Breaking Bad

Engrossing take on the mid-life crisis drama. Bryan Cranston is a revelation as the high school science teacher who's taken a dive off the deep end after being diagnosed with lung cancer, setting up a meth lab out in the desert with one of his drop-out pupils. 

Always thought he was pretty great in Malcolm In The Middle (one of the most underrated sitcoms of the last ten years) - here, he proves he's capable of real dramatic depth too, with a totally convincing performance. It's one of those rare shows that contains moments of silence, at times simply content to let you read his face to understand the range of turmoil he's dealing with. It's also an exercise in transformation. As the cancer takes hold, and he get deeper and deeper into the underbelly of American drug culture to pay off his mounting medical bills, and leave something for his family, you see a surprising sense of empowerment float over him as he realises he has less and less to lose.

If you're a MITM fan, it's hard not to hang out waiting for a joke to come - and there is humour here, but it's pretty dark stuff - acid burning through floors, home-brewed explosives disguised as drugs, short-fused gangsters flipping out at the slightest provocation, meth-fuelled paranoid tweaking behind suburban curtains etc. The first season only runs to seven episodes too - easy to commit to, but you'll miss it when it's over. Roll on S2.