Monday, 5 November 2012

For the love of Walter!

I felt inspired today, to show a little appreciation for the wonderful Walters that make my world go round.

One of them is an Emmy magnet. One of them has traveled between universes. One of them changed literature forever.

Two of them are fictional. One of them is very, very real.

All of them are awesome.

Bryan Cranston (pictured) has wowed audiences as Walter White.

First of all, there's Walter White. It's no secret that Breaking Bad is one of my favourite shows on the box right now. I loved Bryan Cranston on Malcolm in the Middle, but his performance as Walter White is without a doubt a career highlight. Walter is a family man and Chemistry teacher whose life is turned upside down when he discovers he has terminal lung cancer.

In order to save money for his family before his demise, Walter gets into the crystal meth business - and is forced to deal with all the pitfalls that come with an illegal double life.

Breaking Bad is at once heartbreaking and hilarious, a dark and painful character study with a compelling, believable anti-hero whose actions are totally believable. Season Five of Breaking Bad is expected to be its last, so for those who haven't yet seen it, I recommend you check it out now - you won't regret it.

The second television Walter is, in my opinion, one of the most unappreciated on the small screen. John Noble's subtle, humorous performance of mad genius Walter Bishop is near-perfect. Noble stars in Fringe, a sci-fi thriller from the Haus of J.J. Abrams in the vein of the X-Files, where cases of the supernatural are addressed week-to-week.

Noble's (pictured) depiction of Walter Bishop has been tragically overlooked.
Walter Bishop is at once an extraordinary genius and a social outcast. He's estranged from his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) and often seems to exist in an alternate universe from time to time. But by the second season Walter's character had revealed unexpected depths. This culminated in the incredible episode Peter - an hour of TV I won't spoil here, but one that should have earned Noble an Emmy all by itself.

The key to this is that coupled with Walter's genius is his inescapable vulnerability. He is a man whose talents have not prevented him from developing deep regrets about his life. Noble's subtle performance is successful partly because of that balance between comedy and tragedy which is intrinsic to our connection with the character. 

And then there's the non-fictitious but simply brilliant Walter Mosley. If you like your crime novels hard-boiled and in the style of Philip Marlowe, you should already be well acquainted with his prolific output of critically acclaimed books. Mosley's writing is permeated with the sights, sounds and smells of Los Angeles, and he provides an intimate exploration of the racial tensions and societal injustices lurking on every street corner in 1950s America.

He is best known for his series of Easy Rawlins novels - beginning with The Devil in the Blue Dress (adapted into a successful film starring Oscar-winner Denzel Washington) but has written other fictional series, along with works of science fiction and non-fiction - and he's still going strong, with multiple titles due out within the next 12 months. 

So you may be wondering - why have I written this post? 

The stories of all three Walters have one thing in common: they have managed to make me cry as often as they make me laugh. 

It's hard enough to do one of those, but to do both (and so consistently) is a skill so special that I think it warrants me raving about them, just a little bit. I love their stories because they make my chaotic world just a little more bearable. 

In the words of Mosley's protagonist Paris Minton in his novel Fear Itself: 'That's what a good book will do for me. It doesn't make me into a brave man exactly but just erases all vestiges of fear.' 


  1. I want a Walter BIshop all of my own! He's so lovable (when he isn't Walternate or being mean).
    Walter White is, probably, my favourite TV character of the past decade.
    Breaking Bad is simply astonishing.

    1. Walter White should have a Walternate of his own! Someone who isn't suffering from a terrible disease. 'Breaking Bad' is one of the absolute best shows on TV, and one of the main reasons why I bow before the gates of AMC.