Why Every TV Show Has A Noticeably Boring Episode

June 20, 2019

Whether your favorite television show is Friends or Breaking Bad, every TV show has what is called a bottle episode. But are bottle episodes a good or a bad thing? Cheddar Explains....



FEMALE_1: Breaking Bad when this happened?

FEMALE_1: And this, and even this?

FEMALE_1: And then out of nowhere,

FEMALE_1: the two main characters were just

FEMALE_1: chilling for a whole episode trying to kill a fly?

FEMALE_1: Yeah, I do too.

FEMALE_1: Well, I can agree some terrific acting took place here.

MALE_1: [NOISE] I'm sorry about Jane. [NOISE]

FEMALE_1: And at the end of the day,

FEMALE_1: it's still Breaking Bad.

FEMALE_1: It was kind of boring and

FEMALE_1: the episode was actually the worst rated episode

FEMALE_1: from the entire series by viewers on IIMDb.

FEMALE_1: [NOISE] There might be

FEMALE_1: a reason you notice this across so many series,

FEMALE_1: and that's because of a common tool used frequently by

FEMALE_1: television shows [NOISE] called a bottle episode.

FEMALE_1: [NOISE] Whether you know it or not,

FEMALE_1: if you're an avid TV watcher,

FEMALE_1: [BACKGROUND] then you've watched a bottle episode or two.

FEMALE_1: Not all bottle episodes are synonymous for boring or bad.

FEMALE_1: I mean, some argue that "Seinfeld",

FEMALE_1: The Chinese Restaurant is one of

FEMALE_1: the best episodes from the entire series.

MALE_2: [LAUGHTER] Uh, four, Seinfeld.

MALE_3: Four.

MALE_4: That'll be five.

MALE_3: Ten minutes.

FEMALE_1: The entire episode is spent with George,

FEMALE_1: Elaine and Jerry waiting for

FEMALE_1: a table at a Chinese restaurant,

FEMALE_1: and it was filmed in half the time it

FEMALE_1: takes to film a regular Seinfeld episode.

FEMALE_1: But believe it or not,

FEMALE_1: the bottle episode wasn't met with

FEMALE_1: a warm welcome by NBC executives.

FEMALE_1: They were actually against the idea of

FEMALE_1: keeping an entire episode in one location.

FEMALE_1: But Larry David, the show's creator

FEMALE_1: threatened to quit if the executives

FEMALE_1: tried to change the script,

FEMALE_1: and so we got the first Seinfeld bottle episode.

FEMALE_1: So what is a bottle episode exactly?

FEMALE_1: Like it was done in Seinfeld,

FEMALE_1: it's an episode of television that's confined to

FEMALE_1: one setting without a ton of additional cast members,

FEMALE_1: crazy graphics, or well,

FEMALE_1: anything else that's going to cost the studio money.

FEMALE_1: With bottle episodes, it's the script that's the hero.

FEMALE_1: The dialogue between the actors

FEMALE_1: is what keeps the episode interesting.

MALE_5: I've heard not just my friend.

FEMALE_1: So no. Game of

FEMALE_1: Thrones Battle of Winterfell is not a bottle episode.

FEMALE_1: Bottle episodes that fit this criteria

FEMALE_1: are all over the place.

FEMALE_1: Friends had the one where no one was ready.

FEMALE_1: One location, [NOISE] check.

FEMALE_1: Nothing fancy, [NOISE] check.

FEMALE_1: No Gunther, [NOISE] check.

FEMALE_1: It was just the original cast on the main set.

MALE_6: What are you doing.

MALE_7: We said I had to give you the chain.

MALE_6: You didn't see anything about the cushions.


FEMALE_1: Madmen had the suitcase where Don and Penny stay late

FEMALE_1: at work and go out for dinner and just talk.

PENNY: You never say thank you.

DON: That's what the money is for.

MALE_8: And even animated series of bottle episodes.

MALE_8: Archer stuck everyone in an elevator.

MALE_8: In Family Guy, let Stewie

MALE_8: rant for five and a half minutes

MALE_8: while we spent the entire episode in his therapy session.

STEWIE: I've often been told that I have a British accent.

MALE_9: Oh.

FEMALE 1: Some say community actually perfected the Bottle episode,

FEMALE 1: they went all meta honest and called out

FEMALE 1: inside the episode that it was doing a Bottle episode.

MALE: Well, tell your disappointment to suck it.

MALE: I'm doing a Bottle episode.

FEMALE 1: And Of course, the real reason

FEMALE 1: the Bottle episode got started,

FEMALE 1: was to save money.

FEMALE 1: Scott Brazil, the executive producer of The Shield,

FEMALE 1: describes bottle episodes as the ''sad little stepchild''

FEMALE 1: whose allowance is docked in order to

FEMALE 1: buy big brother a new pair of sneaks.

FEMALE 1: Basically, Bottle episodes are

FEMALE 1: put into place either because

FEMALE 1: the show just blew a huge percentage

FEMALE 1: of their budget on lofty sets,

FEMALE 1: big stars, and large special effects or they're about to.

FEMALE 1: This leaves writers left

FEMALE 1: scrambling to think of episode ideas that can

FEMALE 1: be done with very little money or with pre-existing sets.

FEMALE 1: After the success of the Friends episode,

FEMALE 1: the one where no one's ready,

FEMALE 1: the creator demanded that there be

FEMALE 1: one deliberate Bottle episode per season.

FEMALE 1: The term Bottle episode was actually coined back in 1960.

FEMALE 1: It was a nickname that the crew

FEMALE 1: of Star Trek would give to

FEMALE 1: the episodes that spent

FEMALE 1: their entire duration on the enterprise.

FEMALE 1: Although, some people credit the term to Leslie Stephens,

FEMALE 1: the creator and executive producer of the 60s TV show,

FEMALE 1: The Outer Limits because it's like

FEMALE 1: pulling an episode out of a bottle,

FEMALE 1: which I guess makes sense.

FEMALE 1: Either way, William Shatner is getting paid.

FEMALE 1: But this was the case for Breaking Bad's episode fly.

FEMALE 1: As the show's creator,

FEMALE 1: Vince Gilligan told Vulture in an interview,

FEMALE 1: ''We were hopelessly over budget,

FEMALE 1: and we needed to come up with what is called

FEMALE 1: a bottle episode set in one location."

FEMALE 1: Their budgetary restrictions didn't

FEMALE 1: allow them the $25,000 to

FEMALE 1: $35,000 needed to move

FEMALE 1: the production trucks to a new location.

FEMALE 1: With an average episode of Breaking Bad

FEMALE 1: costing $9.5 million to create,

FEMALE 1: it's understandable that at some point,

FEMALE 1: they needed to cut back.

FEMALE 1: Not only do they save money,

FEMALE 1: but show runners and creators

FEMALE 1: stand by them as creative choices.

FEMALE 1: Vince Gilligan told The AV Club in an interview,

FEMALE 1: ''Even if financial realities didn't enter into it,

FEMALE 1: I feel as a show runner that there should be

FEMALE 1: a certain shape and pace to each season,

FEMALE 1: and the really high highs

FEMALE 1: that you try to get at the end of a season,

FEMALE 1: the big dramatic moments of action and violence,

FEMALE 1: the big operatic moments you're striving for,

FEMALE 1: I don't think what land is hard if you didn't

FEMALE 1: have the moments of quiet that came before them.''

FEMALE 1: Even though, Breaking Bad had a huge budget to kill

FEMALE 1: all those people in the

FEMALE 1: penultimate episode of the third season,

FEMALE 1: which garnered Aaron Paul his Emmy win,

FEMALE 1: it can be argued that it was

FEMALE 1: the Bottle episode that

FEMALE 1: really allowed the episode to do that.

FEMALE 1: Bottle episodes have found

FEMALE 1: their place in television writing to explore

FEMALE 1: relationships and characters and

FEMALE 1: provide a break and action for the audience.

FEMALE 1: No matter your stance on Bottle episodes,

FEMALE 1: whether you think they're boring or not,

FEMALE 1: you can actually thank them,

FEMALE 1: because they're what make a series

FEMALE 1: that much more dynamic.