About a month ago, I was asked to contribute to a super-duper mega-tough, all-encompassing project dedicated to the history of "Breaking Bad." I then had to spend about two weeks rummaging through the series' DVDs, ultimately coming away with a little less than 10,000 words through seven separate pieces (and yes, I will annoy you all with links once the thing gets going next week).
It was interesting to me because "Breaking Bad," as I've written on this particular blog in the past (again — thank you, archive system!), isn't really my favorite show. In fact, it's probably not even in my top 10. The most annoying aspect of the whole thing was having to go buy the fifth season's DVDs so close to the time they were released. Why is that? Because eight episodes ran me a little more than 40 bucks.
Again. FORTY BUCKS!
Anyway, the rekindled romance has inevitably bled over into the upcoming final set of episodes — if I've made it this far in the series, the last thing I would want to happen is for the stuff to be ruined for me. "What are you going to do?" friends have asked me. "There's no way it won't get spoiled for you if you wait."
Well, I could rush to Amazon the day after each episode airs, blow a couple dollars for the right to watch the thing and do my best to keep up with it. I used this approach when we did the incredibly legendary (he says sarcastically) Mad Men Project, and it worked fairly well. The only real problem was how much it hurt my soul to go buy the fifth season's DVDs after I had already paid to own digital copies online. Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a completist.
The other option? Well, as it was reported last week by just about everybody in the world, I could move to Europe. Because not only is that logical, but that's also cost-effective (he again says sarcastically). What say you, July 26 news release?
"Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Sony Pictures Television today announced that the Final Episodes of the critically acclaimed drama, Breaking Bad will be available exclusively to members in the UK and Ireland starting on 12 August. New episodes will be available every Monday — following the US broadcast."
Anyone else bothered that whomever wrote the thing capitalized the words "final" and "episodes"?
Indeed, after forcing me to run out and buy the first half of its final season — the episodes still aren't on Netflix's streaming service — "Breaking Bad" is going to give up the goods to those living overseas a mere day after each 40-some-minute chapter airs stateside. The approach, in short, is great (though it would be awfully greater should it be offered in this country as well). Why not post the episodes this quickly, especially for viewers in other countries, where it takes light years for it all to be sent their way in the first place?
The most recent example of such delayed-viewing atrocities came in the form of "Derek," Ricky Gervais' recent gem that first aired its pilot on Channel 4 across the pond ... in April of 2012. To be fair, the show's first series wasn't presented in its entirely until the beginning of 2013 in Europe, but even so, it won't be until September of this year that it will finally be made available on Americans' Netflix accounts. That's a year and a half since its pilot aired and nine months since it began its initial run. I mean, what's next? Texting through Morse Code.
My only hope, of course, is that some shows will be willing to utilize the same practice stateside ("The Killing" is currently using this same gimmick, also leaving us Yankees without a quick turnaround). The Internet is where all this content is heading, anyway. Why not expedite the process by at least dipping a few toes into the streaming-TV pond now? People are going to find ways to access the episodes, no matter what — torrents, overseas streams, etc. — so why don't you just stop pretending that the whole streaming-TV-shows-online thing doesn't already exist en masse and partner with a legitimate company to help bring your work to its fans more quickly? In theory, this should be a win-win for everyone, all around.
Besides: The more you resist this, network executives, the more out-of touch you appear. There has already been enough evolution in the medium to prove that Internet television is here to stay (cough, Emmy, cough), so why not just embrace the transition? Here's an idea: Cut a deal with Netflix, make your American fans happy, and save me 40 bucks the next time. How's that sound? Good? Good.
For those still wondering how The Greatest Supporting Actor In The History Of Television, Aaron Paul, will play out his final days as The Greatest Non-Main-Character In The History Of Television, Jesse Pinkman, "Breaking Bad" will kick off the final half of its final run Aug. 11. As you'll see if you read the statement, Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos called the series a "once in a generation calibre of show." That in mind, I will now go bang my head against a brick wall until lunchtime (he does not say sarcastically).