Tag Archives: Breaking Bad

There’s going to be a “Breaking Bad” movie, and I’m cautiously optimistic. The winner of the Grand Prix of Magic kind of blew my mind. And businesses are starting to hire “seat fillers” like at the Oscars, a truly idiotic idea

Lost to me in all the political news last week was a pretty huge development concerning one of my two favorite television shows of all time.

After years of denials and saying he wasn’t interested, the creator of “Breaking Bad”, Vince Gilligan, is reportedly making a movie based on the amazing television show.

Tentatively called “Greenbrier,” it’s set to star Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, one of the two major leads on “BB”,  picking up after the final episode when he (SPOILER ALERT) escapes and starts his new life.

I have mixed feelings on this, as I’m sure many “BB” fans are. First of all, as I wrote about when I watched it a few years ago, “Breaking Bad” is one of the greatest pieces of pop culture I’ve ever consumed. Incredibly well-acted by Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, and every other actor in it, it was also an absolutely gorgeous show to look at, filmed beautifully and plotted just perfectly.

It was as close to perfection, I think, as a TV show could ever get, and I was devastated when we came to the final episode and realized there’d be no more.

So on the one hand, just like my other all-time favorite show “The Wire,” I see no reason to do anything else here with “Breaking Bad.” It was perfect, the ending was perfect, and part of me is afraid picking up Jesse’s story after it ended, instead of leaving his future to our imagination, can only lead to disappointment. Why mess with a great thing?

But the bigger part of me is excited for “Greenbrier” and here’s why: Vince Gilligan has gone back to the “BB” well once before, and it’s been fantastic. I was highly dubious when they started “Better Call Saul” with Bob Odenkirk in a prequel reprising his fantastic Saul Goodman character.

But damn was I wrong. “Better Call Saul” is fantastic; really a worthy addition to the “Breaking Bad” universe, with the typical Vince Gilligan great acting, directing and plot.

So given that he’s involved, and Aaron Paul is involved, maybe “Greenbrier” will be fantastic. Maybe we’ll get to see the lives of some of the other characters we left off when the show ended, like Skyler and Marie and Jesse’s old pals Badger and Skinny Pete (who totally should’ve gotten a spinoff of their own; I’d pay good money to hear their stoner conversations each week) and maybe even some more of Tuco’s relatives are still around somewhere in Mexico.

No idea when “Greenbrier” will be out. But I am certain I’ll be seeing it. Vince Gilligan has earned my eternal loyalty for making something as epic as “Breaking Bad.” I’m sure he’ll do a great job, (in Jesse Pinkman voice) bitch!

**Next up, once in a while I stumble across a magic trick video and get blown away, and that’s what happened with this clip of Eric Chien, who won the recent Grand Prix of Magic with this routine.

Just… wow.

**Finally today, I always love it when a really stupid idea gets a “trend story” written about it, and before I go on let me assure you this not a story from The Onion, this is real.

So apparently some companies have noticed a problem: When they bring investors or other potential high-level employees to their offices for a look around, there are sometimes a lot of empty desks and cubicles. This is because either lots of people are working from home, are at lunch or in meetings, or more likely, the company is struggling and just don’t have many employees left.

So what to do, to make your office look like a busy hub with workers busily making deals and generating profit? Pretend to have lots of employees. By hiring seat-fillers. Like they do at awards shows.

Seriously. Companies have been hiring freelance “workers” to sit at desks and cubicles and fake like they’re doing work when they know outsiders are coming in to take a look around.

This is ALL kinds of ridiculous. First of all, what if one of your guests happens to strike up a conversation about the business with an imposter, then what? Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, if you have too much office space and no employees to fill it, maybe you should MOVE TO A SMALLER OFFICE!

Seat-fillers in business. If only Kramer was still around to do what he did on that great “Seinfeld” episode where he “won” a Tony Award.

What a ridiculous idea.

 

The Jets stink less than the Niners, the amazing Lions roll on, and more NFL thoughts. Walter White invades “SNL” and it’s glorious. And why on a personal level I’m thrilled Army finally beat Navy in football again

giants-cowboys

OK, I admit it, even with my beloved New York Jets having a miserable season, I’m starting to get sucked back into the NFL.

It’s December, we’ve got crazy-weather games going on now, like in Green Bay, New Jersey and in Miami on Sunday, the division races are heating up, and best of all, we’ve got new teams who haven’t been heard from in a while looking playoff-bound.

I’m looking at you, Tampa Bay Bucs, and you, Detroit Lions (9-4! A 2-game lead in the division!) and you, Miami Dolphins (who I still loathe from my childhood but man, they have been bad for a loooong time.)

Some thoughts from Sunday’s games, when the stretch run really began…

— Hell of a win from the Giants Sunday night. Cowboys had won 11 straight, but the Giants forced star rookie Dak Prescott into some bad interceptions, got a late TD from Odell Beckham Jr., and grabbed the victory. Always twice as bad for me when the Jets are having a miserable season and the Giants are actually good.

— But hey, the Jets won on Sunday, an absolutely meaningless victory and something that hurt their upcoming NFL Draft position. I swear, we were driving home from Long Island around 4:30 and I turn on the Jets-Niners game figuring it’s maybe 3-0, or 7-0, and hear that it’s 14-0 San Fran five minutes into the game. I immediately called my Dad to find out what the hell had happened.

“They’re the worst!” he declared. But alas, they rallied behind Bryce Petty, who probably isn’t going to be a great QB but found a way in the 4th quarter and OT to lead the Jets over a miserable Niners team. The Bryce Petty era, get excited!

— Anybody out there had the Lions having a 2-game division lead with three to play? Didn’t think so.

— Being a Redskins fan must be all kinds of fun. Kirk Cousins gives you heart attacks every week, then does just enough to help you win.

— Finally, not NFL-related but the great CBS announcer Verne Lundquist called his last college football game on Saturday, and he offered this beautiful send-off at the end of the broadcast. He’s a class act and a guy who never took himself too seriously. Thank goodness he’s still going to be doing March Madness; his pipes are so perfect for that event.

**Next up today, taking a break from the Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump theme for a week, “Saturday Night Live” brought out a heavy hitter to talk about the insanity of Trump’s Cabinet picks so far.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new Drug Enforcement Agency czar, a high school science teacher from New Mexico, Mr. Walter White.

“Breaking Bad” fans, Heisenberg is back!

armyfootball

**So Saturday was the annual Army-Navy football game, something I have recently begun to care about, which I’ll explain in a minute. The Naval Academy had won 14 consecutive games in the rivalry, which is crazy considering usually the teams are even and trade wins every year or two.

It really is an amazing scene, the Army-Navy game; I’ve never been to one but for years watching it on TV it looked awesome.
The reason I have cared more the past few years about the game is because the U.S. Military Academy has been phenomenally involved with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, the charity I’ve talked about a lot on here that my wife and I support big-time and that I do volunteer writing for.

A few years ago the Army football team adopted a young cancer patient named Sean Callahan, and in the spring of 2015 let him play in their spring game. The video below, which I think I ran here once before, always makes me smile (especially Sean’s TD dance at the :50 mark).

Talking to several of the players for a story I wrote on Sean, the love for him in their voices and the appreciation they showed for having the opportunity to serve our country, really moved me.

Army finally beat Navy on Saturday, 21-17, breaking that long losing streak. Sean Callahan died on August 22, 2015. I’d like to think that somewhere in their celebrations on Saturday, a few of the players thought about Sean with a heavy heart.

Go Army.

The Emmys are here! I make fearless predictions. And a 9-month pregnancy video in 6 seconds

breaking-bad-season-6-walt-jesse

So it’s a great and happy Monday for two reasons: The U.S. Open starts today (yay!, always my favorite event of the year, and I’ve got tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday, provided my wife doesn’t go into labor on either of those days), an d at night, for those of us who love TV, it’s the Super Bowl of TV: The Emmys, seemingly forever held on Sunday nights but for some reason this year being held on a Monday.

The major categories seem even more impossible to predict than usual this year, partly because there was so much fantastic TV in the past 12 months, and also because there’ve been lots of new winners in recent years who are nominated again.

Herewith, my totally amateur handicapping of the Emmys, with who will win and who I hope will win:

Best Drama Series:
WHO WILL WIN
: “Breaking Bad”
WHO I WANT TO WIN: “Breaking Bad.”
A brutally tough category. As someone who just finished the entire run of “Breaking Bad” (probably going to be a blog post on this epic series sometime this week), and considering how much amazing press the show got from critics and fans when it ended, I can’t see how anyone beats it. “Mad Men” was terrific this year, and I know lots of people loved “True Detective,” but it’s Heisenberg’s world and we’re just meth customers looking for the blue stuff.

Best Comedy Series:
WHO WILL WIN
: “Orange is the New Black”
WHO I WANT TO WIN: “Silicon Valley.”
This really wasn’t that great a year for “Modern Family,” and “Big Bang Theory” is on a major decline, so I expect the hot Netflix show to win (I didn’t love OITNB as much as I thought I would). “Silicon Valley” has zero chance, but I loved it.

 

Best Actor in A Drama:
WHO WILL WIN
: Bryan Cranston
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Bryan Cranston
Incredible performances by all the nominees; Kevin Spacey will get some love, as will Jon Hamm, but there is no way on freaking Earth that Cranston doesn’t win this. Walter White was one of the best TV characters of all time. I know everyone is giving this to Matthew McConaughey, and I’m sure he is fantastic on “True Detective.” But it’s got to be Cranston.

Best Actress in A Drama:
WHO WILL WIN
: Kerry Washington
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Lizzy Caplan
If Claire Danes from “Homeland” wins again I may hurl objects at my TV. Caplan is sensational in “Masters of Sex,” but I don’t think enough people watched it for her to win.

Best Actor in a Comedy:
WHO WILL WIN: Jim Parsons
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Louis C.K.
Parsons is practically an Emmy institution by this point, though his Sheldon character is long past his expiration date.

Best Actress in a Comedy:
WHO WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
I could see Lena Dunham or Amy Poehler winning here, too.

As for the other categories, Aaron Paul will definitely win for supporting actor in a drama, while Anna Gunn or Christine Baranski should win supporting actress.
Comedy supporting nods will probably go to Ty Burrell (though Tony Hale is awesome on “Veep”) and the incredibly awesome Allison Janney for “Mom.”

**Finally today, I rarely post Vines on here because most of them are pretty entertaining but not usually worth sharing.
This one, though, I love love love, and not just because I’m living with a person who has just gone through nine months of being pregnant.
It was posted on Vine by a man named Ian Padgham and a woman named Claire Vasquier, and it’s just fantastic. Enjoy.

The five best TV dramas of all time (according to me)

Thewire.stringeravon

You may remember a few weeks ago when I put together a list of what I thought were the five best TV sitcoms of all time.

A few of you were mad I omitted “Taxi,” and “Mad About You,” and M-A-S-H,” and on the first two I see your argument, but I just never got the appeal of Alan Alda and crew working to save lives during the Korean War. I mean, I get why people loved it, but it just never did it for me.

Now, since dramas deserve equal time, I present my five favorite one-hour shows of all time.

5. L.A. Law: The greatest show of my childhood, and one I used to beg to be allowed to stay up late for. Sleazy but lovable Arnie Becker. Straight-laced legal wizard Michael Kuzak. Tough-as-nails prosecutor Grace Van Owen. Crotchety old Douglas Brackman. Tax attorney Stuart Markowitz and his bride, Ann Kelsey.
These were the brilliant legal minds of Mackenzie Brackman, and they brought the funny, the serious and the heart-tugging emotions every week. Thursday nights at 10, I felt like I was getting a glimpse into “grown-up world” television. “L.A. Law” never patronized its viewers, always brought interesting cases, and was the forerunner of so many of today’s legal dramas.
It’s entirely possible that my friends Marc, Andrew and I were the only 12-year-olds in America debating Arnie’s sex life and Abby looking for her kidnapped son, but man did we love that show.

I miss it still.

4. Friday Night Lights: One of three shows on my list that I didn’t discover until very late in its original run, or after it was over, the tribulations, joys and heartache of the Dillon Panthers, and everyone around the West Texas football team, was simply sensational. I’ve never seen a show beloved by such a cross-section of people as this one; Kyle MacLachlan as Eric Taylor, and Connie Britton as Tammy (aka Mrs. Coach) led an incredible cast, the writing was sensational, and it pulled on your emotions like few others.

The scene that hooked me for good was early in the first season, in the third episode, when Taylor had his team run up and down a hill in the rain while screaming at them.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
If you’ve never seen it, the whole run of the series is on Netflix. So good.

3. Breaking Bad: I’m cheating a little here because my wife and I aren’t finished with all five seasons of this glorious show (right now we’re three episodes away from the end of season 4), but it’s been so incredible, living up to all the hype so many people in my life have promised, that it’s already No. 3 on my list, and quite possibly moving up.
A high school chemistry teacher stricken with cancer, his troubled but good-hearted (mostly) protege, and an indelible cast of drug dealers, lawyers and family members have made this probably the best piece of television made in the past decade.
Just as everyone told me, Season 1 was really good, Season 2 was better, Season 3 was even better, and Season 4 blows them all away (yep, it’s incredible).
There isn’t a single flaw in this show, and it’s so beautifully constructed that most of the time when the episodes end my wife and I are both open-mouthed, jaws dropping, uttering “Wow.”

2. The West Wing: I’ve always told myself that this and my No. 1 choice were dead even in every way, but if I absolutely had to choose, the Jed Bartlet administration comes in second. Loved this show from the minute I first started watching, at the start of season 2, and its first four seasons were so incredible I could (and have) watched them on reruns dozens of times.

The casting was perfect, especially Leo McGarry (John Spencer), Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), and Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet. Aaron Sorkin’s writing was cracklingly brilliant, the storylines were fascinating, and the humor and drama blended beautifully.
The last two seasons weren’t quite as magical, but as a whole “The West Wing” was still better than any other network drama ever.

1. The Wire: Nothing I can say here except that “The Wire” is the greatest piece of pop culture entertainment I’ve ever experienced. I’ve proselytized about this show to so many of my friends and family that many have watched it just to shut me up, I think.

David Simon, over five seasons on HBO, created a masterpiece, weaving the lives of drug dealers and police officers in inner-city Baltimore into a coherent narrative that stands up to anything else that’s ever been on TV.
“The Wire” treated you as an adult, forced you to pay attention, and rewarded you for watching all the way through.
I bow down to you, David Simon, and me and millions of others are grateful that you created such a fantastic show.