92. Breaking Bad (and HSQ)

Ladies and gentlemen, today I will introduce to you the term called HSQ.

(for the kids: avert your eyes, close this window, and go stalk your crush on facebook or something)

HSQ is essential. It’s like the protein of entertainment – even the blandest of them (the vegan ones, if I may) need a little bit of HSQ to get it going. HSQ is what keeps your show breathing; it’s what keeps people hooked to what you’re trying to tell them. At the heart of every work of art should be some degree of HSQ.

What is HSQ? I shall borrow the eloquent words of TvTropes for this:

Divide the number of times you said “Holy Shit!” by the number of scenes. This is the Holy Shit Quotient (or HSQ) for a given episode.

I’ve just begun watching Breaking Bad, and given that the standard hour-long TV drama episode has about 40 scenes, Breaking Bad has a HSQ rating of 0.1 per episode, and this number is escalating fast as the series progresses into the second season.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like it. Most TV series I’ve had the delight of following usually have a certain cycle to the way they are run: they start off with an amazingly good first season, and the quality usually peaks in the second season before plateauing in the third – by the fourth, the show would have changed so much from what I knew it to be, and it’s usually here that I stop watching it altogether.

With Breaking Bad, however – I’m nearing the end of the second season now, and the story sounds like it’s just getting started.

I’ve begun watching the show for a number of reasons:

ONE: After a simple look-up on wikipedia, I found that the series is the highest-rated TV series in the history of TV, with a metacritic score of 99% and a record of 10.3 million viewers upon the finale of the series.

TWO: My attention was drawn to the fact that the third-to-last episode, titled Ozymandias (which is already awesome in its own right), has a perfect 10-score in IMDB. I’ve never heard of anything that scored a perfect 10 – and there it is.

THREE: Sir Anthony Hopkins’ letter to Bryan Cranston, and the cast and crew of the series. In the letter, he called the series “the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen” and “best acting I’ve ever seen” – and all of this is coming from Mr. Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins!

There was something big going on here, and I wanted to watch the series before people begin publicly spoiling important plot points. Hell, just knowing that the series went on for 6 seasons is a spoiler in itself, but I can live with that.

I planned to watch the series only when 2014 rolls around – after I have completed my university education, written 2 feature film scripts, and sent off 2 novel-length manuscripts for publication. This plan went down the drain as soon as I began watching the first episode. The number of times I’ve said “Holy Shit!” during the show is rival only to Inception and The Dark Knight – and that’s no real comparison, because they’re feature films, not TV episodes.

As I struggle against the temptation of watching yet another episode (because I have a 15-page report to write and submit by 11A.M. tomorrow), there is only one thing left to be said to the creator of the series, Mr. Gilligan:

Holy shit, Vince. You’ve outdone us all.

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