So what’s it all about? The premise is set up neatly in episode one: Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a high school chemistry teacher who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is the lazy stoner student in Mr White’s class who has a sideline in cooking crystal meth. Using Walt’s chemical know-how and Jesse’s street connections, the pair hatch a plan to produce and sell high grade crystal where they live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Add to that Walt’s pregnant wife Skyler, her brother-in-law who works in the state Drug Enforcement Administration and you’ve got the beginning of the most gripping TV series I’ve watched in years.
It’s hard to tell you much more without talking about the plot, but I can tell you it’s totally enthralling. The story lines develop really quickly, so there’s great pay-off from episode to episode, but not without some epic cliffhangers. It’s got the kind of scope that made The Wire so appealing – you get the point of view of a range of characters connected to Walt and Jesse, and their families get as much focus as their new found lives of crime. It’s so well acted (I can no longer see Bryan Cranston as ‘Malcolm in the Middle’s Dad’) and it’s really funny but also incredibly tense, and sometimes out-right terrifying too.
What I’m basically saying is if you want a new series and you’re into your US TV dramas you can’t go wrong with Breaking Bad. The series started in 2008 and the fifth season is due to start in 2012, so there’s still plenty to look forward to. The fourth season was rated as 96 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, so I can’t wait for that.