Every couple of TV seasons, a show comes along that has us hooked from the first scene. What follows is pure “must see TV” bliss and we tune in each week to see how the creative personal will top themselves. If the TV gods smile down upon us, those creative folks will be able to tell the story they way they want to. In others words, they get to wrap up their characters lives. We’ll be left with a hole in our programming schedule but with the ability to relive those great moments all over again, especially if we own the series on DVD. Thus it is that we must say good-bye to two groundbreaking breaking TV series this season: Dexter and Breaking Bad. Both featured extremely flawed characters as their central (anti) heroes. Both featured exceptional writing and acting. Both had this intrepid correspondent screaming like a schoolgirl on more than one occasion. Thanks, Walter and Dexter. Television will never be the same without you.
Bon Voyage Breaking Bad
Remember the pilot? Here was the doughy dad from Malcolm in the Middle running around in the desert in his tightie whities. What happened in that RV? Why is he wearing a gas mask? Where are his pants? As we would come to learn, Walter White was a high school science teacher diagnosed with lung cancer. To pay for his medical bills, Walter decides to cook some meth with former student and current junkie Jesse Pinkman. It was only supposed to be enough meth to cover the bills and maybe set up a college fund for the kids. We all know how that turned out.
For series creator Vince Gilligan a seminal moment came in episode five of the first season. This is when Walter was offered money from a former colleague to pay for all of his bills. It was a way out and Walter turned it down flat.
“Prior to that Walter White was basically a good but mislead guy with bad decision-making skills. He was going to make money, and then what was going to happen to keep him cooking meth? The money was going to get stolen, so he’d have to cook more meth… we came to realize truly what we had in that fifth episode,” Gilligan told Empire Magazine. “That’s when he broke bad, in a way. When the show kicked in to high gear, or started to, anyway.”
It’s a show about a serial killer. Okay, how do you make a serial killer a hero? Well, Dexter had “the code” taught to him by his cop dad Harry. Since Dexter was going to kill anyway, why not have him kill the people that slipped through the cracks of the legal system? It helped that Dexter worked from Miami Metro as a blood splatter expert. Again, it was an amazing pilot wherein Dexter killed a child abuser in a ritualistic manner that would become his signature. The number one rule of the code was not to get caught. To that end, Dexter was trying to have a normal life with single mom Rita and her two kids. Poor Rita. She would end up giving birth to Dexter’s son only to die at the hands of the Trinity Killer. Yet, that wasn’t even the most shocking moment to come in Dexter’s blood filled run. As with Walter White, the need to avoid getting caught leaves a trail of bodies and shattered lives in its wake. Compelling drama from the first frames.
The Best of the Best
Can you pick your favorite moments from these two series? Was it when Walter killed Gus with the bomb? Was it when Debra discovered Dexter was a killer? Was it the decapitated head on a tortoise? Let’s just say it all worked. Thanks to my iPoll survey rewards, I’ll be cashing out to pick up the complete series for Dexter and Breaking Bad just as soon as they wrap up. These are the kind of shows you can watch over and over. In other words, exceptional TV.