Breaking Bad has felt like a trawl at times. Quite a good trawl. Certainly not comparable to a trawl through like a pile of corpses looking for your only child. No, more like a trawl through something that is quite good, but it is not as good as you were led to believe it should be.
The last few days has been like a realisation: a realisation that goes, oh it is that good and the bit that I am getting so much out of now is maybe even better because of the trawl that has taken place. Or maybe not. I’m not so sure the show’s biggest fans see much of the first three seasons as a long OK trawl. And neither do I. I said it felt like one in places. Keep up.
But there are two episodes towards the end of the fourth season/series that are….well, they’re really quite bloody good really. And if what I have left to watch (half of season/series five) is as good as the last half of season/series four then I can believe the hype (despite the warning from Public Enemy).
No-one has said art is a competition – that’s a lie, frankly, someone has definitely said it and they have art competitions and prizes all the time. I’ll rephrase it: making great television isn’t about competition but comparison is natural so let’s not ignore it. Breaking Bad isn’t on the same level as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Game of Thrones or Goodnight Sweetheart (sorry Emma Byrne – I rarely recycle a joke – ha! – but that one deserved to live outside an email).
Clearly other people feel differently and place it in the pantheon of those shows. I put it on that next tier, just behind the ones that I thought were/are consistently brilliant. Like Band of Brothers, ER, 24, The Walking Dead and The West Wing. Much like the other group I listed this is not a complete list of my second tier. And the second tier is a combo of things just not quite as good and things that were amazing in places but went on too long and let the strong stuff down a bit (I’m looking at 24, ER and The West Wing).
There is another tier of things that are waiting on the sidelines to be watched: The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Weeds, Dexter. As well as the ones I refuse to judge after one/two seasons/series: Boardwalk Empire (I know there is but I’ve not watched the third one yet), Deadwood (I know there is but I stopped watching after the first season/series even though I really fucking loved it) and Homeland.
Just in case you are wondering: Band of Brothers is OK to rank after just one series/season as that was the lot. I can’t rank other stuff based on the first series alone or that can go horribly wrong. Like Heroes. Man that show went shitter than shit.
Despite having several programmes yet to watch which are meant to be brilliant I gave Numb3rs a pop on Netflix. The pilot episode is about the po-po not being able to catch a serial killer because they can’t figure out how many sides a square has. But the manager of the police has a brother (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s mate from 10 Things I Hate About You) who can calculate how many sides a square has on a series of large blackboards* and so they catch the serial killer.
I will probably watch lots more of Numb3rs while knowing it is quite shit and knowing that I have brilliant shows on my shelves unwatched. Figure out that equation.
*I know why people do math on big boards when they are teaching, like in Good Will Hunting, but why do they do math on big white/black boards when they are just doing it for themselves? I’d just use a pad.