×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Breaking Bad’s’ Crowning Night is an Ode to Quality

The AMC series has mostly itself to thank for its pop-culture explosion

Other than “Behind the Candelabra,” anointing “Breaking Bad” as TV’s best drama felt like about the only sure thing on an Emmy night that was largely filled with surprises. Yet the show’s crowning moment is the sort of rare success story that promises to be analyzed more closely than a batch of Heisenberg’s product in the click-driven build-up to the show’s Sept. 29 finale.

Frankly, the fact “Bad,” once one of those little shows that could, would wind up creating such a wide pop-culture footprint is a triumph all its own, as well as a testimonial to the power of word of mouth, which — more than any other single attribute — has contributed to the show’s explosion.

TV Review: 65th Primetime Emmy Awards

Series creator Vince Gilligan might have graciously credited Netflix with his program taking off — in the same way he acted surprised when its name was called at Sunday’s Emmys — but the distribution service was only the conduit, one of the tools that enabled the series to catch fire.

No, the “Breaking Bad” experience can best be conveyed anecdotally through the story of a friend of mine, one who has nothing to do with the entertainment business. A few years ago, I casually mentioned that if he wasn’t watching the show, he should consider giving it a try, and that the strike-shortened first season was a relatively small investment — a mere seven episodes.

SEE ALSO: ‘Breaking Bad’ Knife Fight Was ‘Cathartic’ for Anna Gunn

A few weeks ago, he told me he and his wife were eagerly devouring this final flight, having caught up and watched every hour.

“Breaking Bad” is hardly the only show to develop a loyal core following. But the reason it grew so exponentially has everything to do with the addictive nature of the series — storytelling so provocative and unpredictable as to have sent an inordinate number of those who take a bite into a binge-feeding frenzy.

Success, as they say, has a thousand fathers, but that level of satisfaction — more than the new gadgets and toys at our disposal — ultimately explains why “Breaking Bad” has blossomed into the media darling and ratings powerhouse it’s become.

SEE ALSO: Jeff Daniels Talks Best Actor in a Drama Shocker

Meanwhile, viewers who tuned in for the penultimate episode almost found the show catching its breath (Alert: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD) in the wake of recent events. Yes, the writers continue to put Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) through hell, before a closing tease that finally brought us to the tantalizing shot depicted at the season’s outset — when a very different looking Walter White, with hair, pops open his trunk and surveys the great big honking gun inside.

A month ago, I suggested the ending doesn’t really matter in the way it might for other serialized dramas, because the show has been all about the trip — the transformation of Walt, as Gilligan has stated, from Mr. Chips into Scarface.

SEE ALSO: Emmys Draw Largest Audience in Eight Years

No doubt there will be diverse and passionate opinion about next week’s episode, praise and disappointment. The media tend to build these things up in advance, mostly so we can nitpick and tear them down.

But Gilligan and company have already struck a powerful blow for quality and its commercial viability — advancing the notion, hardly viewed as a given in TV circles, that something so irresistibly good will eventually find an audience, through whatever channels are available.

Make a great show, in other words, and let the chips fall where they may.

More TV

  • Jeremy Sisto, Ebonee Noel, Dick Wolf,

    Dick Wolf Plots Cross-Network Crossover Between CBS, NBC

    Veteran television producer Dick Wolf, best known for creating the “Law & Order” franchise, is eyeing a cross-network crossover between his CBS freshman procedural “FBI” or its in-the-works spinoff “FBI: Most Wanted” and one of his NBC shows, such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” or “Chicago P.D.” The decision whether to go with [...]

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Drops Trailer for 'Veronica Mars' Revival (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu dropped the official trailer for the “Veronica Mars” revival and HBO revealed more cast members for “Lovecraft Country.” FIRST LOOKS Hulu has dropped the official trailer for its revival of “Veronica Mars,” set to premiere on July 26. The series will bring back most of the original cast, including Kristen Bell, Jason [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content