You can find recaps of a show like Breaking Bad just about anywhere on the Internet (wait, you don’t read Sepinwall yet?!?). So, instead, here are a few quick ideas for related coverage that some enterprising Buzzfeed-esque writers can dive into.
Restaurant on TV profiles
How is this not a successful Tumblr or reoccurring Eater feature yet? (Though to be fair to Eater, there is no Eater Albuquerque yet I suppose.) So many of pop culture’s great eaters actually do their dining in real-life establishments. And while everyone may know the story behind, say, Tom’s Restaurant/Monk’s Cafe from Seinfeld, Garduño’s from Breaking Bad is a much lesser known commodity.
Originally, Vince Gilligan and crew were settled on an unnamed national chain (see the discussion near the 45m mark of the Breaking Bad podcast’s 511 episode):
“The idea of a national chain, we were going to pay to shoot it, this wasn’t tit for tat product placement. But as writers, we always like the idea of shooting in real places. It helps ground the show in reality because you’re seeing these characters on TV—that everyone behind the camera does their best to make seem real—and you see them in a setting you have visited in your own life. It just seemed funny to have a chain we’ve eaten at one point or another as the setting for this tense as hell scene.”
Breaking Bad has used Denny’s previously but, sadly, the Schraders and Whites weren’t met to showdown at Applebees or TGI Fridays. That was the original intention, but Gilligan admitted “some fuckery was involved, a couple dicked out on us in the last minute.” Well, when brand-hyper conscious chains hand you lemons, make local color lemonade. Enter Garduño’s.
“We wanted something that was familiar and accessible for everybody, something cheery and upbeat,” Melissa Bernstein, executive producer, said in the episode. “We actually thought the national changes, the way they’ve changed, they all look a little generic now. And the thing about Garduño’s is… talk about flair. It’s so full of fun and flair and color.”
Garduño’s is an Albuquerque-area specific chain of taquerias (editor’s note: sadly, I never made it to one while in Albuquerque in 2007). As a place pushing the easy, feel-good atmosphere, it makes the perfect comedic contrast and location for the scene in question (no spoilers here, but you can hear the local news describe it). And—as people involved with TV show research tend to do—the staff spent some time there ahead of shooting to get a more accurate sense of it. Gilligan said the spot was great and had better food than the chains anyway. The actress who plays Marie mentioned you get a sombrero on your birthday.
“Jenny (Carroll, script coordinator) catered the dialogue to the setting,” Bernstein said. “She went there, talked to the waiters and asked what they’d push. She thought the table side guac was a really funny addition—and it’s what they served.”
Garduño’s co-owner Tug Herig talked to the Albuquerque Journal about his place’s four minutes of fame. Herig didn’t disclose how much production paid, but he insisted he participated more for the exposure and to give back to a show that’s helped put Albuquerque on the map. And unlike the scared chain owners, Herig was able to negotiate a stipulation that prevented murders or explicit drug use in the scene without a hassle. Seems like the owner’s only regret was Trent the waiter couldn’t sell the signature appetizer.
“I wish they would’ve had our (guacamole) cart right there, but they (the characters) didn’t order it,” he told the paper.
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Actually, this is a terrible idea for alternative coverage. And at any rate, someone beat everyone else to the punch.