Published On: Sun, May 3rd, 2015

TV Spotlight: Better Call Saul








Yes, Breaking Bad fans, I’m talking to you.  Better Call Saul, AMC’s accompanying prequel (and I use that word only for lack of a better one) premiered in early February. The show concluded its first season a few weeks ago. The reviews reflected praise that only Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould could yield. Gilligan is no newcomer to groundbreaking success in the industry, with 58 nominations and 28 industrial awards in his back pocket for Breaking Bad alone. Better Call Saul has gathered a 94% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

I use the word “prequel” carefully- Gilligan carries over the same clever, dark, and humorous screenwriting and cinematography that culminated into Breaking Bad’s success. However, he doesn’t attempt to reap his old successes. He builds upon loose ends tastefully, taking characters full circle.

Going into the series, I had just binge watched and become absolutely captivated by Breaking Bad. I quickly became part of the “don’t fix what isn’t broken” bandwagon and went into Better Call Saul with a fairly cynical attitude. Surely, something that had ended so perfectly shouldn’t be messed with again. But Gilligan didn’t produce such a success off of bad decisions- and this was no exception.

Bob Odenkirk returns as Saul pre-Walter White. We rewind to the start of his career as a lawyer. All those references to his past suddenly click into place- clever writing makes the transition seem as though it was intended since the day his character was drafted. A few old characters are dug out of the works; a nod to the earlier days of Breaking Bad. Personal favorites of mine, like Mike Ehrmantraut, who maintained an air of mystery as side characters, take the center stage and build off of existing character development. After one episode in, you already feel like you’ve been invested. The transition is absolutely seamless.

Heed the warning however, Better Call Saul is not, and does not attempt to be, its predecessor. But this exactly what makes the show what it is. It’s this deliberate attempt to distinguish itself from the former that keeps the viewer from feeling as though something precious had been tampered with. Instead, you feel as though you’ve opened another book, rather than adding chapters where they don’t belong. It manages to fill those monumental shoes by not being overshadowed by the series that spawned it.

And of course, in typical Vince Gilligan fashion, the series finale will leave you sitting with a million questions- one being “When does the next season come out again?”


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