I talked in general about the series in my column on Friday -- short version: I love Bryan Cranston, here and elsewhere, and found the show overall interesting but not really engrossing or fully-formed yet -- so I'll hit the usual bullet points and then open it up to anybody who watched:
- As rote, lifeless sex scenes go, the eBay/birthday gift thing was especially mortifying (and funny), and of course worked as a nice counterpoint to Walt being sexually aggressive with Skyler in the final scene. Being diagnosed with terminal cancer and getting caught up in the meth world is 95 percent awful for Walt, but there's five percent positive, as he's been woken up from a long slumber.
- The scene where he confronted the bullies at the clothing store reminded me a bit of George Costanza in "The Opposite," where he acts so obviously crazy with the guys behind him that they didn't even dare finding out if he could fight. Obviously, Walt took it a step further by assaulting the biggest guy first, but I wouldn't have been surprised at all if he had finished his rant with, "We're gonna take it outside and I will show you what it's like!"
- I like how chemicals are omnipresent in Walt's life -- not just in his class or cooking meth in the RV with Jesse, but in all the cleaning products and fumes he has to deal with at the car wash, or the way he tries to calm himself after getting the bad news by lighting a series of matches and just appreciating the combustion reaction of it.
- There are a few different scenes where Gilligan trying to make a grand point gets undercut by the reality of the situation. For instance, Walt's big speech to his disinterested class about why he loves chemistry is followed by the revelation that they're already on Chapter 6; isn't that monologue something for earlier in the semester? And even though Walt is saved by the fact that the sirens represent fire trucks and not cops (and by his ineptitude with firearms), wouldn't at least one of the trucks have stopped, even for a second, to see if there were any people injured in what looked like a bad car crash?
- "Mad Men" is pretty much a PG-13 kind of show, in terms of language, skin, etc. The screener version I watched of the "Breaking Bad" pilot was definitely R, with the naked woman helping Jesse escape, Walt and Jesse arguing over the s--t he cooks, etc. But it's still the "Shield" version of R, which means no F-words, as the sound drops out quite noticeably when Walt tries to drop an F-bomb on his car wash boss when he quits.
- Walt literally launders the drug money. Nice.