33 Episodes in 3 Days

Friday, July 13, 2012

Transcript

Bob watched the first three seasons of Breaking Bad (33 episodes) in three days. Season Five starts this Sunday. (Will Bob finish season 4 in time?) Finally able to turn away from the TV, Bob speaks with Slate's Jim Pagels who says he's cheating himself by watching that many episodes that quickly. 

Guests:

Jim Pagels

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [9]

Jack Jackson from Central Jersey

Well, if you are just trying to fill yourself in on the canon than I guess binging on 13 episodes straight is no biggie...but there's no way that you are giving the writing, acting or production the attention that it is due. There is just no way that you can pay close enough attention to that many episodes in a row! It's just not possible. What you've done is reduce an entire season to a highlight reel. Would you rather watch the World Series live or catch a the game highlight at 11?

Better for your synapses and your relationship with the rest of us earthlings for you to take a breather and move away from the tube/screen/download and give each episode some time to breathe.

Jul. 16 2012 11:45 AM
Steve from Indianapolis, IN

Not having cable, I, too, caught up on BB 1-3 via Netflix - though I spaced it out over a couple of weeks. Season 4 came out yesterday, and I finished episode 13 a little after midnight.

I empathize with both sides of this debate. I packed a whole lot of crisis and drama into a single day without leaving the house. Not only was there no gestation time for the events and issues of each episode, but I had no real-life experience to leaven out each hourly dose of scripted insanity. However, as each episode ended, with nothing but more Sunday (and no sports but the John Deere Classic) in front of me, I just kept hitting "next episode."

This is what I have always wanted to do with other TV series. If I had had the option thirty years ago, I would have hit "next episode" until my eyes bled. It was the broadcasting schedule (and my parents) that saved me from myself. Now, having neither to govern my watching habits, I feel I am doomed to repeat this vicious cycle with BB and other series until I am dead or blind.

Jul. 16 2012 10:46 AM
Alex Klein from Palo Alto, CA

Im sorry if I'm not a hipster know it all who thinks that television can only be savored one episode a week, but give me a break. Have you ever watched television one epispode at a week? I cannot think of a more difficult experience than trying to stay intereted in a show when I have to wait a week between episodes. I will point out too that most of the television I have watched has not left me detached from the characters or plot, despite watching it quickly. Watching the first three seasons of breaking bad on netflix has been joyous and allowed me to perfectly understand the characters and enjoy the show in my own way. Is it your way? No, and I would guess you have written your little pithy bit on television watching to reassure yourself that you are indeed so much better than everyone else, however I would say that if you require such delay to understand the characters that you're too dim witted to understand them in the first place and need time to read other peoples reactions on Facebook. Do us all a favor and stop telling us how to watch television; it's supposed to be fun, not something with more rules!!!

Jul. 16 2012 03:02 AM
RDVG

Just started watching the new series premier and honestly I'd rather binge commercial free than sit through this commercial fest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jul. 15 2012 10:09 PM
fran

I too just binged on Breaking Bad. I watched all four seasons within 2 weeks because I wanted to catch up before the start of season 5. And I am also a "Boomer", but I agree with Jim Pagels (maybe not for the same reason though). This is not the way I would have chosen to watch a series. What I missed I think is the anticipation that builds when you can't wait to see what happens next. I guess I'll have that opportunity with the last season.

Jul. 15 2012 07:43 PM
Alisa

I don't encounter many snarky pompous college students these days...thanks for the memory. Most college age folks that I know are inclusive in their outlook with "us old codgers". I am a child of a television addict and watched so too many hours of TV. Lots of once per week programs....and when PBS did those Anne of Green Gables marathons, I was there, too. I now have no cable TV; only netflix through streaming. I am a compulsive binge watcher. The presumption that binge watching lessens one's emotional connection is absolute bunk. I can recall the last episode of MASH (that I watched one episode at a time) and the last episode of Six Feet Under (that I watched on a major binge) and both make me cry to this day. Binge watching propels one, in relative "real" time, in to character's experiences. Perhaps this young whipper snapper just hasn't been around the sun enough times to realize that there is more than one way to peel an orange.

Jul. 15 2012 05:16 PM
Jim from New York

One point not addressed is the creator's intention. TV shows are not broken into segments because the writer/director feels you need breaks to process the show and will therefore get more out of it. Rather, the show is broken into segments so that viewers will come back after one episode to see the following one, and (and this is the point) watch the advertisements a second time, thereby allowing the show to gather advertising income each week instead of one time. The root cause is not creative, it's financial.

The same was true of Dickens serializing his novels - it helped sell papers/magazines repeatedly, as opposed to the one-shot sale of a novel. For that matter, it assured that Mr. Dickens would see at least some of the profits; pirated,complete copies of the novels couldn't be published until the serialization was complete.

It also strikes me that this "golden age" of TV writing that people have been talking about, with HBO's and Showtimes programs, etc. earning high praise when TV had for a long time been considered a wasteland, emerged only once it became easier for viewers to watch episodes repeatedly or in long blocks via DVD sets, streaming, etc.

Jul. 15 2012 04:22 PM

You missed the real reason not to binge-watch. Most shows don't stand up to that kind of scrutiny, nor are they written for it. 10 episodes in a row spotlight all the writing and directing inconsistencies, character manipulation and acting weaknesses that you can miss or overlook in smaller doses diluted over a week. After 4-5 episodes, it becomes clear that characters are incidental to the story lines, which themselves lack continuity, and follow obvious plot formulas. Only The West Wing held up to mullti-season cramming thanks to unusually masterful timing, finely-tuned writing and expert acting. But after 5 seasons, its characters began changing randomly and fundamentally to fit a guest writer's or director's vision for dramatic content rather than character and long-term plot development.

Jul. 15 2012 11:46 AM
Todd

Good generational interview...thx

Jul. 15 2012 03:48 AM

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