I’m currently in the process of feeding my Breaking Bad addiction that started about 2 months ago (I’m currently 5 episodes through Season 4). While watching there are about 3 constants that pop in my head. 1 – This show is almost as addicting as LOST. 2 – I never want to do Meth. 3 – Bryan Cranston is amazing.
Cranston is part of one of the single greatest show of all time – Seinfeld: Dr. Tim Whatley, DDS – 5 episodes – 5 great episodes.
Episode 1: The Mom and Pop Store: The episode where George thinks he has Jon Voight’s car and Jerry doesn’t get an invite from Whatley to attend his Thanksgiving party.
Episode 2: The Label Maker: Jerry gives Whatley Jets Super Bowl Tickets. Whatley gives Jerry a Label Maker in return, which happened to be the same label maker Elaine gave Whatley… The birth of “The Re-Gifter”.
Episode 3: The Jimmy: Jerry suspects Whatley is giving out too much Novocain at his dental office and engaging is sexual acts with his patients.
Episode 4: The Yada Yada Yada: The infamous Anti-Dentite episode. Jerry suspects Whatley converted to Judaism for the Jewish jokes.
Episode 5: The Strike: George, Elaine, and Jerry find out at Whatley’s Hanukkah party that a donation has been made in their name to the “Children’s Alliance” – they suspect this was made up by Whatley in order to not give a gift.
The thing about the 5 episodes is that they spanned over the entirety of Seinfeld. His first appearance was on the 94th episode and his last was on the 166th – the show ran for 180. Whatley was memorable, people wanted more of him, and aside from David Puddy I’d argue he was the best returning character the show had.
Post 5 awesome episodes Cranston played Hal in Malcolm in the Middle for 151 episodes. He was nominated for 3 Emmy’s while playing the father to Malcolm and the kids.
Side note: How awesome would Cranston be on “Modern Family” as Phil Dunphy?
For the record, 151 episodes of any TV is kind of a massive accomplishment. It’s the kind of thing that either never happens for actors/actresses or it happens once in a career. It’s also the kind of thing that while it’s happening you end up pigeonholing each actor in their role. Think about any memorable character you’ve ever seen for 5+ years on TV and what they end up doing afterwards. You associate people at what they’re good at, and Cranston is clearly good with comedy.
It’s a double edged sword for actors simply because once you are great as a character that’s what gets you work – so the obvious choice for Cranston is to do comedy over and over again because it’s what will keep him employed. Apparently Cranston had other ideas… Enter Walter White.
Walter White, the Chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer turned Meth producer and occasional dealer. White is the lead badass on Breaking Bad, which is a far cry from Cranston’s comedy we’ve come to know him in. Which means – Cranston did what so many have failed at, he successfully transitioned from show to show, Comedy to Drama, and has sustained as a TV actor. But not only has he sustained; he’s been fucking awesome at it, and at times the best at it.
Cranston has won multiple awards playing Walter White, specifically 3 consecutive Emmy’s. The thing about Cranston is that he’s just a great actor. He’s so incredibly memorable that you have to ask: Is Bryan Cranston the best TV actor ever?
Who else has done such a 180 in public perception than Bryan Cranston? An argument could be made that while he was doing comedy he was part of an ensemble, more so than he is now, but he still stood out more than anyone else. When Cranston is on screen he brings it, who else has done a Cranston? And no, I’m not talking about transitioning from TV to movies - I’m talking about TV to TV.
I seriously can’t think of anyone. One name comes to mind and it’s Ted Danson – Why is Ted Danson in my head?
This is a legit argument. Is he just that good? I think so. Lets not forget he’s sneaking into movies every once in a while (Drive, Contagion, Lincoln Lawyer, Red Tails, the new Total Recall, and Affleck’s upcoming film Argo). Could Cranston go Clooney and turn into a movie star? Honestly… maybe. Why not?
I’ll stand by the fact that anyone who goes from Dr. Tim Whatley to Walter White has to be considered one of the best TV actors of all time. Nobody has jumped from comedy to drama as memorably as Cranston.
If you don’t watch Breaking Bad… do it.