Tuesday, February 12, 2008
TV EYE:Middle-Age Crazed
Malcolm in the Middle was one of those done-well-enough shows that drew me to it with some consistency. Over the course of its run I’d wind up shaking my head countless times at the Mr. Brady-goes-spastic take on the American sit-com Dad turned in by Bryan Cranston. His go-for-broke antics made him the most committed television farceur in quite some time, while seemingly miles away from his memorable turn as unctuous dentist Tim Whatley on Seinfeld. Cranston vaults into another category altogether in AMC newest original effort, Breaking Bad (AMC, Sundays, 9:00PM), as a middle class schlep/high school chemistry teacher who, when given a lung cancer death sentence, decides to kick out the jams and become a meth chemist/salesman. Cranston does a riveting middle-aged-crazy, teaming up with a none-too-bright ex student (Aaron Paul) for some highly surreal Abbott and Costello riffing. Although the show sounds as if it’s venturing dangerously close to Showtime’s Weeds, the distinctions are obvious-Weeds being a comedy of suburbia and upper class entanglements while Breaking Bad is truly a drama that veers into satire all the while wringing out a thought provoking moral conundrum.