El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

When Breaking Bad ended I thought it was the best we would get for years. Even with so many great shows out there, Breaking Bad is without any rivals. It gave us the landmark for perfection. Nobody wanted the legacy of the show touched or messed with as it could potentially take away from it. But then creator Vince Gilligan shortly after the show’s end decided to make a prequel series that starred one of the favorites from Breakin Bad, with Saul Goodman. Everyone was skeptical about Better Call Saul and for all the right reasons. It seemed as if it would be a cash grab as Breaking Bad in the last couple of years took off and this would be a way to further capitalize on the franchise. It turns out that wasn’t the case. For one, Vince Gilligan could have gone on to do anything he wanted when Breaking Bad ended, and yet he stayed because he had more stories to tell in this realized world he created. When Better Call Saul premiered it was overall positive with some hesitation. The same was said about Breaking Bad when it premiered, and the further the show goes along the bigger the stakes and investments we have towards it. Today, Better Call Saul is heading into its fifth season next year and is servicing the characters in ways we didn’t expect. It’s not more Breaking Bad, but it’s close.

'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' film premiere, Arrivals, Regency Village Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 07 Oct 2019

After the success of Better Call Saul, we were willing to go anywhere Vince Gilligan wants to take us and without question… until he confirms a movie post Breaking Bad. For a show that ended so perfectly, it’s sacrilege to us fans for him to touch it. As the movie nears we make exceptions for the movie if it’s bad, thinking we can just scrub it from our minds. However, when thinking about it the one person who would not want to ruin the magnum opus of a franchise is Vince Gilligan. That being said we know he would only do this if he had a great story to tell, and I’m happy he did.

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El Camino starts us off right where we left off in the finale of Breaking Bad. Walter White has just got his revenge against the men who killed Hank. Walt then saves Jessie. Jessie flees the scene as Walt dies. And here we are. The movie is about watching Jessie get himself away from the manhunt out for him. While Walt may no longer be with us he is still with Jessie. Jessie is using what he learned from Walt to access each problem head-on. Jessie is thinking three steps ahead and what we have with Jessie is still this sense of innocence. That’s something we lost with Walt near the end until he redeemed himself to us in the last episode. A lot of the movie is watching Jessie come up against dead ends and trying to escape. Every time it seems he may be stuck we see a flashback that helps give us context on how Jessie can see a way out. By the end, one may think this is it for Breaking Bad, but we’ve had so many returns to this world that I’m not so sure.

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There are many surprises to be found in El Camino and it keeps you nostalgic in a good way. It doesn’t hurt Breaking Bad whatsoever. If you thought you knew what happened to Jessie when he got in the car at the end of Breaking Bad, you would not have guessed this adventure. It made me so happy to see more Breaking Bad in every possible way.

El Camino is a perfect companion piece to the last episode of Breaking Bad and acts as a bittersweet epilogue to the series. Watch it on Netflix now.

Robert Ring

The Doctor Who Plunge

For the longest time, I considered Doctor Who to be the epitome of geekdom. It was this show that carried on for generations. It’s so old my grandfather was tuning in as a young man, and under the same cannon, it continues to this day. My grandfather is the reason I began watching it. After he passed away a couple of months ago, I’ve been thinking about him regularly. He had a quiet and quaint presence all his life, and spiritually he must be the same in the next life because I haven’t felt his presence. The days grow longer when I think about the end of his journey, so I strive to find a way to make these moments bittersweet instead.

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This past week I’ve started watching Doctor Who, and I’m enjoying it. Before I saw only a campiness, similar to an Ed Wood picture, whereas now I see what I believe my grandfather saw, which were the possibilities. The Doctor can travel anywhere in time with his Tardis, and this makes for some incredibly creative journeys. When the Doctor travels to the past, we get a creative albeit Twilight Zone spin on a historical time. However, when the Doctor travels to the future, we’re given thought-provoking instances that humanity may find itself in if given the time. It’s the episodes in the future that I find myself afterward wishing I could get lost in a conversation with my grandfather in. I could have known him for a hundred years and never quite work out how his mind interprets philosophy, time and space. This is the trait I think he shares with the Doctor. If my grandfather had been educated at a university level, he might have become a great engineer or a mad scientist. I’ll never know.

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I do know I’m going to continue watching Doctor Who, and share in something my grandfather adored, only if to feel closer to him for a moment. I’ve almost finished the first season of the 2005 series, and a further fifty odd years worth of content should I feel inclined. I’m sure I’ll make additional Doctor Who posts in the future regarding the series overall.

Robert Ring

AHS: Murder House

Back in 2011, American Horror Story was getting a ton of Emmy buzz. There was no subtitle attached to the original series, and it was simply American Horror Story. The nominations pegged the show as a miniseries, which intrigued me as the series was twelve episodes long, a number that is rather absurd for the format. As the next couple of years progressed the show became a series that entailed a new standalone story each year with new characters, while the cast largely remained. Now that the latest entry (Apocalypse) goes back to the beginning and combines itself with the third series (Coven), I thought I would give it a shot.

The story centers around a family that moves into an old house that has a history of people dying, by murder and suicide. The family has a few secrets of their own when they come to the house as they are looking at the purchase of this house and city as a new start. Before long we understand that the house is inhabited by ghosts that freely walk the halls, and can choose to be corporeal at their choosing. The ghosts become key players after each of their backgrounds are played out over the course of the season and influence the family’s arc. The arc is fairly original as far as haunted house stories go, yet I did find myself predicting the outcome of most story twists.

After the first few episodes, I believed the show was a mess. The biggest problem for me that continued throughout the show was the close-ups. About seventy percent of the show was shot in close-ups and I was pained by it. In the show’s defense, I believe it was to not give too much of the house away. If the entire show is mainly set in a house it would feel very stale after twelve hours. Another messy point for me was a lot of the weird things they have the ghost do in the early episodes that make no sense until further on in the series. My problem here was I was not enthralled to find out what each of these things meant, whereas David Lynch can do something of his own ilk and I am deeply fascinated to see where it goes. Overall, I’m not sure what the message of the series was, if there was one at all.

From what I can tell it seems as if the target demographic is mostly women, and after seeing the first season I presume it comes to a lot of the soap-opera acting throughout. The main cast does a fine job at portraying their characters, but the flashback scenes involving actors for a bit role are atrocious, and to me, cheap. The scary scenes in this are pretty tame, but that might be to television sensors. I will probably continue watching the further entries in American Horror Story and ultimately hope that the problems I have with Murder House are not extending to the rest.

I love The Twilight Zone, and I think American Horror Story is like an extended episode of that. I would caution people to be wary of jumping into this show because it was a battle for me, in the beginning, to become invested in the story.

Robert Ring

Insatiable

You should be watching this show!

Netflix dropped Insatiable last week, a show that came off a trailer that had people blasting it for dealing with fat shaming. Yes, the initial trailer for the show even made me roll my eyes at what I assumed was going to be the final product too. So when I saw it available to watch on Netflix, I begrudgingly wanted to see just how bad it was. As soon as the short premise was over where the title character had lost the weight, which was I want to say in the first fifteen minutes, I was in, and I enjoyed what I was seeing. By the time I finished the last episode I was a huge fan.

Insatiable begins with Patty Bladell, a girl who took to eating and became very obese, getting into an altercation with a homeless man that breaks her jaw, that therefore stops her from eating and becoming skinny. Patty finds the lawyer, Bob Armstrong to help her on the case against the homeless man. Armstrong is also involved in beauty pageants and sees Patty as his new protege. Patty set on wanting to get even with all the hate she had when she was fat intends to become a beauty queen to show up everyone who called her names. It’s an over-the-top premise, and it’s meant to be because it’s partly a black comedy. It’s essentially the film Election (1999) with beauty pageants, and a slice of My Name is Earl. The revenge plot of the show is the central inconsistency within it, which can be righted in the second season. The show is filled with great characters, and they all come together nicely amidst absurd confrontations. The show is just as much about Bob Armstrong as it is Patty Bladell and I think he steals the show; his character is excellent.

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Critics hate on Netflix’s latest tv show Insatiable. I skimmed enough reviews to see that the majority of them just don’t get it. Instead, they are sticking to the fat shaming labels that ridiculed the show from the trailer. I thought that the show would keep going to flashbacks of her character being portrayed as fat, but it didn’t. The first portion of the first episode is the only hint of what outlets are saying. Patty’s character is not someone who thinks she becomes all that when she gets skinny, instead she still feels uncomfortable in her skin, like many young women do regardless of their image. It’s moments like this that show the real heart of the show amongst all of the craziness. There are also some relationships that form in the second half of the series that are hilarious and ballsey. The show deals with sexuality in a way I appreciate as I’ve never seen it done before as well.

I don’t want to give much away because I think the show has a lot of substance that is not being recognized by entertainment outlets. The show has an 11% rating on Rotton Tomatoes, and I think it should be in the 75-80% range. Not only that, there is a change.org petition for Netflix to cancel the show with 230,000 online signatures. Seriously? I’ll be recommending this show for the remainder of the year. It’s the best new show I’ve seen this year after Cobra Kai, and I want to see a second season happen. So give the first episode a watch and see if it tickles you.

Robert Ring

Riverdale

Riverdale is a surprisingly good show. It’s a mixture of Dawson’s Creek, Glee, Gossip Girl, The Outsiders, and a slew of others. Weirdly, the combination of things Riverdale emulates works for the most part. The series begins with a Twin Peaks vibe as the body of a Riverdale High student is found washed up, setting the first season up as a whodunit. This premise may seem far from the original Archie comics, yet the characters are all here, and apart from Reggie they all for the most part embody the spirit of their comic book counterparts. Jughead is by far the standout of the bunch, but in Riverdale his humour is traded in for sarcasm as he investigates the dark side of their small town. Archie is still jumping from Veronica to Betty in one of the longest ever running love triangles. Riverdale shows the town from the point of view of the parents and they have even more secrets than their children.

About halfway into the first season they really start to Glee up the show with what might be a number every second episode. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either. They use Josie and the Pussycats to play cover songs that fit the mood of the episode. Some of the song choices blow me away, like Out Tonight from Rent, and Milkshake by Kelis.

Riverdale does have a few problems, although these problems are the same as every other show on The CW, most notably all stars are beautiful people and teens are over sexualised.  If you do enjoy everything else The CW has produced you will find yourself at home here and going strong halfway through it’s second season. Riverdale has proven successful enough that another Achieverse character, Sabrina is getting her own show this year.

Riverdale is the best teen drama currently airing. Check it out!

Robert Ring

Breaking Bad

Besides a couple of twists and turns a roller coaster is generally pretty linear. You strap yourself in and wait for the mechanics to motion you forward for a ride that may last only for a sum of seconds, but will stay imprinted in your memory till you are old and grey. As the wheels press forward your hands clam tight against the safety harness.. oh yes shit is getting serious now. Panic and excitement fill around your rapidly beating heart, creating the greatest rush of adrenaline. The screams are contagious, and the excitement is shared in unison throughout the coaster with each stranger having shared a special journey together.

It’s a very special show this one, and like a roller coaster ride it’s an exciting journey to be had for those who are willing to have a go and see what all the fuss is about.

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Breaking Bad is a character portrait of it’s protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Like the title suggest Walt starts to crack, he breaks. This series illuminates the progression of Walt from light to darkness. Walt starts off in the beginning as a down on his luck family man who’s working two jobs just to support his family. An important factor to Walt is his intelligence. He was apart of a Nobel Prize winning team in chemistry years before, but his “smart choices”, the lack of seeing a future in the company he created with his colleagues showed him lose out on what became a multi-million dollar company. So a man with a level of intelligence meant for more is stuck working as a high school chemistry teacher, and part-time at a car wash. On his fiftieth birthday Walt is told he has lung cancer, which shifts all his worries towards his family’s wellbeing after he’s gone. With Hank (Dean Norris), a DEA agent brother-in-law, Walt gets the idea of producing crystal meth using his chemistry background. The idea is to stop as soon as he reaches an appropriate estimation of financial support for his wife in the years to come. As life cannot always be planed to such a degree, especially when you are playing with fire Walt is thrown into chaos time and time again. Along with Walt is his young protege Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), who has a talent for cooking Walt’s special “blue crystal meth,” the purest on the market, a factor that saves their lives because of the demand and difficulty to create such a pure mix. Bryan Cranston is definitely television’s finest actor, which should make it difficult to find a worthy on screen opponent to challenge the rise of Walt, but n this case we also get one of the greatest villains ever seen on television, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). These characters as well as those not mentioned could be talked about to no end, especially Walter White himself.

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Breaking Bad also has an art film quality to it at times, certain scenes are “slow” in a sense that you will watch a family dinner in all it’s awkwardness, which is an example of something that many people who are used to the normal flow of a television show struggle to watch. While it has it’s slow paces the drama is always at a high. That roller coaster adrenaline is in every episode of Breaking Bad and is always stirring inside as you watch, rising and rising with every episode. The most surprising thing throughout this show is the lack of sex and sex appeal, this is almost unheard of in everything, instead we see a very gritty world. Now the first season is the slowest moving and hardest for most new viewers to get into, however you should not fear this because the first season is the shortest, with only seven episodes which really takes off before the season’s end. If you can get through the first season nothing will stop you from jumping into this roller coaster and be taken on a journey with some of the most heart clutching and adrenaline fuelled moments ever seen on television. Now this is not the type of show you can just start half-way through either, every episode pays off in their chronological order, like all good cable shows. I’ve always known this show to be the best drama on television ever, and it subsequently topped my already great expectations frequently.

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Breaking Bad in my opinion is the best drama ever made on television!

The one thing that could have tainted a show as unique as this is the pay-off at the end, and by God they did it. The end was a beautiful send off to everything the show was heading to. On another note look at the first image in this post and the third image, can you see the juxtaposition of Walter White? The evolution of the man? In the first image he is standing in the center of a vast and empty desert with nothing to his name. In the second image he is sitting down, he is relaxed and in power with money and meth in great sums. These two images may seem spoiler like in a way, but they’re ones you would inevitably stumble upon anyway considering they represent the first and fifth season DVD covers. I do think it is the best way to sum up the show’s evolution, a glance at what you may be getting into. Does this alone not prove that Breaking Bad is the most bad ass show? See it for yourself.

Following this show for the duration of its run has been the greatest roller coaster ride I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding, with twists you will never guess breaking what could have been a very linear narrative, and I do understand that it will be a very long time before another show will ever have the same impact this show had on me.

Vince Gilligan I thank you, Bryan Cranston I thank you, and to the entire cast I thank you.. I thank you and I look forward to watching the spin-off prequel Better Call Saul.

Robert Ring