August 11th see’s the return of seminal Vince Gilligan (yes, seminal) series Breaking Bad starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. It’s also the final eight episodes of what will undoubtably go down as one of the greatest TV series ever produced. AMC have a history of producing greatness on the small screen, with Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad all showing on the network. Mad Men is currently going strong, about to enter its last season, The Walking Dead, whilst not consistent, is a ratings winner and Breaking Bad is the critical darling.
This is all well and good, but what about those of us that live in the UK? Breaking Bad has a problematic history over here, and it’s difficult to see why. It’s probably best to go back to the beginning. Season one originally aired over here on FX, a channel home to many great american tv series including Family Guy and Dexter. Dexter has a great love over here, so it made sense a programme like Breaking Bad, which has garnered as much critical acclaim over its course would do well, however, when it aired over here, it managed “…consolidated ratings of around 120,000 people”. To put that into perspective, around 300,000 watched the first episode of Dexter. Some people have put the figures down to a difference in culture. After all, the thought of having to pay for medical treatment to most brits is absurd, so that someone would turn to crime to help with cancer is hard to swallow. I disagree with this though, some of us Brits are smart enough to know a good show when we see one (aside from pap like Geordie Shore and Made In Chelsea). I think the concept of Dexter is much more outlandish than Breaking Bad, yet that has succeeded.
In 2009, Channel 5, purveyor of terrible over dramatised ‘documentaries’ and other such nonsense, picked up the rights to season 2 of the show. It didn’t fare much better, despite being a terrestrial channel with which everyone had access. Channel 5 has been the death knell for many shows so it doesn’t surprise me that it didn’t succeed. It was rumoured some time ago that Sky were looking into getting the rights for all of AMC’s biggest shows, including The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, in an effort to buoy its Sky Atlantic channel, this deal however did not materialise and whilst Mad Men found a home on Sky One, and The Walking Dead found love on FX, Breaking Bad was left as homeless as most of its blue meth smoking crack addicts.
Breaking Bad never aired on a UK channel again, and whilst no concrete information is available as to why, my simple explanation is as simple as, a lot of people aren’t willing to give show’s a good run of episodes anymore before tossing them aside. Breaking Bad’s first season was not perfect. It was well written, but it was a slow burn. The pace picked up with season two, but it was from three onward the show began to truly shine. For me season four was quite possibly the best television season ever. Full stop. No arguments.
So where is Breaking Bad in the UK? Well, you can currently watch it on Netflix, and you definitely should if you have a subscription, it’s worth the £5.99 for a month just to watch all 4 and a half seasons. Breaking Bad is currently, and will go down as, one of the best dramas ever in film or television, the writing is second to none, the acting, particularly from Cranston and Paul is sublime and the pacing of each episode is stellar. It never took of over here for various reasons, I honestly think though that if a big channel such as Sky One or Atlantic had stuck with it, there would be a lot more love for the series over here, as it stands, one of the greatest pieces of television in our history will never get it’s deserved audience, not over here at any rate.