Pat Clark

September 26, 2013

Clark: Happily breaking free from ‘Breaking Bad’

I am so glad “Breaking Bad” will be over Sunday.

I am so glad “Breaking Bad” will be over Sunday.

Not “kind of” glad or “somewhat glad,” either. Downright giddy almost to not have to suffer through this phenomenally good and gripping show anymore.

That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s also one of the many amazing things about the rightfully acclaimed “Breaking Bad.” It’s a show you truly love while truly hating to experience. It’s a pretty sick viewer/TV relationship when you get right down to it.

I can’t recall ever feeling exactly like this about any other television show. Sure, I’ve been glad to see formerly great shows sign off after having overstayed their welcomes. I’ve also been oddly dismayed to see acclaimed favorites leave even though they’d slipped into merely OK-ville.

But this pure happiness to not have to watch a show that I look forward to not wanting to watch every week? Well, that’s a new and convoluted one. And a real relief.

“Breaking Bad” has been a conundrum from the get-go: I’ve long had to struggle to watch the show, despite it being among the best television dramas pretty much ever. Indeed, I skipped a few episodes out of sheer grim-exhaustion. Still, I always returned because the show simply is that good. Not exactly what you’d call entertaining, but definitely gripping.

But after last Sunday’s penultimate episode, I wish they’d wrapped it up then, rather than force us to sit through one more gloriously painful hour.

Last week’s show was filled with one scene of horrifying misery after another. It was a trudge to get through – every single wonderful and artfully made minute after another.

From Walt’s isolation in a New Hampshire cabin to the return of his cancer to the painful phone call with his son, it was difficult to see what’s happened to this guy, even though he clearly deserved every bit of it and more for his grave past sins.

Indeed, although Walt’s done very bad things to erase the sympathy viewers might feel for him, there’s a certain humanity that’s managed to rise up from time to time. And when he was so utterly destroyed to watch Hank’s execution, you felt like he wasn’t completely lost.

Right up until seconds later when he ratted out Jesse to the worst band of ruthless criminals on the television planet. That was bad stuff right there.

And that whole Jesse thing, that was the worst to watch this past Sunday. Held captive by depraved Todd and his vicious uncle and crew, Jesse’s being forced to cook up Walt’s special brand of meth while being chained like a dog on a leash. He’s living shackled in an underground bunker. For months, it would appear.

And when he seemingly was about to escape, when the tension was ratcheted so high you thought you might pass out, you still knew in the back of your mind what was going to happen.

Because “Breaking Bad” doesn’t allow for any happy endings.

Which brings us to this Sunday’s finale. It’s going to be hard to watch. Miserable even.

I can’t wait. Can’t wait to see how it ends, can’t wait for it to finally be over.

‘Bad’ side note

One character on “Breaking Bad” who has been a tiny comedic light on the dark escapades is Saul Goodman, the very ethically challenged lawyer who has managed to get Walt and Jesse out of all sorts of bad situations over the seasons.

But it was odd to read that AMC will be making a “Breaking Bad” spinoff based on this character, titled “Better Call Saul.” It reportedly will be a prequel about the character’s dealings before meeting Walter White. After all, Saul was off to a new life in Sunday’s “Breaking Bad” episode, forced to go underground and assume a different identity thanks to Walter’s fall.

Not sure the character is interesting enough to attract audiences. Doubt I’ll tune in.

All in, already

The fall TV season barely has started and I already am hooked on two new shows, one comedy and one drama.

As expected, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a sitcom winner, thanks clearly to “Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg. He’s adorable and hysterical as a top detective with a prankster streak. And Andre Braugher is deadpan delightful as his new boss.

What wasn’t expected is my fast affinity for “Sleepy Hollow,” a serialistic half-period piece, half-police procedural and total otherwordly drama. I didn’t intend to watch this show, but my son was on board from the get-go.

When your 15-year-old wants you to sit with him for an hour that doesn’t involve driving him somewhere or buying him something, you do it, doggone it.

So I started watching as Ichabod Crane rose from the dead 250 years later into the present to do battle again with the headless horseman and his band of witches and demons. It’s actually a bit too creepy, but it’s been intriguing enough to keep me interested.

Still, my son and I both fully expect it to be canceled after six or seven episodes, based solely on the fact that we like it.

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