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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Actor Bryan Cranston (right) in "Breaking Bad," which returns July 15.

"Breaking Bad" is a journey into darkness


Sometimes we like to watch a train wreck. All too often our TV viewing habits come down to finding shows with characters we like. We invite them into our living rooms and make them our own.

Usually, those characters are nice, lovable people and despite their flaws they shine by the end of the episode. Think Andy Taylor, Hawkeye Pierce, Mary Richards, Homer Simpson, The Beaver and the Fonz – audiences put themselves in front of the tube each week to see what they would do next.

"Breaking Bad" isn't one of those shows, and lead character Walter White isn't one of those people.

Don't get me wrong, the program is the best that's on the air right now, and its fifth season kicks off July 15 on AMC. The show is written well, the actors' performances are excellent and this is the pinnacle of storytelling. But you and I are not meant to like Walter.

"What I've learned from this role is that even the meekest, most unassuming person, it's possible to have that person change into a desperate, horrific human being," actor Bryan Cranston told Zap2It while attending events with the Tony Awards on Sunday.

The former chemistry teacher turned drug lord isn't meant to be our best buddy, but many who watch the show can identify with a person who thought they were making decisions to help his family ... justified his actions and then his world slipped away from him.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power," Abraham Lincoln once said. On "Breaking Bad" this man got power, thinks he handled adversity well, but has ultimately failed the test to his character.

"Now they've invested in me at the beginning of the series, and we're evolving, changing, forcing the audience to follow us," Cranston said in the interview. "And yet, they're hating what I'm doing and what I've become. And I still get people – even people like critics – saying, 'How are we supposed to like you?' and I say, 'Why are you supposed to like me?'"

Well if you like Walter or not, you can watch the new episodes starting next month.

SWITCHING TO GOOD THINGS: Milwaukee icon John McGivern will be hosting the 2012 Golden Idol event today at Serb Hall. Nearly 100 seniors will be competing for the title, performing from 2 to 4 p.m. Time Warner Cable is airing a number of videos from the finalists and will air coverage of this event Friday on Ch. 411.

SPEAKING OF AMC: "Mad Men" finished its run with a little cliffhanger in its final episode that aired over the weekend. The fifth and final season pulled in more than 2.7 million viewers, more than the show has ever had. Reruns will continue on the channel, and the series should get even more buzz as it has become an annual favorite at the Emmys.

NUDE PHOTOS OF SNOOKI LEAKED: I, like the majority of America, really don't care. However, since it is media we are talking about ... somehow sensational headlines of reality stars has become major news. Now granted, it's not hard news like politics, death and taxes, but what I call entertainment coverage has slowly blurred the lines and enters into our collective consciousness. You tell me, should we mentally block out all things related to reality TV stars?

Talkbacks

SteveKabelowsky | June 12, 2012 at 5:22 p.m. (report)

Daus, good call, you are right. That should have read "fifth and latest" ...

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Daus | June 12, 2012 at 4:24 p.m. (report)

This is not the final season for Mad Men. They are contracted for two more.

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SteveKabelowsky | June 12, 2012 at 2:03 p.m. (report)

Good question sandstorm. That list I wrote last week wasn't necessarily the best shows on the air, just what I thought was the top ones worth checking out ... I mean really? "The Choice"? It was more of a cross selection among many genres. Breaking Bad is so good, I figured the die hards already knew. Just a head's up, there will always be holes in any Top 10 lists I put together ... I like it that way, able to personalize the conversation here.

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sandstorm | June 12, 2012 at 1:46 p.m. (report)

i agree. it's absolutely the best show on TV right now. so how did this not make the top ten shows of the summer in your article last friday?

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