It has been well over a year since “Breaking Bad” left television, yet it is still remembered by many as one of the greatest shows to grace the screen. While creator Vince Gilligan has put the character of Walter White behind him, he wants to show fans that Saul Goodman has more stories left in him and that actor Bob Odenkirk is still up for the task of telling it.
“Better Call Saul,” both a prequel and a sequel to “Breaking Bad,” follows the comic relief lawyer, Saul Goodman, as he copes with the darkness that haunts him from his jobs with Walter and Jesse Pinkman and from his own past as he works to become the Saul that fans have come to know and love from many years on TV.
Oftentimes when television producers attempt a spin-off for a fan-favorite character, it falls flat on its face — just ask Matt LeBlanc from “Friends” or Rainn Wilson from “The Office.” But “Better Call Saul” is a different case. The new series works because it mixes original content that stands alone as a great narrative while also throwing in multiple Easter eggs for fans of the original show to grin at.
“Better Call Saul” starts off, dare I say, on a stronger note than “Breaking Bad” did in its first season. “Breaking Bad” took a little bit of getting used to and had a bit of a slow burning beginning, while “Better Call Saul” had me on the edge of my seat with feelings of both tension and humor in its first two episodes.
The series storyline begins with Jimmy McGill (Saul’s birth name) in the year 2002 as a public defender. From the first court case shown, we fall back in love with this character as he uses his words as the ultimate weapon of choice. While he is good at what he does, Jimmy knows that he is better than the cases he has been receiving and seeks bigger fish to fry.
In addition to making a name for him, there is a side plot involving his brother’s company that is less interesting than it sounds it is but never becomes a drag.
With these first two episodes that premiered on AMC last weekend, viewers will get a sense of where the show is headed, and it is a worthy start to the journey Jimmy McGill takes to becoming Saul Goodman. He starts off with small-scale scams to make some quick money that leads him into a world of trouble. It is nothing compared to the perils that “Breaking Bad” puts him in, but his run-in with criminals here are just as effective thanks to the clever writing and suspenseful direction.
It is hard to know whether or not this show would work as well as a stand-alone story had “Breaking Bad” never been produced, but it is far from fan fiction as some had predicted it would be. “Better Call Saul” is entertaining enough on its own two feet to keep viewers coming back for more.
Only time will tell if Vince Gilligan and Bob Odenkirk can keep this character and his world interesting enough for multiple seasons, but for right now, “Better Call Saul” is a series well worth your time and a spin-off of great merit.