The Sound of Breaking Bad

everybody knows the story of Walter White and how he turned into Heisenberg. Everybody loves Bryan Craston and Aaron Paul. Almost everybody loves its scenes, whether it is a close-up or a wide shot. Some of them understand that famous color theory, but the question is: who appreciates the sound of Breaking Bad?

This Golden Age of Television has a common denominator. There is hardly music. From The Sopranos to True Detective, music almost has disappeared. Before this age, most (hour-long) shows used to average about 38-42 minutes of music, and on Breaking Bad we are down to 10-12 minutes, so sound carries practically the whole weight. On The Wire there is no music, by the way.

Other shows like Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire are very rich in sound environments with horses, swords, cars or guns, while Breaking Bad plays in another league: smaller, more intimate. Its success consists in being minimalist. The best example is the living room of The White’s house. Everytime we are there, we hear a clock. I should ask: has anyone seen it?

One example of this minimalist but intentioned use of the sound takes places (SPOILER) on season 5, where Mike has no time to say goodbye to his granddaughter. Although he is quite far away from her, the only thing we hear is the swing where she’s playing. Thanks to the sound we’re aware of Mike’s feelings. (END SPOILER)

I also want to highlight that all the close-ups go with a loud sound effect (the most famous is, of course, Hector Salamanca’s bell) as well as the sound of the charasteristic time lapse of the show.

Take a look (and listen) at this video where all these features come out.