I was late on this one. I first heard about this series only last September as I witnessed frenetic activity on the twitter timeline about the upcoming series finale. Once I began on episode 1, it was easy becoming a junkie. Blitzkrieged through the rest of the 5 seasons in 5 weeks.
This Vince Gilligan production is as close to perfection as Richmal Crompton's Just William series of books and the British TV series 'Jeeves and Wooster' were to me. At the outset, the hook for me was the underground crystal meth operation spearheaded by an unlikely pair of underdogs - Walter White (WW) & Jesse Pinkman. Gradually it became much more than that. It was like I had shaved my head, grew a french beard and decided to switch on a bomb - a Heisenberg whirlpool that unwittingly took in many others in for a ride as well. All for the family, not.
All of the surrounding characters were brilliantly scripted and casted - a big factor in the success of the show in my opinion. Each one of the characters had enough depth to spin off a series entirely on their own.
After watching the entire season, I have browsed through quite a few reviews and interviews. Much of it has been about the bewilderment about viewers rooting for Walter White despite his evilness. Frankly, it is not the first time an anti-hero character in a movie/TV series has proven popular. At some level, everybody wants to be bad because of all the 'injustices' that one has had to endure. The urge to take on the establishment / society is something again, I reckon, a lot of people would relate to.
What really was cool was the depiction of the inner workings of a crystal meth empire. Which is no different from managing any other business. For instance, there were insights into: (a) strategising - both micro and macro from Saul Bellow-DEA-WW-Gus Fring; (b) managing operational efficiencies from WW-Mike-The man who makes them disappear; (c) people management skills - grooming talent, empowering nobodies, sidelining competition and (d) money laundering from Saul-Skyler.
While searching for stuff to read about the show, I came across an entire series of interviews by Rolling Stone with most of the cast in the run up to the final episode. Some of the ones I found interesting were the one with Giancarlo Esposito 'Gus Fring' (The ending I want is to see is his head on a pike) and Dean Norris 'Hank' (Is Hank the only major character in this show who hasn't broken bad? Absolutely). The others also should be checked out.
I also discovered some great music through the 60 odd episodes - painstakingly shazamed my way to a playlist of 15 odd songs. While David Porter's original score does immense work in the subconscious, here are few songs that stood out - in chronological order: TV On The Radio's DLZ (lead singer being Tunde Adebimpe), The Be Good Tanyas' Waiting around to die and Gnarls Barkley's Who's gonna save my soul.
Rating: * * * *