TV: Recommendation – Better Call Saul

By James

This recommendation is aimed at those who have seen Breaking Bad but cannot face the prospect that the critically acclaimed spin-off Better Call Saul is equally as leaden-footed as its predecessor (or at least in parts of it). Well, I’m not here to tell you that it’s not. In certain episodes, the energy could use a kick, but on the whole it is a big improvement - on the sense of urgency and general pace of plot when compared with the multi-award winning sensation that introduced us to Saul Goodman back in 2009.

Better call Saul is, oddly, not really about Saul – at least not yet. Bob Odenkirk’s character, Saul, that we all know and love actually comes from humble beginnings and goes by his birth name Jimmy McGill. The entire premise of the series is his transition from Jimmy to Saul. So far, we have not made it the whole way but I’m beginning to see the cracks forming and the transition starting. I will not give anything away as I really do think this is a great show and want everyone to watch it.

As this is a spin-off, the vast majority of characters do make a welcomed return. Not all of them, but most. Obviously Walter and Jesse (and all associated family, friends, etc) have been left out of the equation otherwise it would have just been a prequel to Breaking Bad. I mean, in a way, it is a prequel series but I’m straying from the point of the article.

Saul did not have everything handed to him on a plate. In BB we see him as this conman/lawyer who ‘knows a guy’, but he was not always so familiar with these ‘guys’ - he had to earn it and Odenkirk does a beautiful job of showing us the development of Saul from young gun to corrupt veteran criminal lawyer and with Sauls’s past being drawn out into the limelight, a plethora of characters from his past join the fray: The gorgeous Rhea Seehorn plays Kim Wexler - an ambitious and focused lawyer with a lot of drive, likeability and focus. Michael McKean plays Chuck McGill – Jimmy’s older, more mature and all round pain in the neck brother, and there are others you’ll have to watch the show to see.

For Breaking Bad fans, it is a welcome addition to the universe. It is much more light-hearted than the dark and threatening antics of Walter and Jesse but maintains the same intrigue and suspense that came with it. Each episode is brilliantly quirky, well-written and superbly acted. I cannot knock the acting or directing - they’re, arguably, on par with the original series.

When I first got into BCS, I was worried that it would be a drawn out mess of a show about a man who was liked and disliked by the original viewers and fan base. I wasn’t sure how they could create anywhere near the same level of viewability as Breaking Bad which was so bold and new that it took the world by storm and so, I thought, there was no way they could live up to the same name. What Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have done therefore is take the universe to a new place. It is far more comical and far more eccentric than the ‘straight-as-an-arrow’ forefather show. This means that it can’t be represented by the same judgements. It is a show in its own right and should be viewed as such.

So, I urge you all to go and watch it, especially those who loved Breaking Bad. It really is as good. What is nice is when you get to the most recent season, things start opening up – hints to the end-game are finally coming out.

Maybe the transformation of jimmy will run parallel to the transformation of the show, back into BB, Who knows? All I can say is that it is very much worth watching and sticking with until you find yourself as intrigued and captivated by this new story as I am.

If you disagree or feel you have something worth mentioning then, as always, let me know @MugwumpBlog

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