Breaking The Duck


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I watch a lot of movies. Indeed, few escape my attention, and I have viewed literally thousands over the years. Of all my pastimes, this is the one that has been most consistent during my lifetime and looks in no danger of slowing down in the foreseeable. However, for as prolific as I am with regards to film, my television series track record is downright appalling. To give you an idea, the last I dedicated my time to was Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under back in 2007. That is eight years ago now and, needless to say, there have been some rather glorious shows doing the rounds during the interim. So what is it that has been responsible for such shameful snubbery? Well it certainly ain’t a lack of quality. You see, long gone are the days of rickety sets and sub-par effects. Over the past decade, they have very much seized being an issue.


Nowadays, it is considered a shrewd move for actors to make the transition into television, and some fairly monumental talents have settled into long-running roles and made themselves a second time. The likes of Jessica Lange, James Woods, James Spader, Anna Paquin, Alec Baldwin, and Keifer Sutherland, to name but the barest of few, have located their carpet slippers and production has had a refurbishment too. Martin Scorsese’s Boardwalk Empire clocks in at $5m an episode, while World War II miniseries Band of Brothers had the collective might of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks behind it and cost $125 million to produce, with another $15 million thrown in to market this behemoth. That’s big fucking money right there being shelled out; Brewster’s Millions are looking like chump coinage right now. Television is on the insurgence and I’m the last bozo in Soho to have cottoned on to its candy. Actually, that’s not strictly true, I’ve been more than aware of this transmogrification, but my priorities have been all out of whack.


There simply hasn’t been time, at least in my mind. When not scribing, I might slip a movie in just to release some dopamine. This ordinarily translates to around two man hours and, should said film fire up these pistons, then I may well have myself an appraisal to shape. Nice and easy does it, just a quick hit to the dome, then back to business. Where is the sixty plus hours to undertake such all-encompassment? Something has had to give and television took the hit I’m afraid. Of course, I’ve robbed myself of true eminence by turning my blind eye, but it’s never too late to make amends. Here, I’ll even reveal the recipe. Take two parts realization, one humility, then season with enlightenment. Et Voila. You have yourself amends. Never really been much of a cook, so I needed myself some inspiration and fast. This is where last weekend came in, as I first met Walter White. I’ll say no more at this point as the yellow brick road of awakening beckoned and turned out to be rather a picturesque stroll.


I was in the company of my oldest friend and an expert in mental ping-pong, and his most significant other. Having commenced our pilgrimage with Kevin Allen’s marvellous Twin Town, moved in for a double dash of Christopher Guest with a Best In Show and A Mighty Wind duplex that was jubilant to the power of two, and reached our next crossroads, he suggested we select our next signpost. Television seemed like the way to go and my ruby-red slippers were about to earn themselves a twinkling. After all this time, the options were nothing if not plentiful. Actually, I’d never seen a smorgasbord so utterly veritable. There was Brie, Camembert, Manchego, Smoked Gouda, and a fair smattering of Stilton on the platter but none of this interested me, if I’m honest. You see, I don’t trust cheese with blue veins running through it, and neither do I care for the varnishing of brick-dust that accompanies it. Where was the extra mature cheddar? I knew where the true cheese was and just had to navigate the mouse trap before me to facilitate my cheek stuffing.


Said slither of fermented dairy was but a few feet to the six o’clock of me, okay perhaps six-thirty. It looked real fresh, like an oblong slice of toothsome moon rock, with my very name scrawled across it. Turns out that I need to head off to the opticians on my penny farthing for an optical service as it stated nothing of the sort. There were two words watermarking this dairy delight and I simply had to shuffle my rodent-bearing hips a little closer for all-important inspection. Should I get too close, then the reprimand would be both swift and conclusive. If the message were to read Melrose Place then I would likely come over all light-headed and pirouette into this tantalizing orthopedic mattress. Some pilgrimages just ain’t worth undertaking. You’ve seen The Dark Crystal right? Now imagine the Mystics on a perpetual treadmill. Then you have yourself the prospect of Melrose Place. These two words meant everything and a fair smidgen more as there were hours to kill and would likely be backed up with episodic enlightenment.

Dave Porter Breaking Bad


Breaking Bad. That’s what it said. Breaking Bad. As loud as it was clear and as bold as Yoda’s nan on the nasal sherbet. I could have excreted a lung had I not felt like a smoke at that very moment to celebrate our victor. What a delightful proposition this was. You see, while I may have spent the past eight years or so beneath a rock, even I knew all about Breaking Bad. Unless I was mistaken, this was as close to the balls as television got. What better way to end my lean spell? Of course, the last time I undertook such a challenge was The Walking Dead and, after enjoying the shit out of the first two episodes, it fell by the wayside and hasn’t been watched since. This wasn’t through any dearth in quality, simply other things cropping up of a higher priority. This time I was determined not to drop the soap bar. If I was to do this then my primary enlightenment would need to be thorough. Thus, we viewed the entire season pretty much back-to-back. Seven hours later I emerged from the rubble sporting a grin as wide as it was gormless. The duck was well and truly broken.


Words actually fail me right now. How does one sum up an experience like this? Rousing applause perhaps? Busting out the lute? Dancing a jig? Fellating a trumpet? Tell you what, I shall do all four. Breaking Bad deserves such and more besides. The mouse trap may well have acquired its target but I wouldn’t have known as I was too busy stuffing my cheeks with vintage cheese to give a rat’s snout. The term breaking bad pretty much translates to raising hell and this is precisely what Gilligan did. Like any good pilot, it hit the dust at full stretch, then proceeded to pick up pace consistently as it gradually unfurled before me. By the time I reached the close of the first episode, developments had made it nigh-on impossible not to loop this shit over. Then again as episode two drew to a close. It kept this up for three in a row before revealing another side of its game just as monumental. The pawns are plentiful and, while Walter is unerringly our main focus, others also play a key part. As we draw towards the halfway beacon in season one, our investment is tenfold. No character is one-dimensional, no solitary thread feels superfluous.


It seems almost pointless providing synopsis on something that I’m fairly assured is common knowledge but here goes. Walter is a high school chemistry teacher who has just been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Desperate to secure his family’s financial future before he croaks, he begins producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine with one of his former students Jesse and Breaking Bad chronicles the pair’s misadventures. The reason I’m ever bothering to point out the obvious is that Gilligan’s series is very much like Walter’s affliction. I received my diagnosis before the first episode was even sewn up and, since then, it has continued to spread. Others soon become implicated by his moonlighting pursuits and the audience do too as we are forced into caring about every last one of them. Even his pregnant wife Skyler, who spends most of her time busting his balls, is provided with sufficient light and shade. But it is ultimately all about Walter and Bryan Cranston’s performance is simply staggering.


The entire first season had me by my short and curlies and, having now begun on season two, I’m pleased to report that I’m now utterly dependent on Breaking Bad. Needless to say, I shall appraise this beast as it draws to its eventual close, and that shouldn’t take long at my current rate of knots. However, right now it just feels good to be taking the journey. Eight years are a long time to spend in the television wilderness and I couldn’t have chosen a more fitting subject to mark my return to form. Moreover, I need this shit right now. Given that I’m in the process of undergoing a significant lifestyle change myself, I need something all-encompassing to assist me while I’m making this transition. Thanks to Walter, I now have my drug of choice, and his cookery skills are utterly unparalleled. Have you ever heard of the term “better living through chemistry”? That shit is downright applicable here Grueheads. I have no idea where our story will lead us next, no doubt, somewhere decidedly ominous. But the duck has been broken and I can’t think of a solitary person better to raise hell with than Walter White.



Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,

Keeper of the Crimson Quill

Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2016

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