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Breaking Bad Makes a Deal for 16 Final Episodes

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The bad news: Breaking Bad is ending. The good news: Breaking Bad is ending (hopefully) on its own terms. After a prolonged and unfortunately public negotiation over its renewal with AMC, the producers of Breaking Bad will get a final run of 16 episodes to conclude the story of Walter White, chemistry-teacher-cum-criminal.

The whole negotiation over Breaking Bad’s ending has been puzzling; AMC reportedly had suggested a shortened season of eight or fewer episodes to end it, although the show’s ratings (as the renewal announcement boasts) are substantially up this season. But I’m glad to hear the news. I can’t know how much longer Breaking Bad needs to tell its story; that call is for Vince Gilligan and company. But it plainly seems like the kind of story that cannot continue on open-ended without implausible twists or simply an endless string of whoops-Walt-almost-got-caught-again storylines, a la Dexter.

It can never be an easy decision to end a show; story aside, it means a lot of people’s jobs. But I trust this show to end well, especially with a certain date and 16 episodes to finish its tale. The announcement after the jump:

New York – NY, August, 14, 2011 – AMC announced today that “Breaking Bad,” the Emmy® Award-winning and critically lauded drama series from acclaimed writer/producer/director Vince Gilligan has been renewed for a 16 episode order that will conclude the series. Production on all episodes of the final order will commence in early 2012. The roll-out of the episodes and premiere date schedule has yet to be determined by the network. The announcement was made by Charlie Collier, president of AMC.

“Breaking Bad’s” fourth season premiered on Sunday, July 18th to the highest ratings ever for the series. Household ratings are 30% stronger than season three and season four is delivering 28% more total viewers and over 45% more adults 18-34 than last season. The series was recognized as “…the most complete and extraordinary show on TV” by Entertainment Weekly while Daily Variety called it “the most addictive show on the air.”

“From the day we heard Vince Gilligan’s completely original vision for ‘Breaking Bad,’ it has been a complete joy to be involved with this show. Watching this story evolve into the complex, compelling, and intense roller coaster ride that it has become has been an incredible creative experience for everyone at AMC. Beyond that, working with Vince, his brilliant cast and crew, and our wonderful partners at Sony has been remarkable in every way. While it is sad to even contemplate the end of this series, we are so happy to have had the chance to go on this ride, and truly look forward to presenting the rest of this amazing story,” said Collier.

“It’s a funny irony — I’d hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I’m delighted to know what Walter White’s will be (episodically speaking). This is a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers. It’s knowledge which will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don’t manage to pull that off, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves,” said Vince Gilligan. “‘Breaking Bad’ has been a dream job these past four years. Working with the best cast and crew in television has no doubt spoiled me for future projects. I’m lucky to get to work with them on sixteen more episodes, and I will always be grateful to both AMC and Sony Television, who from the beginning, believed in our show and supported me creatively and professionally. We have been able to take risks with ‘Breaking Bad’ which would not have been possible on other networks.”

That last bit, by the way, is true, or true enough. For all the heat AMC has taken, there are only so many places Breaking Bad could even have existed (though it was originally shopped to FX). Good on them for giving it enough time to end right.