TV Review: Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

Original Run: January 20th, 2008 – September 29th, 2013
Created by: Vince Gilligan
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Dave Porter
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks, Laura Fraser, Jesse Plemons, Steven Michael Quezada, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Krysten Ritter, Mark Margolis, Michael Bowen, Bill Burr, Raymond Cruz, Jere Burns, John de Lancie

High Bridge Entertainment, Gran Via Productions, Sony Pictures Television, AMC, 62 Episodes, 43-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I came to the Breaking Bad party pretty late but after multiple seasons of people raving about it, I ended up binging through it all just before the last season premiered.

I also almost quit the show, as the beginning of the first season drags. But once I got to the end of Season One, everything just sort of clicked and I was hooked. But even then, I thought that it would be good but that it would slowly lose steam, as all shows do and eventually, I wouldn’t care about it.

Breaking Bad did something that almost no other show has been capable of doing, though. It continued to improve and get better as it rolled on.

Just when you thought the show reached its peak, it’d throw a curveball or shock you in a way that television shows before this were never able to do. And most importantly, it either gave you satisfying resolutions to plot threads or it subverted expectations and actually gave you something better and surprising.

Frankly, I hate the “subvert their expectations” bullshit that creatives in Hollywood seem to be clinging onto because 99 percent of the time, it’s just an indicator that they’re out of ideas and their only solution is to take a big shit and go, “Ha! You fans didn’t see that coming! I’m a genius! Adore me!”

No. Breaking Bad subverts expectations and gives the viewer something better. And it didn’t just do this once or twice, it did it quite often and it was consistently really fucking good at it. More than anything, that’s what made this show so great.

Additionally, very extreme things happen on the show but it never jumps the shark or takes you out of reality. Everything feels real and plausible and it does a superb job in staying grounded and not taking a turn for the ridiculous, as many shows have done that started out really strong.

I’d have to say that the best thing about this, though, is the cast. Everyone, top to bottom, is perfection.

Almost every character in the show starts at one end of the spectrum and finds a way to make it to the opposite side. All of this happens slowly and naturally. Characters you like become ones you despise and ones you might not have liked become lovable. There are secondary characters that stay the same throughout but many of them are there to be measuring sticks, to show you how every main character evolves in their own way over five seasons.

I know that there has been a ton of hype about this show for years but it is one of the few that lived up to it and actually, in my opinion, exceeded it. Breaking Bad is as close to a perfect show that you can get for a crime drama with neo-western and neo-noir flavors.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other modern crime dramas but this is the best of the lot.

Film Review: Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles (2001)

Also known as: Crocodile Dundee III, Crocodile Dundee In Hollywood, Crocodile Dundee Returns (working titles)
Release Date: April 12th, 2001 (Australia)
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Written by: Eric Abrams, Matthew Berry
Based on: characters by Paul Hogan
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Jere Burns, Jonathan Banks, Aida Turturro, Paul Rodriguez, Steve Rackman, Gerry Skilton, Mike Tyson (cameo)

Bungalow Productions, Silver Lion Films, Vision View Entertainment, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Now, you pick out what you want on that menu there. Then you yell it out into that box. Then in 2 minutes, you’re scoffing it down, without even getting out of the car.” – Mick Dundee, “So, you can eat like a pig… and nobody can see you. [winks] Clever buggers, these yanks.” – Jacko

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t looking forward to revisiting this film, even though I just revisited the two chapters before it and still found them to be entertaining and a great way to waste a few hours.

This one was bad when it came out and time hasn’t done it any favors. In fact, it’s made it worse.

The main issue with this picture is that it wasn’t even written by Paul Hogan. Some other blokes took over that part of the creative process for some reason.

The second issue is that this waited way too long to come out. There is a thirteen year gap between its most recent predecessor and it hurts this movie a lot, as it feels like it’s written like an early ’90s comedy and not something that was made at the turn of the millennium. Honestly, it kind of shows that the style of film that the first two Crocodile Dundees were, were products of their time that worked well back then but not in 2001.

The story is a mess and it takes the weakest part of the first film, which was just being a series of “fish out of water” segments and embraces them more than any of the other installments. It just doesn’t work and most of the bits and gags fall flat in spite of Paul Hogan still having a hell of a lot of charm. But that charm just can’t save a poorly written, unfunny turd.

In fact, the only comedic bits I found amusing were the ones with his buddy, Jacko. They had good chemistry and they were funny together but these scenes were kind of scant and didn’t do anything to propel the story forward.

The criminal plot in this movie is also pretty dumb. It has to do with a Hollywood producer that shoots movies in Europe and Hollywood, using the travel between the two locations as a way to smuggle valuable paintings out of Europe. It’s damn asinine.

Anyway, you can watch the first two movies and still get a lot of enjoyment out of them. This one, not so much.

Well, except for that bonkers Mike Tyson cameo; I can watch that anytime.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: the other Crocodile Dundee films but they’re both a lot better than this one.

TV Review: Justified (2010-2015)

Also known as: Lawman (working title)
Original Run: March 16th, 2010 – April 14th, 2015
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard
Music by: Steve Porcaro, Gangstagrass (theme)
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Natalie Zea, Walton Goggins, Jere Burns, M.C. Gainey, Brent Sexton, William Ragsdale, Stephen Root, Margo Martindale, Brad William Henke, Neal McDonough, Stephen Tobolowsky, Scott Grimes, Jeff Fahey, Garret Dillahunt, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Danielle Panabaker, Amy Smart, Alicia Witt, Michael Rapaport, Patton Oswalt, Gerald McRaney, Adam Arkin

Sony Pictures Television, Rooney McP Productions, Timberman-Beverly Productions, Nemo Films, Bluebush Productions, FX, 78 Episodes, 37-53 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*Written in 2015.

Justified was one of those shows that everyone told me to watch. I really loved Deadwood and was pissed that it ended when it did, only after three seasons and on a cliffhanger. Timothy Olyphant was fantastic in that show. When Justified came around, it seemed like the modern spiritual successor to the near perfect Deadwood. And many people went on to confirm that to me, before I even saw it.

Then I saw it.

I don’t know what it is about majority opinion and my own opinion but when it comes to television shows, they don’t seem to match up. The thing is, I hate this show. “Awful” isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.

Maybe there is just something about FX that is horrible because every single FX show I have ever watched, except for Always Sunny, has completely underwhelmed me and left me befuddled as to how so many people are in love with FX’s product. The network is perceived by many to be on par with the greats like HBO, Showtime and AMC. Justified is just one of a string of many shows that feels just as safe and generic as the episodic crime drama bullshit found on the big networks: CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.

I also don’t know who the music director is at FX but Justified easily has the worst theme song in television history. It is eye rolling, stomach churning and just a horrendous attempt at trying to force together hip-hop and bluegrass. But FX shows have a history of having really shitty theme songs, except for Always Sunny. The Justified theme, actually makes the terrible Sons of Anarchy theme, sound like a masterpiece.

The worst part, is that I like Olyphant and even more than him, I love Walton Goggins. This show has great talent on the screen but the final product is still crap. Sure, the acting is better than average but the plot, the characters and everything else is so drab and cookie cutter.

I only made it about halfway through the third season before giving up. I rarely give up on a show. But nothing really grabbed me by that point and the consensus from the fans of the show is that the first three seasons are the best and then it falls off after that. Well, it was never really on for me to begin with so I certainly don’t want to invest another twenty-plus hours in it “falling off”.

I wish there were more westerns and even neo-westerns on TV. I just wish more were like Deadwood, Hell On Wheels and Longmire (once it went to Netflix) and less like this basic bag of bullshit.

And ultimately, it’s just made me go back and start re-watching the far superior Deadwood once again.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: Sons of AnarchyBreaking BadFear the Walking Dead and Deadwood.