Monday 26 August 2013

Breaking Badly

Once upon a time, all American television used to be easy to decode; the goodies wore white, the baddies wore black and in the end truth, justice and the American way prevailed. Lantern-jawed heroes fought armed assailants with their bare fists and came out with barely a scratch as the police arrived to mop up the scene and the token broad fell into the hero’s arms. The credits rolled as rousing music sent them on their way, silhouettes against a setting sun. The End. Buy our peanut butter; you’ll be a better person for it.

Over here in Britain during the cold war we only got to see the best of US television and that was bad enough – by all accounts some of the output during the fifties and sixties was execrable – but, oblivious to the entirely obvious Reds-under-the-beds message we lapped it up and no doubt picked up the morality tales along the way. Why not; it was entirely compatible with our own Christian-lite sensibilities and just like the ‘hidden’ sermons the screen itself was in black and white. Happy days, they say.

Then it all got rather complicated. As audiences grew bored, shades of grey were introduced. As more liberal views took hold, good and bad merged together to confuse and distort and most of all to keep you watching (and buying the product). Suddenly you were rooting for the bad guy; suddenly the pillars of society looked a lot less solid and the outcomes of the struggle a lot less certain. Necessary steps to get us to Breaking Bad, a show where the bad guys are the reason we watch.

A meth-head loser, an ex-cop who kills to order and a Machiavelli in the making have us eating out of their hands as they stumble from disaster to triumph and back to disaster while the body count rises and morality becomes pointless. But you know the worst part? I’m going to tell you the worst part. Are you ready? Because here it is. The worst part… after these messages from our sponsor…

After watching the box set of ‘Season’ Four, I put Season Five – the much vaunted final season on my Amazon Wish List and waited patiently for it to be released. It was, I bought it and waited patiently for a day when I could devour it in one. There was only one disappointment. While previous seasons had been the standard thirteen episodes long this set, entitled The Fifth Season states “contains all 8 episodes on 3 discs”. Still, if it was only eight episodes it was watchable in a day.

Then something curious happened. I started to see trailers for it on the telly – fevered announcements about the final eight episodes about to be shown on both sides of the Atlantic; about what a rip-roaring finale it was going to build up to be; how the ending was shrouded in secrecy. But wait, I had the box set sitting on my coffee table. How odd to be making such a fuss when people everywhere could already see it?

Yesterday was my chosen day and I loaded up disc one. All good, onto disc two. After episode four I decided to check out the DVD extras and found they had recorded commentaries on each show – basically, showing the episode again but with annoying voiceovers from cast and crew. And then I heard it; somebody refereed to episode eleven. I assumed I’d misheard when another interjected with a wee tease about episode thirteen. What was going on? I’ll tell you… after this break.

Coming up… Search Amazon for Breaking Bad, Fifth Season and you’ll find it straight away. When I first ordered it, the blurb also said “contains all 8 episodes on 3 discs”. But now it says, “This product has previously been called Breaking Bad - Season 5 (Part 1). For the next instalment see Breaking Bad - The Final Season.” The bastards! Not only was I NOT in possession of the finale, I was now – half-way through my box – back behind the telly showing again, having to wait months to find out how it ends. Badly, I hope!

Yes you, Walter... I'm talking about you!

So if you are concerned about the government’s plans to bomb Syria, or a lefty think tank suggesting fining young people for not voting, or who is what in Celebrity Big Brother, put aside your insignificant woes and think how bad it is for me. That disc doesn’t come out until the end of bloody November!


  1. You can't be sure whether you have the full product in a box set of Breaking Bad?

    Could it possibly be the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" at work here?

  2. Stay out. Of my territory.

  3. I too was dismayed that it wasn't the full monty, as it were, of Breaking Bad's final season. But then I believe US television splits series so at least they got the first 8 episodes out fast and we didn't have to wait, the way we do for game of Thrones, for the whole season to be offered a year later.

    But, I will wait for Walter and in the meantime ponder just who brings about his end.

    No, don't tell me. It's more fun guessing.