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February 19, 2008

Cable Boxing (LEO's Weekly Television Rehash): ‘Breaking Bad’ one toke over the line?

Breaking BadEpisode 4: “Cancer Man” AMC, Sundays, 10 p.m., aired Feb. 17. Starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, R.J. Mitte, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt.Synopsis: The DEA suspects there’s a new drug kingpin operating in Albuquerque. Walt and Skyler reveal Walt’s diagnosis to the rest of the family. Jesse makes a surprise visit to his straight-laced family.BY MAT HERRON & SARA HAVENSSara: I didn’t know AMC had original programming, so this was a first for me. Honestly, the premise sounds enticing — a middle-aged, mundane, high-school chemistry teacher finds out he’s got a terminal disease and decides to go into the meth business to raise some quick cash for his family. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed with the characters or storylines to bring me back for another viewing.Mat: In the immortal words of Job (“Arrested Development”), “Oh, come on!” This has everything you could want in a drug-fueled drama: meth, mortality and, most of all, momentum. I don’t feel like I’m watching an extended version of the “This is Your Brain on Drugs” commercial. No one character is completely innocent or flawed. It’s nice to see AMC explore the grey areas of drug use and why people do it.Sara: I like the fact that Walt’s (Cranston) brother-in-law Hank (Norris) is also the town’s DEA agent. It has that incestuous factor that makes “Dexter” so appealing.Wait a minute, isn’t “Dexter” on at the same time as this show now? Sure it’s hacked and edited for CBS, but I’d almost rather spend my hour with a serial killer and his foul-mouthed sister than an insincere Walt and his one-dimensional, cookie-cutter wife Skyler (Anna Gunn). Mat: Of course Walt’s not sincere. When was the last time you met a trustworthy drug dealer? Walk a mile in the man’s moccasins: If you were facing $90,000 in cancer treatments and couldn’t find an oncologist in your HMO network, what would you do, hold a bakesale? Build a lemonade stand?Sara: I’d probably take off to Ireland. Die with a smile on my face. But really, I like the fact that he’s making illegal drugs to support his family. It’s such a good premise; for some reason, the show just doesn’t work for me. Like pot brownies. The set is sparse and dismal. Colors are muted and dull. We get that he’s sleepwalking through life — he’s almost tapped into that pathetic character that William H. Macy does so well. Almost. Mat: We can agree that the destruction of Ken’s yuppie-mobile — and, by association, his massive, Bluetooth-inflated ego — brought the funny. Nothing’s better than watching a loudmouth get what he deserves. And Jesse (Aaron Paul) covering for his kid brother when the maid discovers his secret joint was cool, albeit depressing.Sara: Yes, anyone with “Ken Wins” on the license plate deserves to lose the car he puts it on. Walt took care of that in fine form. And I, too, like the “chemistry” between Jesse and his younger bro. Skunk weed aside, Jesse did good tossing out the joint. Drop us a line at leo@leoweekly.com or check out our TV blog at cableboxing.blogspot.com