John Grindrod: Breaking (the) ‘Bad’ habit

First Posted: 2/16/2015

Ordinarily, I try to get some writing done from my hotel room when I travel for business, which I do pretty regularly. It kind of helps me get ahead in my busy life.

Last month I had checked in, finished my paperwork and was looking forward to some extra time to get something written before meeting family for dinner.

When about to get down to work, I snapped on the TV, just — I promised myself — for a moment. Well, that moment turned basically into the entire two hours I had before I had to leave, thanks to a dirty trick pulled by AMC, which happened to running a “Breaking Bad” marathon. For those of you not familiar with the show that concluded in September 2013, the seminal series created by Vince Gilligan is about a high-school chemistry teacher who, one might say with tongue in cheek, goes through a mid-life crisis and becomes the preeminent cooker of meth in all of New Mexico.

Playing the role of Walter White, actor Bryan Cranston absolutely knocks the part out of the park as does his accomplice, a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul. Secondary characters are equally compelling, and I found the show as addicting as some feel the product Walter and Jesse manufacture is. Of all the secondary characters, the lawyer who tries to keep our antiheroes a step ahead of the law with every sleazy trick known to the legal profession, Saul, played by Bob Odenkirk, to me is most interesting.

For me, the show remains as fine a crime drama as has ever run on TV. When I told family about my wasted time, we laughed at how powerless a compelling TV show can make you. I told them, despite my having seen almost every one of the 62 episodes, I couldn’t look away, and the work I had slotted didn’t get done.

However, the episode in which the marathon was when I turned that TV on simply was too good not to watch again — the episode when Walter’s wife discovers her husband is a drug dealer.

Following grabbing the check, I headed back to the hotel, full of resolve to get some writing done.

However, when I returned to the room — where I’d left the TV on to fool the bad guys — I again got sucked down into the “Breaking Bad” vortex, as the episode was just starting when Walter’s brother-in-law Hank, a DEA agent, comes within a whisker of catching both Walter and Jesse in the RV they used as a rolling meth-cooking lab. That basically shot the rest of the evening.

While I pride myself in breaking free from TV and have scoffed at those who sit staring at the screen for hours on end, I can’t be a hypocrite here. Every so often a show will come along that captivates me and renders me weak.

And, with “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul,” a prequel having aired on Sunday and Monday the weekend before last in a two-part premier on AMC, I guess I’m hooked again! As the events at a hotel proved last month, “Breaking Bad” habits are bad habits to break.