Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman Presents: "The Defense Never Rests - The Case for Hank Schrader"

My apologies to the court for my lateness. The ol' Saulmobile blew out a tire on the way over here, and if you think I was gonna get down on my hands and knees in this outfit, you're crazier than most of my free-as-a-bird clients. This suit cost me almost $200! Anyway, if you'll indulge me for one more moment, as I haven't even had time to see who my client is, much less go over the case...

(looks at file, then sees who's seated a few feet away)

Him? Are you kidding me? His wife was one thing, but...I mean, he's the joker I wanna rip apart in court, not build up.  No offense, ASAC Schrader, but I'm not the guy for your defense--

(Saul looks past the gaggle of spectators and locks eyes with a rather imposing gentlemen. The stone-faced man slowly shakes his head, leading Saul to mutter to himself: "First Fring, then the teacher, now this?  I just can't get a break...")

Ahem...I have in my hand a file...the case against my (closes eyes for a few seconds before proceeding) client ASAC Hank Schrader. Now I bet you all like magic. Who doesn't? When I was a young lad, I always wanted a magician at my party instead of clowns. Of course I'd also rather be considered a magician in court rather than a clown -- something I think even ASAC Schrader has called me once or twice. But today, I'm sure he's hoping for a wave of a magic wand rather than a fart from a whoopie cushion.

Let's look at this case.  This file's so thin we should have a telethon for it. George Clooney and Bob Geldof are airdropping crates as we speak...

(opens file and shakes it out...a single sheet of paper floats out, coming to rest in front of Saul)

Ooh, one whole sheet of paper.  Now what do we have here...has made frequent racist and prejudicial comments in regards to Mexicans.  Please, who are we kidding? The man's partner for most of his career is a Mexican American who bounces each crack back with a Caucasian zinger -- does that make Steven Gomez anti-white people?

(Saul turns to Schrader and whispers, "He's not, right?" Hank rolls his eyes and shakes his head no)

So the charge itself is patently offensive, which defeats its whole purpose. Ala-kazaam -- adios charges of racism.

(Saul rips the top third of the paper off, crumpling it and tossing it away)

Next...with unrestrained force, he did severely beat one Jesse Pinkman, who was unarmed at the time. This again? First off, if Mister Pinkman has chosen not to pursue charges against my client, is it even appropriate that we should decide to pick the scab off this healing wound? I think not.

Secondly, you all met the lovely Mrs. Schrader last week.  A wonderful and caring woman, and my client was deceived into thinking she had been in a horrible car accident. While I simply can't imagine what sort of person could have made such a call to trick ASAC Schrader, but I can imagine how I'd feel. How YOU would feel. How ANY OF US would feel. The very fact that Mister Pinkman is still counted among the living is proof that ASAC Schrader did in fact use restraint in his encounter -- so hocus pocus, I submit that this charge is false as well.

(Saul rips another huge section of the paper away, balling it up and tossing it over his shoulder. Only a tiny slip of paper remains...)

Now what's left...the cold and cruel treatment of his wife during his recovery and rehabilitation. Is that a crime now? Being mean to your wife? Uh oh, better lock up almost half the country then. Even if we put aside how this strong and proud man was reduced to being treated like a newborn baby, do you not remember his wife from last week? An awful and irritating woman, and my client was forced to deal with this hen-pecker with no reprieve for weeks? 

And whether you agree his miserable bedridden manner was justified, just as with the charges relating to Mister Pinkman, if Mrs. Schrader herself is still standing by her husband's side, then who are we to side against him?

Abra-kadabra (the tiny slip of paper catches fire and is an immediate sizzling strip of ash).
No charges, no case, no problem.

The defense rests.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman Presents: "The Defense Never Rests - The Case for Marie Schrader"

If it pleases the court of public opinion, my name is Saul Goodman and I'm here to speak on behalf of one (flips through files) Dong Pow Ching.  Wait, is that a name or a Batman sound effect?  I see here that Mister Ching was caught behind his eating establishment molesting a small animal, a kitty to be precise. Molesting? Please. I think we're confusing bestiality of a mouser with the specialty of the house, er...what? Dong is wrong?  Let me see here (thumbs through files again, finally pulling out a lavender folder).  Oh, it's the Marie Schrader case. Big fan of her chubby hubby, BIG fan (rolls eyes). So let's see what we have here...

It says here she's a big mouthed busybody, she incessantly nags and gossips, and she's never wrong. That's a crime? Then you might as well lock up every wife from sea to shining See You Next Tuesday. This isn't an indictment of my client; it's an indictment of the institution of marriage. Didn't the Supreme Court just strike down anti-marriage legislation, and here I see someone's trying to build those walls right back up.  Well, I for one cannot stand idly by while watching our freedoms erode as the walls of prejudice and hate are erected all around us. I say tear those walls down! Who's with me, say it loud and say it proud: Tear Those Walls Down!

Besides, this country was founded on big mouths. You couldn't shut up most of those founding fathers. Jefferson was the biggest blabbermouth in Virginia. And today, the big mouths are the whistle blowers, the trendsetters, the people who make this country great.  You take away those flapping gums, those runaway chatterboxes -- you take away what makes this the greatest country in the known universe.

There's more?  Let me see (skims through file one more time)...she's been busted for shoplifting? C'mon, we all go through a little Winona phase. Who here hasn't stolen something at one time or another? This little blonde honey in the front row, she's already stolen my heart, should she be put in chains? Actually, that's not a bad idea...(whispers) here's my card honey...for a good time later, better call Saul!

Where was I?  Right, our little purple princess and these violet, I mean vile accusations of theft. Oh, she pled guilty before? Well, then it's clear she suffers from kleptomania.  A disease, ladies and gentlemen. So are we now in the business of imprisoning the sad, sick and diseased among us? Are we going down the road of reviving leper colonies to quarantine those who just need our love and guidance?  

I bet each one of you has a loved one or two suffering from something.  Heart disease, diabetes...heck, I could tell you a story about a client of mine with cancer, but I can't -- you know, attorney/client privilege and all. Are we now advocating tossing all of these unfortunate souls in the clink because of a little cough? That's not my America. That's Hitler's America, and I for one am not going to stand here and let Hitler rise from his bunker grave to take over this great land of ours! If there's one thing I can honestly say about Marie Schrader, it's that she hates Nazis.

So if you're against love, hate freedom and would prefer to exterminate the unhealthy and see the Nazis fly their flag from the top of the White House -- then you should find Marie Schrader guilty. Case closed, see you at the camp.

But if you love this country, love humanity, think freedom's kinda cool and want to keep Hitler dead and buried where he belongs -- then you will find Marie Schrader innocent as a newborn baby left in the freshly fallen snow.

The defense rests.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 Emmys Nominations: My Predictions & Preferences

The 2013 Emmy Nominees were announced this morning.  I haven't read one article nor watched E! or any other site or network that may have already handicapped this award race. This is just me riffing only forty minutes out of bed and learning the nominees literally as I type.

And just to be clear, I'm totally and deliberately snubbing the Movie/Miniseries category, as I think it should now be called the "We Didn't Know if We'd Make the Shortlist in the Categories People Actually Give a Fuck About, so We're Gonna Submit Our Candidates Here" category.  Yeah, I'm looking at you, Sherlock and American Horror Story.  Assholes.

Anyways, let's get this Emmy Party started:

Hugh Bonneville - Downton Abbey
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels - The Newsroom
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Damian Lewis - Homeland
Kevin Spacey - House of Cards

So new nominees like Daniels (whom I forgot about) and Spacey (who I expected) have combined to knock out Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) as well as block Matthew Rhys (The Americans) who had been considered a strong contender.

In this group -- Spacey might actually be the favorite.  I'd say Hamm could pull an upset, but after constantly being nominated with nothing to show for it -- it's hard to really support that statement. Still, he did do some really powerful work this season, so he might have a clearer path than Bonneville, Cranston, Daniels or Lewis -- but I don't think he can get past the new juggernaut in the room named Kevin Spacey.

I'd give it to Jon Hamm as an apology for overlooking him two seasons ago.

Connie Britton - Nashville
Claire Danes - Homeland
Michelle Dockery - Downton Abbey
Vera Farmigia - Bates Motel
Elizabeth Moss - Mad Men
Kerry Washington - Scandal
Robin Wright - House of Cards

Which is the bigger surprise: that they expanded this category to SEVEN nominees (suspect Buscemi's reps are wondering why they couldn't do that for the lead dudes), or that Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) was snubbed, as there was a strong push for her over the past several months. The Americans' Keri Russell is probably considering another disastrous hairdo after being given the high hat. That's for the two Felicity fans out there (a show I never saw myself).

Danes is commonly and constantly showered in Emmy love, but much like Spacey, I think Wright is the lady to beat here. Britton may be TOO safe a choice, Dockery & Farmigia -- the nominations are the wins there.  Moss probably suffers from the same syndrome as Hamm.  Washington does have one of the more buzz-attracting shows & roles, so she's one of the few in the category that could pull off an upset. But I foresee the Cards will be stacked up in favor of Wright.

No muss, no mess...only Moss.

With extremely minimal commentary, here are the nominees for Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress & Guest Actor & Actress in a Drama Series:

Bobby Cannavale - Boardwalk Empire
Jonathan Banks - Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul - Breaking Bad
Jim Carter - Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin - Homeland

I believe it's a face-off between past winners Paul & Dinklage, and Paul comes out on top.

Anna Gunn - Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey
Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones
Morena Baccarin - Homeland
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Christine Baranski - The Good Wife

Is it possible that someone can unseat the Countess? No, probably not, though Anna Gunn's work in "Fifty-One" (the 4th episode of Breaking Bad S5.1) gives her an outside shot.

Rupert Friend - Quinn on Homeland
Robert Morse - Cooper on Mad Men
Harry Hamlin - Cutler on Mad Men
Dan Bucatinsky - Novack on Scandal
Nathan Lane - Hayden on The Good Wife
Michael J. Fox - Canning on The Good Wife

I think it comes down to the guest actors on The Good Wife, and although Fox is always gong to have a certain amount of "Oh, we GOTTA give it to him" impulses that are activated when voters see his name -- Nathan Lane did more heavy lifting in what was otherwise a weaker season of that series, and is more deserving of the award.

Diana Rigg - Olenna on Game of Thrones
Linda Cardelini - Sylvia on Mad Men
Joan Cusack - Sheila on Shameless
Margo Martindale - Claudia on The Americans
Carrie Preston - Elsbeth on The Good Wife
Jane Fonda - Leona on The Newsroom

Let me whittle down these six to a more likely three: Martindale, Preston & Rigg. Martindale won an Emmy a couple years ago for another FX series (Justified) and Preston currently holds down jobs on THREE different series (The Good Wife, True Blood and Person of Interest).

Rigg?  Her full title is DAME ENID DIANA ELIZABETH RIGG. She's essentially the Maggie Smith/Countess/Dowager/Whatever in this category.  Sorry Carrie & Margo, but you're up against thespian royalty here.

Banks, Smith, Morse and Rigg (in a tough pick over Preston).

Onto the comedies...

Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Jason Bateman - Arrested Development
Louis C.K. - Louie
Don Cheadle - House of Lies
Matt LeBlanc - Episodes
Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory

Baldwin and Parsons both have multiple wins in this category, but I don't think either is in line for the award this year. Cheadle and LeBlanc barely cause enough of a ripple to be considered strong contenders.  It really comes down to Bateman and Louis C.K.  There has been an enormous push to award Louis C.K. an Emmy for his performance as opposed to "only" his writing, and I'd have to agree that he's the clear favorite here.

Same, although LeBlanc is pretty damned good.

Laura Dern - Enlightened
Lena Dunham - Girls
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation

A difficult category to call. Lena Dunham was the "It Girl" last year, but she's suffering from a not-so slight backlash after the 2nd season of Girls. Tina Fey may be a sentimental favorite since 30 Rock has now left the air, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a very strong contender (slight pun based on Veep's current storyline).

I don't see Falco returning to the podium again, and Dern's nomination may be here "win enough" here. Poehler is the definite dark horse in this category, and she has the best chance of breaking past Fey and Louis-Dreyfus for the win.  But I'm gonna say sentimentality wins the day, and they give the award to Fey by a nose over her buddy Poehler.  I'm sure they both appreciate my comparing the two of them to horses.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus deserves to win every year she's nominated for this role.

As for the Supporting and Guest categories...

Adam Driver - Adam on Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Mitchell on Modern Family
Ed O'Neill - Jay on Modern Family
Ty Burrell - Phil on Modern Family
Bill Hader - SNL
Tony Hale - Gary on Veep

Interesting NOT to see Eric Stonestreet in the mix this year for Modern Family, though locking down three nominations in the category is more than enough. If there's one category I think Mod-Fam will continue its reign, it's this one. Burrell may often be the MVP on this series, but this is Ed O'Neill's first nomination EVER. I think it will be his first win as well.

Jane Krakowski - Jenna on 30 Rock
Jane Lynch - Sue on Glee
Sofia Vergara - Gloria on Modern Family
Julie Bowen - Claire on Modern Family
Merritt Weaver - Zoey on Nurse Jackie
Mayim Bialik - Amy on The Big Bang Theory
Anna Chlumsky - Amy on Veep

Outside of the previous category, I still contend that this will be the year that Modern Family stumbles. While I'd love to see Weaver nab a win, and Chlumsky wasn't exactly a slouch either, I genuinely think it's going to be Mayim Bialik. She's "blossomed" from a child actress to one of the strongest characters of the world's most popular sitcom.

And yes, I deserve to be forced to wear the ugliest hat imaginable for that Blossom reference.

Will Forte - Paul on 30 Rock
Nathan Lane - Pepper on Modern Family
Bobby Cannavale - Cruz on Nurse Jackie
Louis C.K. - host on SNL
Justin Timberlake - host on SNL
Bob Newhart - Arthur on The Big Bang Theory

I think it comes down to the SNL hosts and Newhart.  Louis C.K. will be racking up wins for his own show, and Timberlake has already won this very same award TWICE before (in 2009 & 2011). So I think the all time classic comedy icon wins the gold. Way to go, Bob!

Elaine Stritch - Colleen on 30 Rock
Molly Shannon - Eileen on Enlightened
Dot-Marie Jones - Shannon on Glee
Melissa Leo - Laurie on Louie
Melissa McCarthy - host on SNL
Kristen Wiig - host on SNL

McCarthy wins for being the best female host of SNL since...since...wow, there really hasn't been all that many memorable women to host SNL. Tina Fey maybe?  Emma Stone?  Maybe go all the way back to Candice Bergen?  Now I definitely think McCarthy wins here.

Hale, Weaver, Newhart & McCarthy would all be basking in Emmy glory.

From the least important categories to the most....drumroll please!

30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

Arrested Development did NOT secure a nomination here? Perhaps some voters didn't care for the "You Need to Watch Them ALL to Get those Jokes" format? Girls got too much flak to win this year; I think 30 Rock's win will be in the Actress category for the show's writer/creator Tina Fey, and I just don't foresee The Big Bang Theory winning (although the reaction from the Big Bang Haters would almost such a win worth it).

It comes down to the final three on the list.  Unless I'm mistaken, Modern Family has won this award every year since the dawn of time, but it feels like it's time for a changing of the guard. I say it comes down to Louie and Veep. Even with all the cursing and adult themes, Veep still might be the safer choice compared to the downright avant-garde approach Louie C.K. takes with his show.  

But...I have a vision of Louis C.K. with an embarrassed and perturbed look on his face as he juggles multiple awards on his lap, including this one.



Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men

The most talked about episode of any TV series here is undoubtedly the "Red Wedding" episode from Game of Thrones. And that episode is about as good a reason as any why Game of Thrones will NOT win the award. Geysers of blood don't typically go with Emmy awards unless it's on the Beach at Normandy.

Downton Abbey had a bit of a body count as well this season, but it felt even more like a highbrow soap opera this past season than ever before (if that's possible). 

Homeland simply wasn't as strong in its sophomore season, and a show that felt so gritty, real and intense began a descent into the both mildly and then wildly implausible.

Breaking Bad may need to wait until it's ALL over to finally collect the hardware for Best Drama, because despite how good those eight episodes were -- they still only delivered half a season.

Mad Men clocked in with a solid sixth season, but the numerous wins in the past feel like baggage it may not be able to overcome.  The real battle is shaping up to be in 2014 -- when Mad Men & Breaking Bad go head-to-head in their final shots at Emmy glory.

That leaves the new kid on the block: House of Cards. The House takes it not just for the actual quality and pedigree of the series, but also as a further acknowledgement of how TV viewing has dramatically changed. Remember just a few years ago, when industry people were wringing their hands due to the fact that almost all the nominations were going to cable networks?
Welcome to the Internet, bitches.


Breaking Bad by a few of Cranston's whiskers over Mad Men & House of Cards.

To peruse the full list of the nominees, learn to use Google.  Or copy & paste this:


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman Presents: "The Defense Never Rests" (Sneak Preview)

Saul Goodman here. You might remember me from my numerous high quality late night commercials. Or maybe I've lit up your life with one of my matchbooks.  Who knows, perhaps you've even sat on my face while waiting for the local bus! And you know if I'm your lawyer, I'll never tell!

Living under the threat of imminent death out here in New Mexico, I've been taking a gander at what the kids are up to nowadays. The children ARE our future, after all. Speaking of which, if you think little Johnny's not getting the attention he needs at school, maybe you...


A million dollars later, even if your brat's failing at reading and writing, you'll still be getting straight A's for arithmetic for adding all those zeroes to your bank account!

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the kids. Technology, after King Kong and Sofia Vegara's bosoms, it's truly the eleventh wonder of the world. What with the all pods and pads and so on. I've learned that people don't talk anymore. They text, they tumble and they tweet. To quote my good friend Mister T, it's all jibber jabber to me, but when I had my crack investigative team probe further, we discovered...the blogosphere.

It was like Jules Verne woke up with a raging hard-on with James Cameron pinching his nipples and Albert Einstein pissing out the window.  It was a universe more colorful and wild than my bedroom closet. And I knew it was a new world ripe for a renaissance man like myself to explore.  Just call me Vasco de Goodman!

So I made a deal with this Esoteric Candy character.  Turns out Mister Wacky Sweet Stuff has been down on his luck, which makes him the perfect pigeon--excuse me, I mean the ideal client for me. Easy as a ten dollar whore, I tossed him a few Groupons for a local Thai Massage Parlor where they're usually twenty (both dollars and years old).  In return, I get to rent out this space for the next few weeks.

And just what does your old buddy Saul got cooking up for you? A Five Part Series, that's what!  Drumroll and flourish of trumpets please:

Saul Goodman Presents 

Each blog-isode, I'll be taking up the cause of one of the following five individuals:
Marie Schrader, Hank Schrader, Skyler White, Jesse Pinkman and Walter H. White.  

I'll be pleading their case to YOU, the general public, because THAT's how you win trials!

So stay tuned to this space for future installments.  And don't forget, if you're having problems subscribing to this blog, or your computer's on the fritz, or even if those sausage links you call fingers are too thick for the teeny tiny buttons, that doesn't mean you should call some pencil necked geek...

...you just BETTER CALL SAUL!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Like many fellow fans of BREAKING BAD, I'm currently engaged in a major re-watch, savoring each of the first 54 episodes in anticipation of the final eight.

Hmmm..."fellow fans"...I wonder if there's some common nickname for us? Like Trekkies (please, with the Trekkers -- give it a rest) or Losties? Baddies makes us sound like low-grade criminals. White-Heads has the obvious acne connotation (and too many have abandoned the Walter White camp to be comfortable with such a monicker, which will be an upcoming topic).  Bad Breakers sounds positively ridiculous (even after I've trademarked it). Any decent suggestions may not merit a bag of Blue, but at least you'll be mentioned in a future blog.

I actually recapped & reviewed episodes 47 through 54 last year in my Facebook Notes section, which is essentially the less motivated and more stupid man's blog. I considered reposting them HERE, but chances are most who would read them already have. But I will write up the final slate of episodes here, as that's textbook blogging, yo. I can guarantee there will be more than just eight future blogs devoted to what is poised to become my all-time favorite television series.

But why am I furiously tapping away on my iPhone this July Fourth morning? Because I just finished my re-watch of the tenth episode from the magnificent Season Three: FLY.

First of all, anyone who's even tangentially connected to the field of writing or at the very least can appreciate the difficulty and potential of the art form -- is left stunned after FLY. It's as worthy of praise as any great form of literature, and I can think of very few things ever seen on television that are even in the same ballpark (single episodes of HOMICIDE, ALL IN THE FAMILY, MAD MEN and THE SOPRANOS come to mind...and maybe even a MAGNUM P.I., believe it or not). The 47 minutes unfold as if it were a classic stage play. The fly may as well be Godot, an elusive real estate lead or some Shakespearean McGuffin.

Secondly, there's the occasional joke folks make when watching a specific episode of shows like HOMELAND or MAD MEN, when we say "there's their Emmy moment".  Well, Cranston takes them ALL to school in his tour de force performance. His monologue about "the perfect moment" is what major award wins are built upon..."the stuff dreams are made of". I'm almost tempted to go back to see who won the Oscar for Best Lead Actor in a Motion Picture, because assuming it wasn't Daniel Day-Lewis, I bet Bryan Cranston smoked that thespian as well. MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE seems so very far away and long ago after watching FLY.

Finally, if this had aired for the first time, and I had just read or heard of any negative reaction to the episode, I would have responded quite clearly: stop watching the show

Seriously, go watch something else. If you cannot appreciate the depths that are plumbed in terms of character, that after 30 episodes the creators were still able to expand, expound and explain so much more about Walter White, then to be brutally honest, then this really isn't the show for you. You may not require a Masters Degree to watch BREAKING BAD, but you should have some "degree" of sophistication and intelligence.  And if that sounds harsh, keep in mind the sentence originally was supposed to read "but you shouldn't be an idiot either".