9 PM EST, AMC NETWORK…
James Badge Dale
October 18, 2010
September 7, 2010
Now for some news the gib heads aren’t going to love. The AMC top drama, Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as meth makers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will not return to the air in March, where it debuted and aired in its first 3 seasons, but instead will return in July of 2011, making the hardened legion of BrBa faithful very unhappy.
July 2011 seems a long way away, doesn’t it? It sounds almost… futuristic.Unfortunately, that futuristic date will be the premiere of Breaking Bad‘s fourth season, which has been pushed back four months from its original March start date, according to Deadline TV.
“”I think what AMC is thinking here is there will be less competition for us — particularly from the broadcast networks — if we launch our season during the summer than if we come back again like we did this time in March,” shared star Bryan Cranston, who plays the main character Walter White on AMC’s hit series.
If you’re worried about still having a year to get your Breaking Bad fix, don’t worry. AMC will be churning out mini-episodes for you over the break. The show goes back into production in January, when these short clips (less than five minutes) will be filmed.
Interstitials? Meaningful ones that advance the plot during our long, painful separation from that sick blue crystal? I hope Cranston, who also directs most episodes, is right, but we are skeptical, especially after watching and being less than impressed with Trueblood’s meaningless, random, and haphazard minisodes.
What about Breaking Bad coming back in July–when Mad Men has always debuted? Is AMC prepared to steal Sunday nights next summer with a blockbuster lineup that includes what many regard as television’s top two dramas? Could the more popular Mad Men be moved up to March, where it can probably better handle the competition that Breaking Bad is trying to avoid? Because of Mad Men’s production schedule, a move to March on short notice might not even be possible.
And will the slow moving Rubicon prove itself to be a worthy cornerstone of Sunday night programming by the time that either season 4 of Breaking Bad or season 5 of Mad Men begins? We’re pulling for Rubicon, but we haven’t seen anything so far to warrant the status of a show that will achieve even cult popularity.
At least Breaking Bad fans who watch Entourage have gotten a little Saul Goodman fix of late. The hilarious Bob Odenkirk has a recurring role on Entourage this season as Mark Cuban’s business associate.
August 10, 2010
AMC, the top dog in creating cable dramas, even ahead of the always busy new programming department at HBO, debuted its third original program this summer–Rubicon–starring James Badge Dale, who you may have caught in HBO’s Pacific. Their first two originals, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, are probably finest A and finest B, when it comes to acted dramas on television right now.
The bar is obviously set high on Dale, who will no doubt be compared to Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston, and on a show that takes its name from the Greek pass that the Roman army took on the orders of Caesar in 49 B.C., and which has come to mean “a limit that when passed or exceeded permits of no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.” Dale, playing Will Travers, an intelligence analyst at a high level think tank, is a widower who lost his wife and daughter in 9/11, and who mostly lives an isolated existence. Travers’ father-in-law and boss, David Hadas (Peter Gerety), is killed in a train crash, and Will is quickly offered his old job of team leader. While Will was conflicted about remaining in their employ, he takes the job so he can pursue the mystery of what really happened to his father-in-law, who sent him a number of clues as part of a code he wanted Will to break in relation to his murder, we presume, which started with him parking his car on the morning of the train crash in spot # 13–something the superstitious Hadas would never do unless he was trying to get someone’s attention.
Before the crash, Travers was depressed, and had confided to Hadas that he missed his family and that he hated his job. After the crash, Will is quickly offered the promotion, though the dirt wasn’t dry on Hadas’ casket, literally. Will is approached by Kale Ingram (Arliss Howard), who is the highest ranking employee to work “downstairs”, at Hadas’ funeral. Will says he’s going to reject the offer, but pleas from co-workers, and more importantly, clues from David, compel him to change his mind. A retired analyst, Ed Bancroft (Roger Robinson), who Will has just met but who may now be his only confidante, figures out that a piece of information that David left Will was a match book code–one where each person has the same book, and they look up a series of letter postions to put a message together–ingenius, because it can never be cracked without knowing what book was used. David had given Will a book right before his death, and Will looks up the letters which form the sentence, “they hide in plain sight.”
Obviously Hadas is referring to Will’s co-workers and superiors. Will’s assistant (Jessica Collins) happens to be secretly giving info to Kale Ingram about the different members of the team. Kale makes a point of asking if Will is overly preoccupied with David’s murder. Kale may very well know what happened to Hadas, and their boss, Truxton Spangler (Michael Christopher), it looks like, may be part of the group responsible for Hadas’ death. Will’s first meeting with Spangler was tense, at which, Spangler shows them a picture of George Beck, a German Muslim person of interest to the agency, and says of the two guys in the photo with him, “I’d like to know who they are.”
Will, who walked up to the roof and stood out on the ledge for a minute, before walking in and taking his new job, has eyes on him. His rooftop dalliances are being photographed (by Isiah Whitlock Jr., who played state senator Clay Davis on The Wire), and Will is being followed. David, who gave him his motorcycle before he died, left Will a revolver, and a strip of coded numbers inside the seat–numbers we would later learn correlated to the dates the Yankees won their 27 championships, something David knew Will would know.
David wasn’t the only person to die early on in Rubicon, as in the very first scene, we see billionaire magnate Tom Rhumor (Bill Murray buddy Harris Yulin), upon seeing a green four leaf clover on his morning paper, take out a gun and blow his brain’s out. The clover was significant to Will, who spotted a trend in the crossword puzzles of a few major papers, that there was a pattern of clues representing the 3 branches of government, and the fourth–the intelligence community–all represented by a four leaf clover. Will would piece together the signifcance, that the crosswords were a go code for revenge killings, after another analyst tells him that a similar pattern in 11 newspaper crosswords in 1983 came right after a terrorist attack, and that a few days later, a number of senior Hezbollah money men went missing.
Will thinks that David’s train crashed because of that go code, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this all connects to George Beck, and has terrorist implications. It wouldn’t surprise me–in fact–I predict that at some point we will learn that the agency where Will works knew the towers were going to fall. Will, to find the truth, must pass the rubicon, and probably has already. Dale plays an intellectual, not a brute, so it should be interesting to see how he handles himself with that gun, and with the weird shadowy types who are following him.
Will Travers may not be Don Draper or Walter White, and the vague intrigue of Rubicon may not yet compare with beauty of Mad Men or the grit of Breaking Bad, but Will is a character to root for on an intelligent show.
Will Travers, welcome to the Layer Cake.
June 14, 2010
I hate to be so critical, especially of my co-number one favorite program, along with AMC’s other masterwork drama, Mad Men, but Breaking Bad for us ended on a very sour note, with s3 e13 entitled “Full Measure.” Let’s see if we got this right? Walt is somehow safe now that Gale (David Costabile, Flight of the Conchords), of only 3 episode fame, has been eliminated. That’s seems preposterous to us, preposterous that Mike (Jonathan Banks), after we see him kill like five cartel gunmen who broke in to Gus’s factory, is going to acede to any of Walt’s desperate, dying pleas. And then the fact that the got to Gale? From Gus’s perspective, any chemistry grad student in the world could probably analyze the blue and then replicate it by knowing it’s chemical composition and exact ingredients.
At best here, are they going to try to stretch Gus’s life for a few episodes up to a season? It doesn’t seem practical, considering Walt’s propensity for murder and the fact that Walt also knows his days are numbered. Walt is going to have to strike first, and he’s going to have to kill Mike, and good luck to him on that, because Mike proved last night he is a stone cold assasin. So Walt has to get Mike and Gus and the young kid Victor (Jeremiah Batsui), who seems to be very quick with a gun himself. It was nice to see Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), helping Walt and Jessie (Aaron Paul), and we are glad Saul’s character lives on, but even the resourceful and imaginative attorney is not going to be able to do anything for Walt now, who is in a bit of a murder or be murdered predicament.
Plus, what’s with the flashback to when Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn, Deadwood) bought their house? Was it a message of their one time innocence, with him having a full head of hair and her pregnant and youthful? Because I thought, maybe they were going to buy a new house. Now looking back, It seemed to me a bit dramatic. As a fan who wants to see them get away with it, I like to have a little piece of mind for the character’s safety, especially at the end of a season. Jessie is basically on the run, and Walt just killed his workers last week, and that was about to get him killed, until he killed another of their workers? And that’s not going to get him killed? They are gearing up for a big war between Walt and Jessie and Mike and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) and Gus’s boy. That’s one thing to look forward to for next season. Hopefully, they can kill these guys quick and then go to Saul and let Saul find them another connect, which should be easily done for a man of Saul’s talents.
Now if you looked at your program guides on your televisions, they said that Breaking Bad was going to be 1:47. Instead, it was 56 minutes, and then AMC rolls into the first episode of Rubicon, no commercials. I’ve paid very little attention to Rubicon (starring James Badge Dale, below), and I don’t really know any of the actors well, but I am willing to say, like I would with an HBO show, that’s it’s probably worth watching, given the networks’s track record with these type of shows. And on one hand, you commend AMC for knowing that they are going to have to advertise and preview Rubicon, because it’s not a Breaking Bad or a Mad Men, and it is going to need to get some exposure. But to sneak it in at the back of a Breaking Bad finale? Bad form on AMC.
By the way, we did like the first Rubicon, which has the following concept: a really brilliant guy gets a super important job at a thinktank, and now he is going to get to make calls on some really serious and secret things. Good enough for us. But be honest about it, please. Now in relation to the season 3 Mad Men finale AMC played at 2 AM, the Breaking Bad finale paled in comparison. AMC’s two supershows are inevitably to be compared, and the Mad Men finale, in which Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty (January Jones) split up, and that he, Sterling (John Slattery) and Cooper (Robert Morse) form their own company with Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Pryce (Jared Harris), Olsen (Elisabeth Moss), and Crane (Rich Sommer), and bring Joan (Christina Hendricks) back to the fold, was nowhere near topped by Breaking Bad’s uneasy and unrealistic finale, one of the few episodes to ever disappoint us.