Yucking Up “The Walking Dead” to a Few More Emmys: Comic Tips from Three Great Dramas–“Justified,” “The Wire,” and “Breaking Bad”

Granted it’s a zombie apocalypse; granted it’s exhausting peeking around every corner; granted Atlanta in the summer without air-conditioning is brutal.  But come on, let’s have a little levity. There’s a fine line between tragedy and comedy.  Shakespeare knew this as he preceded the haunted and soon to be hysterical Hamlet in the graveyard with a pun-contest with a local gravedigger.  Even Mercutio, after he was stabbed, found time to squeeze out a groaner:  “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.” And what works for the Bard, certainly bears true for three of my favorite dramas. Justified (FX) In Justified, Timothy Oliphant is sentenced to his home town of Kentucky after going all Dirty Harry in the opening scene of the opening episode.  He is forced to not only deal with his childhood buddy and current supremacist outlaw Boyd Crowder, the most verbose, eloquent, polite and delightful psychopath… Read More…

Too-Tidy? Breaking Bad’s 94%-Pure, True-Blue Conclusion

The reviews were in last Monday for the finale of Breaking Bad and some cried:  “It’s too tidy.  It’s too neat.  The rest of the show wasn’t like this.”  It was the polar opposite of the terrible “But-They-Were-All-Dead-All-Along” finale of Lost.  It had no irritating fade to black with Tony’s knowing smile as he sees his daughter or a hit-man in The Sopranos.  Sure, Walter White didn’t wake up beside Suzanne Pleshette like the end of The Newhart Show, but the ending of Breaking Bad was completely satisfying because it was so neat–as precise as Walt’s nearly pure blue meth. Marty Robbins’ classic “El Paso” is the song that Walt sings to himself as he assembles the ol’ “machine-gun-in-the-oversized trunk” trick.  We don’t know what’s going on.  We’ve seen the gun for many episodes.  But our complete trust in Walt’s intelligence (for bad or good) is what made the show… Read More…

Don Draper & Tony Soprano: Smoking Alpha-Males at Mid-Life Crisis

The pilot episode of Mad Men tracked the 1960 day-in-the-life of the smoking, charming, Don Draper at mid-climb up the slippery advertising ladders of Manhattan.  He’s confident, women roll out of bed with him and greasy-haired society boys wish they could be him; what’s not to like?  Then, in the episode’s final scene, he pulls into the driveway of his domestic life in the suburbs.  And to boot, his wife is a model and his kids are cute. It’s a great “reveal” that sets the tone for the rest of the double-life that is “draped” from the rest of the world.  As the series moves along, we discover plenty of dark secrets including a war-time identity switch and an odd California marriage to a doomed nice lady.   There’s this tightrope walk that my wife and I have with many of these successful cable protagonists.  Do we want Walt to… Read More…