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: Future Force (1989)

Also known as: C.O.P.S. (Sweden)
Release Date: November 9th, 1989
Directed by: David A. Prior
Written by: David A. Prior
Music by: Mark Mancina, Steve McClintock
Cast: David Carradine, Anna Rapagna, Robert Tessier, William Zipp, D.C. Douglas, Kimberly Casey

Action International Pictures (AIP), Winters Hollywood Entertainment Holdings Corporation, 84 Minutes

Review:

“David Harris? I’m John Tucker, Civilian Operated Police. You have committed a crime and are presumed guilty. You have a right to die. If you choose to relinquish that right, you will be placed under arrest and imprisoned. I haven’t got all night.” – Tucker

This movie is nowhere near as badass as its poster implies.

Also, for a David A. Prior action flick, this one is pretty goddamned dull.

I like Prior films like Deadly Prey and The Final Sanction. Even though they are over the top action films full of cheese, violence and men with more testicles than just a pair apiece, Future Force doesn’t quite bring the same level of badass, insane intensity.

Although there is a pretty sweet and bizarre scene where Carraidne’s cyborg glove starts flying around trying to knockout the baddie.

The film was also kind of a letdown when I saw it as a kid because the police force in this movie is called C.O.P.S., so my little mind in 1989 thought this might be a live action C.O.P.S., you know, that cool cartoon that came on after school in the afternoons. But no, it has no association and rightfully so, as this is one big ass glass of suck.

Hell, I can’t believe that Carradine followed up Bird On A Wire with this, as Bird should’ve brought his career back up into the mainstream. He was a solid f’n villain in that and then six months later, he’s doing this movie?! I can only assume that he got paid in video arcade tokens because that’s not real money and he was high on coke and thought it was actual gold. I hope the studio at least sent pizza to his trailer. Wait… who am I kidding? He probably had a wheelbarrow.

Anyway, this is boring, uneventful, Carradine looks bored and out of shape and it’s one of Prior’s worst films, which if you’ve seen his movies, is a really, really low bar.

There is a RiffTrax version of this you can watch though, if you feel compelled to do so.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequel Future Zone, as well as other action schlock with David Carradine from the mid-’70s through the ’90s.

Comic Review: Coffin Bound

Published: August 7th, 2019 – November 6th, 2019
Written by: Dan Watters
Art by: Dani, Brad Simpson

Image Comics, 142 Pages

Review:

When I first saw that this series was coming out, I added it to my pull list.

The main reason is that I loved the art style. It’s well drawn with a unique style and the colors reminded me of something very giallo-esque.

Also, the story looked like it was a sort of mashup of the gothic horror and neo-western genres.

Now I absolutely loved the art, which was illustrated by Dani and colored by Brad Simpson. But it’s the story that mostly didn’t work for me.

This comic is full of cool ideas and concepts but I found the story hard to follow and a little too outside of the box that it became distracting and hard to focus on some of the details.

Frankly, I was looking for that piece to grasp onto but I just couldn’t find it and from a narrative standpoint, this fell flat and seemed kind of aimless and as if it were struggling to find itself.

And this is coming from a guy that loves really weird shit.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll give the followup miniseries a shot. I’ll probably wait until I hear some feedback from other people I trust.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: most of the modern Image Comics stuff.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Six

Published: 1999-2000
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 377 Pages

Review:

Well, here we are… the end of the road.

And man, what an end this was.

I was half expected the series to end with a whimper because everything I truly love never seems to know how to properly end itself. But Garth Ennis penned a worthy story that channels back to a lot of what he built this series off of and gives us a pretty satisfactory conclusion to not just the series but to all the plot threads involving the key characters.

Having also just finished the television series, I can say that the comic is, by far, the superior version of the story with the better ending for all parties involved.

This moved by at a brisk pace, pushed the envelope as it always does but it gave us a real slice of humanity amongst all the rubble and edgy boi ’90s shit.

I didn’t really know how much I loved these characters until their stories concluded.

It’s really hard to talk more about it other than my actual feelings because to delve into the plot, at this point, would kind of spoil the whole thing.

Frankly, just read this series if you haven’t. It’s one of the best long running series ever created for the comic book medium.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Five

Published: 1998-1999
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 368 Pages

Review:

At first glance, Preacher‘s fifth volume may seem like filler. The reason being is that it diverts from the main storyline for almost its entirety and only comes back around to the primary plot at the very end.

In this chapter, Jesse Custer is basically on his own after somehow surviving death, a confrontation with God and having his heart broken by seeing the love of his life and his best friend sharing some romantic gestures.

Very late in this book we do catch up with Tulip and see her leave Cassidy behind, as months after what she believes to be the loss of her love has left her broken.

The first two-thirds or so of this follow Jesse as he becomes the sheriff of a small town, goes to war with new villain Odin Quincannon, a character I didn’t know was in the comics and thought was created just for the first season of the Preacher television show.

Jesse must free the town from the tyranny of the supremely fucked up Quincannon, as well as his Nazi lawyer that has the hots for him. During this plot thread, Jesse also discovers that his mother is still alive and they are able to reunite and find some peace with the loss they both suffered from each other’s absence.

In the last third of this volume, we catch up with Tulip and see how shitty her life with Cassidy has become. Mostly, we get her origin story told over a few issues, which added so much context to her character and her harsh life.

Honestly, if I knew what the gist of this book was beforehand, I might have been apprehensive, as the main story was rocking along at a great pace. However, this book gave us so much more character development and context that it only makes the series stronger and has thus, built up my enthusiasm for the sixth and final book.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Four

Published: 1998
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 365 Pages

Review:

Man, this series hit its stride from the get go but it hasn’t lost it and it actually comes even harder in this book.

Where the last collection was sort of the start of the second act of the entire series and didn’t have as much of an impact as the two volumes before it, this book really puts things back into a roaring motion with a pretty immediate bang.

The first issue in this collection is actually the origin story of Herr Starr. It lets you understand the villain more intimately, as well as his motivations and his hunger for power.

After that, this gets right back to the main story where the added context of Starr’s backstory really gives this string of issues a lot more depth.

This book is action heavy and a lot happens. This changes the game quite a bit, shuffles the deck and puts our heroes into positions they haven’t found themselves in yet. This is just great storytelling that feels like it is leading to something big. It’s as if Garth Ennis had a vision when he started and he’s fulfilling what that vision was.

Now I’m not sure how carefully planned this series was from its beginning but Ennis has created a rich, lived in world that only seems to get better. Most comic book series that run for a long time lose their momentum and the story gets lost.

Preacher is damn near perfection, which is pretty incredible considering that after this chapter in the saga, you’re more than forty issues into the story.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Three

Published: 1996-1998
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 349 Pages

Review:

The Preacher series reaches its halfway point with this volume and what’s great about it is that it is still rolling strong. This collection is a bit different than the first two, however, as it doesn’t just collect issues of the regular Preacher series but it also includes the Saint of Killers miniseries and the Cassidy starring one-shot. Both of these side stories add more context and some extra backstory to these characters.

Overall, this is still a fantastic chapter in Garth Ennis’ epic tale. It doesn’t flow as nicely as the first two volumes, as the inclusion of the other two stories gives it a somewhat disjointed feel but these stories felt necessary to the larger tale and I can’t really think of a better way to include them.

Once the main story gets going again, it picks up right where it left off. Some things come back into play that needed to be followed up on earlier in the series. For instance, Arseface returns for revenge but his story takes a pretty interesting turn.

While I love the version of Arseface that we’ve gotten with the television show, I like how the source material is so different and even if he’s not a main character, his material here is fun to read, I can see why they changed him for the show and gave him a bigger role in the scheme of things but I probably prefer this version of the character, as his arc works better and he seems more fleshed out, even though the comic used him less.

This is the first half of the middle act. So nothing huge happens but it moves forward at a good pace and drops some new things into the narrative to help build and enrich the plot.

In the end, this is the weakest of the first three collections but it’s still stellar and it just makes me want to keep on reading.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.