There are many, many things to admire about AMC's "Breaking Bad": The performances, the use of silence in creating an atmosphere of tension. But the show also deserves credit for its attention to detail and accuracy in depicting how people behave in the real world.
"Breaking Bad" never makes viewers feel like they are watching scripted TV characters; the characters always feel real, even when engaging in questionably realistic activities, like using a giant magnet to erase a computer hard drive.
That's just one scheme in Sunday's season premiere (10 p.m., AMC). But first the episode begins, as "Breaking Bad" has sometimes done in the past, with an ominous flash forward to Walt (Bryan Cranston), with a full beard and a full head of hair, making some sort of deal on what he says is his 52nd birthday.
After that bit of foreshadowing, "Bad" returns viewers to the aftermath of the end of season four when Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) was killed in an explosion orchestrated by former high school chemistry teacher-turned drug kingpin Walter White.
The "Bad" writers don't let Walt get away with Gus' murder without showing the cleanup necessary; they follow up all the logical threads, including the reaction of Gus' chief lieutenant, Mike (Jonathan Banks).
"You are trouble. You are a time bomb: tick, tick, tick," voice-of-reason Mike says to Walt this season. "And I have no intention of being around for the boom."
Sunday's season premiere also shows the reaction of Walt's wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), and the investigation into Gus' murder led by Walt's brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris).
That investigation has global repercussions in the July 22 episode when viewers learn more about the German parent company that owns Los Pollos Hermanos, the fast food chain methodical Gus used as a front for his drug business. This episode also introduces Lydia (Laura Fraser), a slightly unhinged woman with some sort of relation to Gus, who grows panicked after his death.
Series creator Vince Gilligan wrote the first two episodes of this eight-episode batch, and they crackle, as always, with intelligence and an ever-lingering sense of dread. But that dread created within the show's fictional universe may be no match for how bad "Bad" fans will feel as they count down to the show's conclusion with a final eight episodes next summer.
A version of this review first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: email@example.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook. First Published July 12, 2012 4:00 AM