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Primal Screen

Season 5 of 'Breaking Bad' delivers the monster inside

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad (9pm Sun, AMC)
I hope you’re not letting the Olympics distract you from Breaking Bad’s final season. This is TV history in the making, folks. The series is a profound investigation of corruption — the corruption of a single man’s soul. And the new episodes suggest that Breaking Bad will work out its morality play with brutal integrity. If you want happy endings, maybe you should switch back to the Olympics.

Walt White (Bryan Cranston) initially had his justifications for becoming a New Mexico meth dealer. He was terminally ill and, as a low-paid high school teacher, needed money to leave to his family. In Season 5 (divided in two eight-episode mini-runs), though, justifications are in short supply. Like Macbeth, Walt is drunk with power. He’s obsessed with becoming the king — or, in modern parlance, the drug kingpin. Walt’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), and kids are still around to remind us of his humanity, but his connection to them grows ever more remote. The long silences at home crackle with tension, forcing Skyler to say, “I’m scared of you.”

Breaking Bad should scare all of us as we contemplate the monster lurking inside an ordinary human being.

London 2012 Olympics (Through Aug. 12, NBC)
We’ve spent the last week watching nonstop diving, gymnastics, and swimming. We’re exhausted, but we have to keep up our strength somehow. This week’s Olympics coverage includes must-see medal events in basketball, soccer, and track. Mercifully, the schedule also features competitions that only a few people care about — water polo, badminton, handball — so the rest of us can take a much-needed nap.

I never thought I’d say this, but God bless badminton.

Beverly Hills Nannies (8pm Wed, ABC Family)
Reality TV has gotten us used to seeing Beverly Hills from the wealthy people’s perspective. By contrast, this new series offers the POV of nannies who make $20-$40 an hour caring for the wealthy people’s spoiled children. You might expect these young women (and a few men) to be more appealing than the Real Housewives and their filthy-rich peers. But no, they’re just as off-putting, even without the breast implants and sports cars. They spend most episodes bitching about their employers and their pay. They brag about themselves and make fun of others.

I ’m not saying Beverly Hills Nannies isn’t a trashy good time. I’d recommend watching it, though I certainly wouldn’t recommend letting these people anywhere near your children.

Episodes (9:30pm Sun, Showtime)
Entourage was the king of recent Hollywood satires, but Episodes has deposed it. In its second season, the half-hour series follows a sane British couple (Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig) who were lured to Tinseltown to translate their sophisticated TV show for an American audience. Sophistication, of course, is the first thing that went out the window, followed by the couple’s sanity. After tampering by the ratings-obsessed network head (John Pankow), they somehow ended up with a show called Pucks!, starring Matt LeBlanc as a high school hockey coach.

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