There's more to the world than the season finale of "Breaking Bad," but you'd be excused for thinking otherwise.
(By the way, still on the fence as to how I want to label these random thoughts, so thanks for bearing with me.)
1) The sheer force of reaction online to the finale of "Bad" — almost all of it gasping for praise — only reaffirms the growth of Vince Gilligan's master creation into one of the top shows of the century. In 2009, Variety asked Television Critics Assn. members to pick the Emmys of the '00s. "Breaking Bad" was not nominated then, but I can bet it sure would be now.
2) Common occurrence in offices today: "Did you watch 'Breaking Bad' last night?" "NO NO NO NO NO I HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET SHUT UP!!!"
3) For fans of the show that go back to season one, here's the moment when I first realized how great the show might become: the broken plate. Relive it in the clip above.
4) A year ago, when critically beloved "Lone Star" was canceled after two weeks, there was some crowing in among network execs that it exemplified the irrelevance of the TV reviewer ranks, because their praise couldn't even bring any sampling to the Fox drama. Well, you can reverse that this fall.
The first three broadcast series to get their plugs pulled — "The Playboy Club," "Free Agents" and "How To Be a Gentleman" (with "Charlie's Angels" next in line) — all received middling praise at best, and in many cases downright bile. Perhaps these shows were rejected completely on their concepts, but it certainly didn't help that few from the review crew were telling people to watch them.
5) Sunday, I saw "A Dolphin's Tale" in the theaters with my family in the afternoon, then a screener of "Five," the Lifetime anthology film about breast cancer, with my wife in the evening. They have much more in common than I'd have expected (to be sure, I hadn't expected going into the day that they'd have anything in common), in that they both make what I'd consider an unorthodox but still compelling argument: A person suffering from a devastating setback doesn't own that suffering completely.
No matter how awful your condition is, the films argue, you must make room for others to try to help, even when you're determined to go it alone. Obviously, there is a limit and some boundaries need to be respected, but of all the usual lessons that come in this thematic territory, I thought this was the most interesting.
6) "Five" was moving for the most part, though perhaps not the definitive film about breast cancer that I was expecting. One of its problems comes in the first segment. It's hard to discuss without spoiling, but just in general terms, I think the central conflict of that particular segment mostly turns out to be a false one. But in all five segments, there are shining moments for the actresses (not to mention actor Jeffrey Tambor), and each piece is sincerely moving in its own way.
7) New HBO series "Enlightened" with Laura Dern is worth taking a chance on — there were elements I liked in the pilot and others I didn't — but one thing I have no doubt about is that you need to watch "Bored to Death," which has its season-three premiere tonight. I inhaled all six epsiodes of the coming season on screener this summer — I simply can't get enough of the camaraderie of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis.
As a fan of "Rushmore" and "Shopgirl," among others, this is not my point of view, but more than once I've heard the following in passing: "I normally don't like Jason Schwartzman, but I love him in this."
8) On Saturday, I saw "Jane Eyre" with Mia Wasikowska in the title role, two weeks after seeing her in a key supporting role in Glenn Close starrer "Albert Nobbs." Those of us who watched Wasikowska shine in the first season of "In Treatment" quickly pegged her as a talent, but I'm not sure I would have predicted how fast the film world would grasp it. But after "The Kids Are All Right" and now this year's films, it's clearly happening.
9) I've used HBO Go a few times, but not until now had I watched an episode of anything with the extras turned on. But as I finished Sunday's "Boardwalk Empire" online, I was able to access background information, such as Michael Shannon and Paz De La Huerta talking about the unusual arrangement of their characters this season. And who wouldn't want to see an interview with Paz De La Huerta?
10) Role reversals I would still love to see: Paz De La Huerta goes to "Ready Set Learn," Paz the Penguin comes to "Boardwalk Empire."