Last week, while purchasing the Black-Eyed Peas' album 'The E.N.D.' at Dimple Records, I saw that they were also selling "Breaking Bad" - Season 2, on DVD for $32.00. This Albuquerque-based AMC series caught my interest, not only because it's based in my hometown, but also because Jerry said it was one of the best TV series he had ever seen. So, sight unseen, I eagerly paid the $32.00 (plus tax) for Season 2. Even if Jerry was wrong, at least it would be a welcome piece of Albuquerquiana for my collection (I still can't quite believe how New Mexico's star has risen in film & TV over the last several decades - Governor Bill Richardson grovelled and spun, and wheedled and buttonholed, and bent every child labor law, and offered ridiculous tax concessions to Hollywood - but it worked!)
What a great series! Tense Southwestern film noir along the lines of 'No Country For Old Men' (much of which was also filmed in New Mexico). Jerry was right! I've seen just five episodes so far, but they were gripping TV at it's best! I will have to get Season 1 too, and all the others!
For an Albuquerque native like me, "Breaking Bad" is very jarring to watch. Such dark, evil doings on the sunny, happy, streets of the Duke City! And the camera doesn't lie either; it is Albuquerque, in every familiar picayune detail (but a side of Albuquerque I'm definitely unfamiliar with).
Like many Western cities, there is a lot of terrain relief in Albuquerque. Thus, even incidental views of the horizon are packed with information regarding filming location. Every corner of the city has a different horizon, a different look, and they are all imprinted on the minds of every Albuquerque resident.
Season 2 starts out in a junk yard. Now, there are junk yards in the South Valley, in the strip of land between Broadway and I-25, south of Gibson, near the airport. Indeed, the bland, pediment-like horizon visible in the distance stamps the location as South Valley. Bingo! One house had an unfamiliar architecture, but the plane trees by the sidewalk stamp the location as probably near the University, where plane trees are common. Bingo! There were brief glimpses of the Kimo & State Theaters. Plus, the locus point of the DEA side of the show; the real Federal Building downtown! Bruce says "Breaking Bad" filmed recently at a house a block away from where he lives, in Martineztown. He pointed out the house to me too. I'm eager to see this house show up on the series, and if I'm really lucky, maybe see Bruce's house too!
The cinematographer is in love with the beautiful monsoonal Southwestern skies, full of beautiful clouds. It's gorgeous! So far, though, I don't see the Sandia Mountains. Maybe in other episodes?
The sister-in-law has a problem with kleptomania, and her sister confronts her with her theft of an item from Gertrude Zachary's. Now, Gertrude Zachary is one of Albuquerque's most famous merchants, specializing in Indian jewelry, so the mention here amounts to valuable product placement. Nice! Next time I'm in Albuquerque, and I get the itch to shoplift, Gertrude Zachary's will be first on my list!
And the DEA raid on the motel. That would be the Crossroads Motel, across Central Avenue from Presbyterian Hospital, and thus located just one or two hundred yards from the location where I was born! Watching this series is a very personal experience!
Albuquerque is a great place to host "Breaking Bad". It's just a little too close to Juarez for comfort, isn't it? No escape from geography!
But then, in these days of transnational drug cartels, we are all just a little too close to Juarez for comfort, aren't we?
But, truth be told, Juarez really isn't the problem at all, is it? Especially when one understands chemistry well, like 'Heisenberg' does!
Viva Film noir! Viva 'Breaking Bad'!