Episodic Review: Better Call Saul – Première

Editor's Review
  • clearly set its stall out to be something very different to Breaking Bad
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As far as spin-offs go, none have had to endure quite the level of expectation that has been placed on the shoulders of Better Call Saul. The AMC show is, of course, a prequel to critically-acclaimed hit drama Breaking Bad, which you may have heard of. Set six years prior to the events surrounding Walter White, Better Call Saul follows the rise and fall of corrupt defence lawyer Jimmy McGill or, as we know him, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).

The series première – entitled Uno – opens with a Breaking Bad-esque scene of foreboding; a black and white depiction of Saul in what we suppose is a time post-Breaking Bad, showing a paranoid and mustached Goodman serving in a café. The episode goes on to contain the appropriate amount of black humour, sun-touched New Mexico suburban areas, and visual verve, with a fantastic script, which was one of the main strengths of Breaking Bad. There is, however, a glaring lack of pizza throwing thus far.

The contrast here with Breaking Bad is that, supposing the viewer has seen the original series, we know the latter part of the story of how Saul got to this point in his life, but it is the early blanks that need filled. In Breaking Bad, a huge component of the charm was the pulsating drama that made the show an addictive thrill ride, and the Number 1 binge watch around.

What this indicates is a desire to take Saul in a different direction, with the focus mainly on the development of his character, and how he became the person we all loved and loathed. Because of this, however, it seems that Saul will very much be one for the Breaking Bad fans to fully appreciate. Judging by the first episode and what we know of the character already, the show is unlikely to contain the same cliffhanging anticipation surrounding the fate of the main character.

This does not mean the show cannot be original and brilliant in its own right, and the first episode certainly indicates it has potential to be just that. The only problem, for want of a better word, is that it will require knowledge of Breaking Bad to be fully appreciated. It will require a connection with the characters we already know, in order to fully understand just why this show has been created. Although, to be fair, most will not watch this show before its predecessor, it cannot be judged on this presumption.

Better Call Saul has clearly set its stall out to be something very different to Breaking Bad, even if it is touched with the hallmarks of the creators and of course some shared characters. However, I must add that it is not the fault of Better Call Saul that it is a near-requisite to have seen Breaking Bad in order to fully enjoy it. To be frank, it is the fault of the viewer for not having seen Breaking Bad yet. Where the hell have you been?!

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