As Breaking Bad builds to its (nooooooooo!) series finale, we’ve been thinking about what makes it so great. No, scratch that – not just great, but the Best Fucking Television Series of All Time.
Each and every episode for five seasons, science teacher-turned-megalomaniac drug lord Walter White has gotten into a situation so crazy, so scary, so insanely fucking out there that you are (a) convinced he must die right then and there, and (b) in awe of Vince Gilligan for not taking the easy way out by just doing a time dash without explaining just how things worked out OK. (Dexter, anyone?)
Because in Walter White-slash-Heisenberg’s world, things do not work out OK. They get much, much worse.
Unlike other shows, the characters on Breaking Bad are accountable. They do not escape by the miracle of Deus ex Machina, or convenient cut-aways. They act, and they suffer consequences as a result of those actions. Things often happen in real time. When there is a cut-away, it’s from one scene directly to the next logical moment.
Great improv works the same way. Not by glossing over things, but by giving weight and importance to every word, every movement, every choice.
Del Close told improvisers to play like “a raving paranoid onstage. Nothing is taken at face value, nothing is tossed aside.”
If your scene partner yawns, or slurs a word, or calls you “honey,” don’t let it drop. Seize upon that, and milk it for all it’s worth.
“Do the next right thing and the story will take care of itself.” – TJ Jagodowski
P.S. Only five more episodes to go, bitches!