“Better Call Saul’s” First Season Escapes Spinoff Pitfalls

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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]pinoffs can be major hits or huge misses. For every “Frasier,” there are your “Joey’s,” “After Mash,” “Joanie Loves Chachi,” “Caprica.” I’m going to stop right there because I could keep going. Thankfully, the newest television spinoff “Better Call Saul” falls into the former category by playfully respecting its counterpart “Breaking Bad” and trying to do something different with the medium.

To be honest, when it was first announced that they were making “Better Call Saul,” I was dreading it. “Breaking Bad” ended on such a high note and I felt like this new show would tarnish its legacy. I thought the entire show was just going to be winking nods to “Breaking Bad” every 5 seconds and we were going to be punished by seeing younger versions of the Bad characters. But I was happy to be proven wrong by creators Peter Gould and “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, who ironically has been in the spinoff game before when he was the showrunner for the short lived “X-Files” spinoff “The Lone Gunmen.”

The show takes place in 2002 and follows, not Saul yet, but Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). McGill is still your run-of-the-mill ambulance chasing lawyer, but he has not reached the level of representing criminals like Saul did. The cast is rounded out by fantastic performances by Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut), Rhea Seehorn (Kim Wexler), and Michael McKean as Jimmy’s brother Chuck.

What I liked most about this show is how it differs itself from its predecessor. “Breaking Bad” was full of these Sergio Leone-wide shots of Albuquerque’s crystal blue skies and played up the suspense a bit more. Saul, on the other hand, is taking it’s time with telling stories and the camera lets scenes breathe a bit more. Along with stellar directing, Odenkirk, who is a comedic actor by trade, gives a very reserved and calculating performance as McGill. “What would make Jimmy McGill change his identity to Saul Goodman? asked Odenkirk in an interview when asked about the storyline. ” In my opinion, this is a really interesting way to look at things. The show’s season finale was on April 6 and if you have the time to check out this great show, do it!

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