Posts Tagged ‘Breaking Bad’

TV’s Wide Range: Then and Now, Best and Worst

November 28, 2016
From 'Sonny & Cher' to 'The Civil War' -- and Walter White, Barney Fife and Tony Soprano too. Read all about 'em in this week's MediaPost TV blogs, below.

From ‘Sonny & Cher’ to ‘The Civil War’ — and Walter White, Barney Fife and Tony Soprano too. Read all about ’em in last week’s MediaPost TV blogs, below.



NEW YORK, Nov. 28, 2016 — A short week and a long weekend: Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Please read last week’s MediaPost TV blogs, right here:

Monday, Nov. 21: Comparing The ’70s To Today After Stumbling On ‘Sonny & Cher’

Tuesday, Nov. 22: Who Is Your Favorite TV Character?

Wednesday, Nov. 23: Much Of TV Might Be Trash, But There Is Plenty Of Treasure Too

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Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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Good riddance, 2013: My TV year in review

December 11, 2013
With highlights like this, who needs to remember 2013? Bill Maher compared Donald Trump to an orangutan and the feud Maher ignited lasted most of the year.

With highlights like this, who needs to remember 2013? Bill Maher compared Donald Trump to an orangutan and the feud Maher ignited lasted most of the year.


NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2013 — It was one of the strangest years in my long personal history on the TV beat.

Looking back in search of the year’s highlights, I find mostly lowlights.

With a few notable exceptions, the TV stories I covered that drew our attention in 2013 were either contentious and crude or irrelevant and trivial.

Falling into the former category: Alec Baldwin becoming embroiled in at least three controversies over slurs (two homophobic and one racial) he probably uttered (and then denied) in confrontations with reporters and photographers who doorstepped him outside his New York apartment house.

Plus, at least two incidents in which TV personalities flipped each other the bird on TV: David Letterman flourishing his middle digit at guest Rob Lowe in October, and Savannah Guthrie doing the same to Matt Lauer when he made some stupid comment about her unfamiliarity with a vacuum cleaner on “The Today Show.”

Here’s a request: Hey, you television people, how about dialing down the crass behavior in 2014?  Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.

Monkey see, monkey do: Justin Bieber and capuchin monkey (inset).

Monkey see, monkey do: Justin Bieber and capuchin monkey (inset).

On the trivial side: The late-night hosts joked for the better part of a week about Justin Bieber having his monkey confiscated in Germany; they spent a month (or more) doing jokes about twerking and Miley Cyrus; and the entire year joking about Chris Christie’s weight.

Sharon Osbourne revealed she had a fling long ago with Jay Leno; rotund comic Louie Anderson was somehow persuaded to participate in the ABC diving-competition show called “Splash”; Hollywood heavyweight Jeff Garlin went after some guy’s Mercedes in an L.A. parking dispute; and the year’s most talked-about TV movie was “Sharknado.”

Everyone lied about Steve Carell returning for the series finale of “The Office” (they said he wouldn’t, and then he did).  Barbara Walters lied (seemingly) about her retirement (she said she wouldn’t, but then she announced she would) and about Elisabeth Hasselbeck leaving “The View” (Walters said Elisabeth wouldn’t be leaving and then Elisabeth left).

My favorite story of the year? Probably the feud Bill Maher ignited with Donald Trump when Maher comedically likened Trump’s orange hair to the fur of an orangutan.   The “feud” continued through at least three-quarters of the year, and I got five stories out of it stretching from January to September — here, here, here, here and here.

It was a year of sad news: Cory Monteith of “Glee” fatally overdosing at age 31, and James Gandolfini suddenly dying too, at age 51 — not that I ever met or knew either of them.

Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem

I am, or was, acquainted with Casey Kasem, and the stories emanating from his household this year about his relatives fighting over access to him while he suffers from what seems like a grave illness were also sad.  Though it’s been years since I last talked to him, I have always thought of him as one of the finest people I have ever come across in the broadcasting business.

The biggest ongoing story of 2013 was one that will be continued this coming February: The changes in late-night TV.  The ball got rolling last January when Jimmy Kimmel moved to 11:35 p.m. on ABC, followed by the announcement later in the year that Jay Leno would relinquish “The Tonight Show” to Jimmy Fallon.

Prediction: Fallon will do about as well as Conan O’Brien (if he’s lucky), although it’s not as likely that Jay Leno will come back this time.

A&E cancelled “Hoarders.”  And “Breaking Bad” had a series finale that everyone knew deep down was wholly implausible, and yet the “critics” gushed about it anyway.

I wrote slightly more than 600 stories in 2013, appeared on TV three times, and did six radio interviews — all on WOR in New York and five of them on “The Joan Hamburg Show,” which next year will be banished to weekends.  Alas.

I made two appearances in public, moderating seminars put on by the Center for Communication in New York.  Our panel of reality-TV execs from four cable channels last March was enlivened when a female questioner from our audience stepped up to the microphone we set up near the seats and, without hesitation, removed her shirt.  It was another first for me …

I met few celebrities and interviewed even fewer in 2013.  One exception was Lena Dunham, who was focused, intelligent and shrewd — a very good interview subject — when I met her at HBO last January.  I still don’t think I’ve ever watched an entire episode of “Girls,” however.

In July, I came to the realization that I have spent 30 years on the TV beat when I came across my first bylined TV story, a Q&A by phone with Joan Rivers, published on July 25, 1983, in the now-defunct trade newspaper called Broadcast Week.

I still cannot decide if this was a milestone worth celebrating.

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Please read my stories on the Xfinity TV Blog

October 21, 2013
Look for stories on these hot topics ion the Xfinity TV Blog -- just click on the links, below.

Look for stories on these hot topics on the Xfinity TV Blog, and much, more more  — just click on the links, below.

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2013 — Many thanks to all of you repeat visitors here at Most of my work can now be found here — on Comcast’s Xfinity TV Blog — which you are cordially invited to click on and read.

Recent stories and columns include:

Letterman Can’t Pin Down O’Reilly on Redskins Name Issue

More Than 8 Million Watch ‘Duck Dynasty’ Denizens Make Jerky

Kerry Washington To Host ‘SNL’ For The First Time Nov. 2

Monster Ratings for ‘Walking Dead’ Season Premiere

‘Breaking Bad’ Finale: A Lot of Blood, And Revenge Served Cold

Cote de Pablo’s Ziva Says Good-Bye to ‘NCIS’

NBC’s Costas Comes Out Against Redskins Team Name

HBO’s ‘Girls’ Returns Jan. 12, Along With Debut of ‘True Detective’

… and many, many more.

Adam Buckman

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Hard-boiled hicks: ‘Justified’ and ‘Breaking Bad’

March 31, 2010

Timothy Olyphant plays an old-fashioned marshall in a new-fangled world on “Justified.” Photo: FX


NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 — It grows tiresome to watch all the cops, robbers, lawyers and doctors conducting their fictionalized business in the TV shows based in the big cities — L.A., New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, even Philadelphia (“Cold Case”).

So it comes as a relief when TV’s fictional crime wave spreads outward from the nation’s densest population centers to other areas that have long been under-represented in the cops-and-crime canon.

Two examples: “Justified,” which just started its first season on FX, and “Breaking Bad,” AMC’s homely series, now in its third season, about TV’s most unlikely hero, a low-paid schoolteacher with cancer who takes up a new trade as a methamphetamine manufacturer.

The two shows are exploring seamy underworlds rarely visited by TV show-runners and their production crews.  “Justified” (Tuesday nights at 10 eastern time on FX) brings the ethos of old movie westerns to the backwoods of rural Kentucky, where the bad guys are white supremacists involved in the drug trade.  And “Breaking Bad” (Sunday nights at 10 and 11 eastern on AMC) takes place in New Mexico, around Albuquerque, in suburban housing tracts where the primary color is brown — from the houses to the packed dry earth.

Bryan Cranston in “Breaking Bad.”

In fact, this season, the environs of “Breaking Bad” seem even browner than usual as if a decision was made to affix brown filters to every camera.  If the visuals seem darker, it might be because the show is exploring some dark dramatic territory — setting up the season’s storyline against the backdrop of a horrific airline accident that spread a grotesque debris field of airplane pieces and human flesh over the community where this show’s cancer-ridden anti-hero, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), lives and teaches high school chemistry.

As the season began, Walt’s meth business is on hold and he is estranged from his wife.  In addition, he is in the crosshairs of a pair of tough twin hitmen from Mexico who are apparently on a mission of revenge having to do with the killing last season of their cousin, the drug dealer Tuco.

Who needs big cities?  As they crossed the border into the U.S., the twins murdered an entire truckload of migrants and burned their bodies on a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere — demonstrating that the emptiest geography in the whole world, even baking in the glare of the daytime sun, can be a lot more menacing than a dark alley between city buildings at night.

Meanwhile, the rural Kentucky of “Justified” resembles the semi-lawless towns of movie westerns — the ones that always represented the borderline between unchecked savagery and civilization and were patrolled by a lone soul sworn to establish order.

While the U.S. marshall of “Justified” is not exactly on the job by himself (he’s a member of a well-staffed regional office of U.S. marshalls), he goes about his business as if he’s Gary Cooper in “High Noon.”   In the show, U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens gets reassigned, following a fatal shooting in Miami, to the rural region of Kentucky where he grew up.  Timothy Olyphant plays this guy in pretty much the same way he played a marshall on HBO’s “Deadwood” — as a man of few words, who engages his quarries with a piercing stare, and who has a tendency toward maneuvering bad guys into confrontations that usually end with him shooting them.

This kind of show lives or dies on the quality of those confrontations.  And so far, some of the confrontation scenes seem better choreographed than others, which is to say that these key scenes are not always providing maximum satisfaction.  Still, for reasons having to do with this show’s unusual locale and the hard-to-peg magnetism of its star, I have somehow become hooked enough to watch every episode that FX has provided so far.

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