Breaking Bad Pioneers Person-Figuring-Things-Out Montage Without Use of Tacks and String

These men have jobs pretending to be shooty drug criminals. PHOTO: Thomas Attila Lewis

TELEVISION–Popular drug crime television show Breaking Bad broke ground last night by depicting a character piecing bits of information together without the use of a bulletin board, thumbtacks, or string. The show used to be about a chemistry teacher making some poor life choices, but is now about a career criminal who forces his victims to repeat his nickname “Heisenburp.”

In the scene in question, a character is putting together many disparate pieces of information, which would normally require the show to use photographs thumbtacked to a bulletin board. Bits of string would then be tied around the thumbtacks, and finally knotted around thumbtacks in other, nearby photos to underscore the idea that bits of information are being joined.

“It is television best practice to treat viewers as if they are monumentally stupid,” said television historian Gil Vincent. “What Breaking Bad has done is assume that a viewer can figure out that a character is figuring something out without beating the point to absurd levels.”

Vincent then gestured toward a bulletin board in his office with a few bits of paper joined by colored string. Reporters noted that one read “reporters,” which was circled a few times in red marker. Someone had scrawled “asking too many questions,” hastily in the same red marker.