Breaking Bad: Done

Having just finished watching the final episode of my latest favourite programme, Breaking Bad (several weeks late to the party as per usual), I can report that the season five finale did not disappoint.

But whilst I’m sad to say goodbye to what has truly been eighty hours (eighty hours! Just think of all the useful things I could have been doing! Like writing decent blog posts for a start) of viewing pleasure (and sometimes also pain), I’m also rather glad to be getting my life back.

You see, between working, writing, training for a marathon and planning an imminent holiday there just aren’t enough hours in the day to spare for televisual pursuits. Which is why it’s just as well this particular pursuit has now come to an end – and a good job the next one (season four of Game of Thrones) doesn’t begin until the Spring….

image

Goodbye Walt, I’ll miss you.

Televisual Stimulation

Television addictions: We’ve all had them, right? Whether it’s historical programmes like Downton Abbey, murder mysteries like Broadchurch, supernatural thrillers like The Returned or epic fantasies like Game of Thrones, in the world of television series there really is something for everyone.

My current television addiction is Breaking Bad. As with previous TV obsessions – 24 and Lost being but two examples – I’m somewhat late to the party, only now reaching the final series when everyone else watched it several weeks ago. But irrespective of the timing, it’s true to say that once I’m into a programme it becomes an integral part of my life, and I can’t stop until it’s finished – simple as. That’s why I rarely, if ever, allow myself to watch more than one television series at a time. I learned from the first two series of 24 during my university years that it’s not socially acceptable to hole yourself up in your room for eight hours at a time and miss out on social engagements (most notably good friends’ birthday parties – but shhh, I didn’t admit to that) because you’re so desperate to find out what happens next in the programme you’re watching that real life pales into insignificance.

And yet there’s something deeply satisfying about following a programme you enjoy, watching the characters as they grow and develop and observing the plot as it twists and turns in exciting and hitherto unforeseen directions. It’s much the same as being absorbed in a good book – a form of escapism, entertainment at its best.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got episode eight of the final series to watch…

Happy endings

I was planning on writing a woefully self-indulgent post about feeling old and past it but after returning from running club with endorphins pumping through my ancient veins I’ve had a change of heart – which means that you, dear reader, will be spared (on this occasion at least). Instead, I’d like to discuss the phenomenon of the TV drama – or, to be more specific, the TV drama with no definitive ending.

What do I mean by ‘no definitive ending’? Let me take you back in time…Remember Lost? The first series had everyone rapt. What would happen to the plane crash survivors and just what was the secret of the spooky island that they’d crash landed onto? The second series toyed with our sense of credibility and stretched the boundaries of our imaginations but, like true fans, we stuck with it. Then came the third series, and with it events so random and ridiculous it made it hard to persevere – which is why I didn’t. Soon after I discovered the scriptwriters had no idea how the story was going to end, and suddenly it fell into place why my faith had deserted me faster than the inhabitants of Lost’s fictional island.

So now we’ve got to the crux of the matter: Do even the best TV dramas suffer when the people writing them don’t know where they’re heading any more than the viewers? My instinctive reaction is yes, because I like to be able to place my faith in the writers for a dramatic and exciting conclusion. If they don’t know what that conclusion’s going to be it takes something away from that trust, even if they’re the best scriptwriters in the world.

Another example is the recent French TV drama, The Returned. I watched every episode avidly and was gutted when the series came to an end. When I went online to find out when the second series would air, however, I stumbled across an interview with the scriptwriters who confessed that they, like the writers of Lost, weren’t actually sure what the next series would hold, or how the story would ultimately end. I felt let down, and whilst I will still watch the second series in the hope it will be just as strong as the first, I can’t deny I’ll watch it with a more cynical eye.

It should perhaps then follow that I would feel equally as disappointed to learn that authors of books don’t know how they’re going to end. Only I don’t, because as a writer I know that sometimes even the best planned stories can take crazy and unforeseen turns, with the final outcome a million miles away from the initial concept. So why does it bother me in TV dramas? I just can’t answer that. I just know it does. And it makes makes me feel, well, a bit…

Series hysteria (aka Goodbye old friend)

Tonight I’ve been invited to my best friends’ place to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones (for the second time) and have dinner. But this will not be just any dinner-oh no. This will be a dinner fit for a king-quite literally, since the daft/ingenious pair of them have decided to create a Game of Thrones-themed dinner. One is doing main course, the other dessert. The latter of which, I’ve been reliably informed, will be nothing short of a triumph if it goes to plan, but if it goes wrong – and here I quote aforementioned friend – “I’ll look a bit of a twat.”

We three are not alone in our hysteria for the historical drama that’s taken the country by storm. I myself came to the party rather late, but through sheer diligence and the downloading assistance of my boyfriend (himself watching for the second time) have managed to catch up on all three series in under a month (if only I were that productive in all the other aspects of my life. But I digress).

I’ll admit that TV dramas have taken a back seat in my life in recent years – the last time I got really excited about one was when 24 first came out, when I’m ashamed to admit I failed to attend a friend’s birthday party in order to complete a marathon viewing session of 12 back to back episodes – but if this one’s anything to go by I might just have to make some space in my life to fit them back in.

Why? Because a good TV series is like a good friend-you stay by its side in good times and bad, sharing the highs and commiserating over the lows. You look forward to seeing them and can’t bear the thought of being parted. Which is why the end of a series can feel like a death (especially if-shock, horror, it’s the FINAL series), and can leave you feeling quite bereft. Or, in some people’s cases, feeling inclined to do a spot of historical baking. I shall report back…