Breaking Bad‘s terrific second season was tightly plotted ahead of time, with ample foreshadowing throughout. For the show’s third season, however, creator Vince Gilligan and his writers turned into expert jazz players, improvising every note, changing rhythm, and exploring all sorts of new grooves. Gilligan and Co. repeatedly force science-teacher-turned-methmaker Walt and his junkie partner Jesse into corners there’s seemingly no way they’ll get out of; and the creative team had no idea if they could either, until they started writing the next episode. An approach like this could easily have been disastrous, but instead makes for one of the all-time great seasons of television. The jagged, frayed chemistry between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul makes for the best duo on TV, both giving fierce performances. Stand-out episodes in a stand-out season include “One Minute,” with an intense set piece for the ages; “Fly,” which takes place entirely in the lab, examining Walt and Jesse’s relationship; and “Full Measure,” the epic season finale. Extras include commentaries by Gilligan and the cast; and a number of featurettes.
Director: Robert Luketic
Writers: Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin, based on a story by DeRosa
After 2004’s The Butterfly Effect, I swore off Ashton Kutcher movies. Now, of all the terrible actors in all the movies in all the world, there are many worse than Kutcher. Rob Schneider, for instance. I’ve successfully avoided Schneider’s films for three years, or eight if you discount the many bizarre cameo appearances he makes in Adam Sandler comedies. Why did I swear off Kutcher, then? He’s certainly more talented than Schneider, exuding at least a slight hint of prettyboy charm. It’s because there is no reality in which I can conceive of Kutcher doing something interesting. He just doesn’t have it in him. He’s not interesting to watch, he never has anything interesting to say, and his status as the second most-followed person on Twitter–trailing, of all people, Britney Spears–is merely indicative of the fact that even hip social media sites fall prey to old prom king-type popularity contests.