Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breaking and Raking: Shows That I Am Now Watching

I'm not the kind of guy who spends hours and hours in front of the TV during the day despite working out of my house. All of us who do that don't lounge around in our bathrobes goofing off most the day. I at least make enough of a show of working that I can convince myself that I am being productive.

Yes, I've figured out how to bamboozle myself.

But I do record a lot of TV, not to mention subscribing to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I have access to a lot of TV programming.

Typically I have some older series that's on Netflix or Amazon that I watch an episode of as I chow down on lunch each day. 

I really don't like any of these people.
 The current series filling that role is “Breaking Bad.”

This is a series that has a cult-like following among its viewers. I never saw an episode while it was airing original episodes. In fact, I wouldn't have even begun watching it on Netflix if so many people hadn't recommended it with such high praise. I don't get it.

I am now about halfway through season four – it aired for five seasons – and I am only sticking with it because I am in such wonder as how so many people I know could have possibly been addicted to it.

I found season one to be fairly interesting and entertaining, but my enthusiasm has been steadily waning ever since. 

The chemistry teacher and his underachiever former student.
Here's the premise: A high school chemistry teacher discovers he has cancer. The best care, of course, isn't covered by his insurance. He fully expects to kick the bucket. His family is already teetering on the brink of financial ruin. He not only needs to pay out of pocket for his care, but must accumulate some money to leave his family. What to do; what to do....

He finds some wasteoid, drug-abuser former student to go into business with. He cooks the meth, and the kid hawks it. Adventures ensue as they have run-ins with competing drug dealers, the Mexican cartel and so forth. Oh, did I mention that his wife's brother is a DEA agent?

All of this takes place in Albuquerque. 

Jonathan Banks plays Mike the enforcer.
First let me say that I don't usually watch shows with characters I don't like. I don't mean shows with a character I don't like, but shows that I can't find one character I do like. Well into season four, I have only two characters among either the core cast or reoccurring characters I can find anything about which to like.

Bob Odenkirk plays the fast-talking attorney Saul.
I don't think it's a good sign that one of these characters is an ambulance-chasing attorney played by Bob Odenkirk and the other is Mike the drug-syndicate enforcer played by recognizable character actor Jonathan Banks. I'm not kidding. 

The meth cooker/chemistry teacher – Walter White played by Alan Cranston – is a wretched excuse for a human being who when not treating everyone around him as if they are worthless crap, is elevating buffoonery to an art. Not an episode goes by that I don't find myself muttering under my breath, “What an idiot!” Here's a guy who should stay under the radar as much as possible who in one episode manages to get himself pepper sprayed during a routine traffic stop before being hauled to jail; and in another episode blows up a brand-new Dodge Challenger he bought his son the day before rather than return it to the dealership as he promised his wife. He does this in a parking lot near the airport and once again manages to get himself arrested. Then there was the episode where he spent more than half of it chasing a fly around his lab and nearly destroying it in the process. What an idiot....

His wife is a shrew, his disabled son is a pain in the ass, his brother in law – my favorite character in season one – is another pain in the ass, his wife's sister is a thief and on and on and on.

The other thing that bothers me about this show is that at times, it's just plain boring. I usually fast forward through 10 to 15 minutes of each episode. There is at least one commercial-break-to-commercial-break scene that is nothing but two people sitting talking to one another. It goes on and on and on, and doesn't do much to advance the story.

I continue watching this train wreck because 1) it doesn't cost me anything and 2) I keep thinking it must get better. I am losing my confidence in the latter.

I found "Weeds" to be a better "what if" of normal people suddenly thrust into the drug world.
The whole fish-out-of-water, drug-dealer theme was done with better effect by “Weeds.” Likeable characters and more believable behavior on the part of all parties involved.

I like this entire cast.
 Another show I am following is Fox's “Rake.” It is sort of the antithesis of “Breaking Bad” for me.

I like all the characters and there is always something going on. 

Keegan and his former-hooker pal.
Here's the premise: A sorry excuse for a human being is a sex-addicted, gambling-addicted, yet brilliant, lawyer. He owes every bookie, pimp and crook in town. He is constantly helping an exhooker that he has a crush on. His boss and good friend is the husband of an college fling.

The lawyer is Keegan Dean, engagingly played by Greg Kinnear. It's not easy to make such a wreck of a human likeable.

Sadly, I think after only a dozen or so episodes, this series is circling the drain. Currently off Fox's schedule, it has yet to be canceled, but it is in series purgatory. It makes me sad.

If you have the opportunity to catch it, by all means, tune it in.

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