Saying "Breaking Bad" is TV's best show on the air seems to be almost understatement.
I'll go one better: I think "Breaking Bad" is one of the top 10 best shows EVER.
While the show has the premise of an ordinary man, Walter White, in an extraordinary situation, as portrayed by Emmy winner Bryan Cranston, White is the everyman we the viewers can relate to.
When the series started, White was in a situation that was identifiable to anyone -- working two jobs to make ends meet with a special needs son and a baby on the way, he finds out that he has cancer and doesn't have the money to provide for his health care, let alone take care of his family when he dies.
He's a regular guy who played by the rules all of his life, and it got him nowhere when things counted most.
So he turned to the one skill he's better at than anything else -- chemistry. He created a new form of pure crystal meth with a former student, Jesse (Aaron Paul), a dropout who introduced him to society's underbelly. And the plan worked: Walt has made enough money to take care of all his bills as well as set his family up for life. Not only that, but his cancer is in remission.
But as shown by series creator Vince Gilligan, Walt has compromised his integrity every step along the way. At first, it was baby steps, but as Walt and Jesse became more and more involved with criminals, their behavior changed to reflect that.
It wasn't an overnight thing, to be sure, but Walt has become a bad guy. Not only that, but he's ended up corrupting others along the way, including his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn).
Last season, we saw the depths that Walt would sink to. He killed his rival, drug lord Gus Fring (an Emmy worthy Giancarlo Esposito) in one of the most memorable deaths in TV history. He poisons (though doesn't kill) a child close to Jesse's heart, then frames Gus for the crime in order to ensure Jesse's wavering loyalty.
The man that Walter White was is completely dead. He's become Heisenberg, the criminal alter ego he created.
What Gilligan has done has essentially re-written Machiavelli's "The Prince," showing how power corrupts while questioning if the ends to justify the means. While Walt had the noblest of intentions -- taking care of his family, he has to live with how many lives he's ruined to do that. He seems to be living with it just fine.
As the fifth season opens, Walt has seemingly won by eliminating Gus and bringing Jesse back into the fold. His brother-in-law DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) can close the book on Gus, seemingly the end of the southwest's biggest drug lord.
But as always in the universe that Gilligan has created, nothing is as it seems and before long, problems do crop up.
This is the final season for "Breaking Bad" (AMC, Sunday, 10 p.m.), with eight episodes now and eight more to air in the fall. Enjoy it while it lasts.
WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: "Common Law" (USA, 10 p.m.) returns tonight with a new episode.
On Saturday, while CBS burns off new episodes of "NYC 22" from 8-10 p.m. and NBC does the same with "The Firm" at 10 p.m., BBC America continues with the wickedly brilliant "Twenty Twelve" with two episodes beginning at midnight. One can only hope the real Olympics is this entertaining.
On Sunday, it's a pretty busy night in addition to the "Breaking Bad" premiere.
Everyone's favorite team of criminals returns tonight on a new "Leverage" (TNT, 8 p.m.), which is followed by new episodes of "Falling Skies" and "The Great Escape."
A&E airs new episodes of "The Glades" and "Longmire," while USA debuts the miniseries "Political Animals" at 10 p.m., which I reviewed yesterday.
I still wonder why I am tuning in to "The Newsroom" (HBO, 10 p.m.), but apparently I am. It follows a new "True Blood" at 9 p.m. Showtime has new installments of "Weeds" and "Episodes" from 10-11 p.m.
On the networks, CBS has "Big Brother" at 8 p.m., while ABC airs "Secret Millionaire," followed by "Extreme Makeover."
Finally, "Masterpiece Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) continues with a new "Inspector Lewis."