walter’s alias), nothing seems to have come of that potential storyline. There’s his self-centred kleptomaniac sister-in-law, but that was another storyline that lasted a couple of episodes and died.
A lot of the series was full of the mundane such as Walter repairing his house. On occasion, Breaking Bad was like an episode of McGyver or The A-Team when Walter would use his knowledge of chemistry to solve some problem such as his RV suffering from a flat battery when he and Jesse were way out in the desert making drugs. A lot of the episodes were recursive instances of Murphy’s Law. Often Walter seemed to change from one episode to another as if the writers didn’t know what to do with him.
The start of a lot of episodes focused on a pink, scorched teddy bear fished out of Walter’s swimming pool, and gradually other information was revealed such as a couple of bodies, and damage to the windscreen of Walter’s car. It seemed that Walter might end up blowing the house up by accident or some other tragedy had happened. In truth, Jesse’s dead girlfriend’s father worked (insert long pause here for unnecessary dramatic effect) as an air traffic controller, but a lapse in judgement led to a mid-air collision and the pink teddy bear fell into Walter’s swimming pool from one of the planes. Although the writers were trying to be clever, hinting at some other end for Walter, they might have spent their time more productively trying to get some mileage out of the other characters in the series instead of all these one-off stories.
[22.08.13. Breaking Bad finally finished this year and was the object of much critical acclaim, which I find baffling. Perhaps it was like Star Trek: TNG where the first three series were utterly dreadful before it actually improved.]
An appendix on unrelated matters.
I did actually go for an adventure today, following the Grand Canal in a roughly southerly direction. It has to have been the dullest of my outings so far since the canal has nothing scenic to recommend it. There seems to be some scheme to make it look a little more attractive by planting trees and building a low retaining wall alongside it, but overall, it’s not an interesting stretch of water.
I see from the BBC and a mail message that my Mum sent me that the current grey, windy weather here is almost certainly the consequence of a typhoon that’s been pounding Fujian and Zhejiang. I’d forgotten about such things while I was in Chengdu.
Last night, there was a rainbow on 青石路. Tonight, the sky there was a light mauve colour which I thought was the tint on the windows and doors of the restaurant I was at, but it has no tint.
Charlotte Bronte fans should rejoice because they now have somewhere to stay when they come to Wuxi – the Jane Eyre Regency Hotel, which is just near the intersection where 青石路 meets 春申路. I can’t begin to fathom why it might have this name. Regency Hotel makes sense, but I wonder what Jane Eyre means to the Chinese. A romantic destination? Or is some mad woman going to burn it down while her husband regrets not marrying the plain girl instead?