PICKIN' ON FILM: 'Breaking Bad' binge watching made finale not so bad

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“Breaking Bad” recently ended its five-season run and has been rated all over the Internet as the greatest TV show of the past decade, if not all time.

Over the holidays, I commandeered my father’s DVR to record its honestly grueling marathon on the AMC Channel.

I had already watched the first three seasons, but I wanted him to be able to see the show from start to end.

As a result, Dad was forced to watch it constantly so that he could make sure the DVR had space for the future episodes.

I came home from out of town to find that he’d been doing some serious screening and was happily hooked, so we sat down and participated in a serious binge watching of the show over a six-day period that capped six hours a day.

Binge watching is the modern phenomena of being able to watch an entire TV series in a matter of days as compared to the not-too-distant past when it took years to watch every episode of a show.

With “Breaking Bad” and more than enough good reasons, my mother thought the two of us had permanently moved into the basement of our home.

It was amazing because we had a silent schedule for our watching. I would wake up embarrassingly late, wait for him to come downstairs, and then we would watch the show straight through until he went upstairs to bed.

It’s no surprise that “Breaking Bad” is cited as the champion of the binge watching game.

It is intense, darkly funny and brilliantly written and acted. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire way through while being blown away with the never-ending stream of macabre twists and turns. It also happens to be part of our eventual reliance on streaming over traditional cable.

The only problem I had with the show was that I was not that blown away by the way it ended.

In an excellent article for Slate Magazine, Jim Pagels outlined his reasons why binge watching is bad for viewers, with strong points arising from a lack of respect for a single episode’s integrity to the ideal that a good cliffhanger and the ensuing suspense is something we should all revel in, no matter what torture we might experience while waiting for the next episode.

I can remember my parents religiously watching “Dallas,” my sisters loving “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” and I have had an affinity for the “The Office” since its American version first aired.

Each one of those shows ended after at least eight seasons, and anyone who watched them religiously spent those years hungrily waiting for the next episode  – lest of course they came to an end and it was time to judge all of those shows on the final episode of the series, upon which they would all be crucified by their loyal fans.

“Breaking Bad” lasted a short five seasons, not unlike its other counterpart in the greatest TV show ever category, HBO’s “The Wire.”

If you’ve been waiting to scream at this screen or piece of newsprint for me to say why the finale didn’t blow me away, let me explain.

The show, from its first episode to tumultuous and satisfying last, was literally perfect. I can’t give you a minute that Dad and I spent in the basement over those days that we thought was a waste of time.

The key issue in binge watching is that anyone is going to feel betrayed with a finale when they have spent years investing their time and emotions in something that constantly wrenches their gut.

However, if you have an entire series at your fingertips, you are less likely to be upset by how the it ends.

I’ll happily binge watch anything up to its finale because I can remember more things about the show in close context. I get to focus on something that I really enjoy doing for six hours on a lazy Saturday, and I also know that I can have a feeling of completion once I’ve gotten through the entire show.

When you have those factors checked off, you aren’t going to be blown away about a show’s finale. Instead, you’ll be perfectly satisfied by it.

Tagged under  Breaking Bad, Entertainment, Media History, Pickin On Film

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