The lure of the DVD Box Set – Part 1

It’s late; I’m usually in bed by this time. I look at myself in the mirror: my eyes are bleary and I feel like a zombie. What’s happened to me?

I have just spent another evening in front of the TV with my husband watching the last episodes of a quality TV series, the series Breaking Bad*.

How many episodes did it take for me to become like this, you might ask.

Three episodes, one after the other. I have just spent three hours straight watching television – this might not seem a lot to some but it was enough for me. I don’t mean for this to sound like a complaint and that the series wasn’t interesting; on the contrary, we were completely absorbed watching it.

Television as art

The series Breaking Bad is an example of what is called today ‘quality television’ (surprisingly, no longer an oxymoron), or television as art. These types of productions are attributed to the cable television networks, such as HBO which were responsible for the first such nominated series, The Sopranos*, televised between 1999 and 2007.1

The term ‘art’ is used to describe them because, according to Kristin Thompson, an expert in American cinema, “some of these television series exhibit traits also found in art films, such as psychological realism, narrative complexity, and ambiguous plotlines”2.

The phenomenon of the DVD Box Set

“The best series make you think.”

These series are characterised by complex plot lines that last over a number of episodes and complex characterisations; often the main character is seriously flawed. The best series are intelligent, challenge your perceptions and make you think.

The intelligence, complexity and development of the story and the character representations can give the viewer “at least as satisfying an experience as reading a decent novel” according to Jane Sullivan3, who has immersed herself in the exceptional Danish drama, Borgen*.

For example, Walter White, the ‘hero’ (or anti-hero?) of the series Breaking Bad, has noble intentions when deciding to enter the drug world. In the beginning, he reminds himself why he is making the choices he makes (for his family’s benefit) and he tries to do the right thing even when he is breaking the law.

As time passes, however, his new life seduces him; he finds himself capable of doing whatever it takes (no longer Mr Nice Guy) to keep himself and his family safe. At the same time he is still driven by his best intentions, or so he believes. Not very straightforward, is it?

The story kept us hooked over the six seasons of the series (62 episodes in total). Latecomers to Breaking Bad, we watched the entire series over two months.

And this is the phenomenon of the DVD Box Set: you buy the complete series on DVD and watch multiple episodes at a time – at the expense of a good night’s sleep!

In Part 2 see how a DVD Box Set might just be able to save your marriage.

* You can find below a summary (sourced from IMDb) of the series mentioned in this article. While many are from the US cable channels, there are more and more coming from the UK, France and Denmark, for example.

Breaking Bad (2008–2013) – To provide for his family’s future after he is diagnosed with lung cancer, a chemistry genius turned high school teacher teams up with an ex-student to cook and sell the world’s purest crystal meth.

The Sopranos (1999–2007) – Modern day morality tale about New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, as he deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life.

Borgen (2010– ) – A political drama about a prime minister’s rise to power, and how power changes a prime minister.

Which are your favourite series? What is the most number of episodes you have watched in one sitting? Let me know in the comments below.

This article first appeared in French on the Language Pairs website.

1 ‘Quality Television’, wikipedia (viewed 13/02/14)
2 ‘Quality Television’, wikipedia (viewed 13/02/14)
3 ‘Reading Matters’, Jane Sullivan, Life & Style, The Saturday Age, 1 February 2014, p28

Image credits:
Breaking Bad  Breaking-Bad-HD-Poster-Download-Free-1080p.jpg source –

The Sopranos – 7428-3-the_sopranos_-_8.jpg source –

Borgen – NN_slider_images_borgen.jpg source –

Featured Image – montage of these images




2 thoughts on “The lure of the DVD Box Set – Part 1

  1. ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ – Over 40 episodes. Was absolutely hooked. Would watch one episode a night just before going to bed as so sweet and gentle and something gorgeous to sleep/reflect upon. But I must admit a couple of sittings were half a day…..glued. Oh, and I miss it! x

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