You’ll forgive me if I post a little more praise for Breaking Bad, AMC’s excellent series about the vagaries of the meth business in greater Albuquerque. We just watched the final episode of Season Four: Superb. TV doesn’t get better than this. Movies don’t either. This episode and this season are so good that the pessimist in me worries whether Vince Gilligan and crew have left themselves nowhere to go but down.
No matter. The show will be back at some point for a final 16 episodes and we can all judge then. For now, Breaking Bad should be required viewing for all writers and producers of serial drama. This is how it’s done, folks: Each season has its own arc, but each also fits within the the larger arc that is the series itself. This is an epic tale with a beginning and an end. These writers know where they’re going. They’re not going to give us guest appearances by Justin Timberlake playing himself. They’re not going to give us extended dream sequences. And I have complete confidence that this show won’t conclude like The Sopranos, where David Chase basically went out for a smoke and never came back.
We often complain about the long gap between seasons in these cable shows, but if it results in writing like this — hey, take all the time you need. Last night, hours after watching Breaking Bad, I went through another episode of Twin Peaks. The contrast was startling. Twin Peaks had such a promising start, and then quickly devolved into a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas and goofy affectations. It was a case of the writers trying to amuse each other, rather than tell a story. Twin Peaks attracted a cult following not because it was good, but because there was nothing else quite like it. In 1991, I guess it was either that or Matlock. It’s hard to imagine anybody bothering with it today.
I’m tempted to go all spoiler with this and discuss details of last night’s episode. But that would be wrong. Just check out the show if you haven’t already, or post your thoughts below. I will close by saying that as much as I like Mad Men and The Wire, this show beats them both.