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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Breaking Bad: The Official Book: A Review

Breaking Bad is indisputably one of the titans of the second golden age of television - the first being Dragnet through The Twilight Zone in the 1950s-(early)1960s, the third being the masterpieces of streaming such as House of Cards on Netflix right now.  The second age, already fading just a bit, begins with The Sopranos and The Wire, and continues with American Crime (a brilliant exception to the fading).  It was born on cable, continues there to some degree, and inspired occasional greatness in network television.

Breaking Bad sits at the apex of this second golden age, not better per se than The Sopranos or The Wire, but even less connected to the crime stories of the past.   David Thomson, who edited this book, and wrote much of it, aptly says in the introductory chapter that "no American film of the twenty-first century has matched the achievement of Breaking Bad".  How could it - how could a narrative of let's say two-three hours possibly match a narrative of 52 hours, more or less, told over 5 seasons?

Breaking Bad: The Official Book presents every aspect of this tour-de-force you could possibly want, including in-depth interviews with creator Vince Gilligan and the people who called all the visual and acoustic shots.  There's a section on the show's predecessors and inspirations, ranging from The French Connection to Scarface.  The titles of each episode are compellingly deconstructed.  Each of the characters, major and minor, is analyzed to the max, all the way up and down, in life, and, usually, death. You'll find a whole section just on the chemistry of Breaking Bad - the literal science, ranging from ricin to lilies of the valley, which often literally ignited the narrative. This made me realize that another predecessor of Breaking Bad would be MacGiver - in addition to its other superlatives, Breaking Bad is also a masterpiece of science on television, educational against all odds, a Mr. Wizard set to riveting narrative.

The visual imagery is itself the story of Breaking Bad, and it's powerfully represented in this book with photography, including of the cars in Breaking Bad, that rivals what we or at least some people used to expect in Life Magazine.  Music was also an important part of the story, and my one regret about this book would be that I couldn't press an image on a page and get some music playing out it - but, hey, that's what the interactive Breaking Bad: Alchemy is for, and one of the joys of Breaking Bad: The Official Book is that this bad puppy doesn't need batteries to enjoy, and has more than a hundred new images to boot.

I have no doubt that the series will be watched and talked about for hundreds of years to come, and Breaking Bad: The Official Book will be a welcome and indispensable companion.

See also Breaking Bad Final Episodes #1: Walt vs. Hank ... Breaking Bad Final Episodes #2: Skylar and Jesse ... Breaking Bad Final Episodes #3: The Ultimate Lie ... Breaking Bad Final Episodes #4: Old Yeller ... Breaking Bad Final Episode #5: Coordinates ... Breaking Bad Final Episode #6: The Knife and the Phone ...  Breaking Bad Penultimate: $10,000 for 2 Hours ... Breaking Bad Finale: "I Did It for Me"

Talking about Walter White and Breaking Bad

And see also Breaking Bad Season 5 Premiere: Riveting Entropy ... Breaking Bad 5.3: Deal with the Devil ... Breaking Bad 5.7: Exit Mike ... Breaking Bad Final Half-Season Finale

And see also My Prediction about Breaking Bad ... Breaking Bad Season 4 Debuts ... Breaking Bad 4.2: Gun and Question ... Breaking Bad 4.11: Tightening Vice ... Breaking Bad 4.12: King vs. King ... Breaking Bad Season 4 Finale: Deceptive Flowers

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