What's the hardest part about being done with "Breaking Bad?" It could be that now my wife and I will have to find something else to watch. To extend that just a touch further, it means that my wife and I will have to find something else to talk about. Since I've known her for more than thirty years and we have yet to have very few pauses of more than a few minutes, this isn't my biggest concern. I do worry about that finding something worth watching on TV, however. Maybe Newton N. Minow was right: "when television is bad, nothing is worse." I watch a lot of television, but I don't. With all the choices that I have streaming into my house twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I don't avail myself of all the opportunities I have. Our two Tivos work diligently to find those programs that they believe will best suit my family's viewing needs. And what do I do? I delete them.
All those high standards that I put on the moments when I actually sit down in front of the video delivery systems come into play. The truth is, I probably spend about as much time watching things I have already seen as I do shows and movies that are brand new. This might explain my initial reticence toward the story of the high school chemistry teacher who became a drug kingpin. I made up my mind early on that if there was that big a fuss about something, I would probably get another chance at it. A TV series that spawned its own Wiki showed some staying power. What I hadn't counted on was that there actually was a beginning, middle and an end.
On numerous occasions, I have pontificated on my belief that television shows should be limited to three seasons: One to get in, one to flesh things out, and another to tie things up. Don't hang around until things get stale or you have to replace Chrissy with some other blonde. Most series rely on keeping their characters stuck in prescribed patterns that allow endless repetition of the same tropes. If you let Wile E. Coyote catch the Road Runner, it's all over. If Mister Coyote gets discouraged to the point of giving up his carnivorous endeavors, watching him eat bugs won't make for much of a show.
And that's why Vince Gilligan and the folks who created this show deserve my respect and gratitude. This was a show with a character arc, one that ended in a bang befitting the trajectory it took. Not a Big Bang, as amusing and diverting as that show might be, but a shattering of how we think of our beloved TV dads, of whom Bryan Cranston stood as a goofy ambassador before he took on the role of pater familias of the White clan. It is exciting to think that this really is as good as television can be.
It is also a little unnerving. All those people who told me, for years, how great "Breaking Bad" was. I didn't listen. Maybe I have to start listening.