I liked “Torchwood”. As far as spin-offs go, it’s a pretty good one. I am still not a huge fan of “Fear the walking dead”, though the last season finally started to take steps in a direction I’m willing to go along with. I am, however all in for “Better call Saul”!
When it was just announced that this series is going to be produced, and by the same folks who gave us “Breaking Bad”, I was excited and worried at the same time. Excited because I can watch Saul Goodman doing his thing all day, but worried because being a spin-off to a show of that magnitude (“Breaking Bad” is, in fact the best TV drama ever. It’s a fact because… reason) it had the perfect opportunity to fail. Having finished watching season 4, I have a few things to say about what I consider to be the best current drama show on TV.
They took their time
It was something of an itch, to some of us Saul Goodman fans, to see the guy from Breaking Bad come out, guns blazing from the get go. Luckily the gifted production team, starting from the writers, with the perfect delivery of Bob Odenkirk and the wonderful cast, decided to take their time and show us how Jimmy McGill becomes the man we all knew and loved. It wasn’t a gag fest of “criminal lawyer” Saul Goodman. Instead it is – as a good story should be – an arc. We take the ride with a very relatable character, with plenty of flaws, and we cheer for him. Even if we know he gets corrupted, we understand. We get it. It’s all good man!
Those aren’t really cameos
Sure, there are a couple of faces who show up with limited purpose, but for the most part, characters who we originally met in “Breaking Bad” and were introduced into “Better call Saul” were introduced because there’s a story to tell, and they either play a major role in it, have some back story to show or both. The best examples might be Mike and Tito Salamanca. Along with Gustavo Fring and others, they don’t just play the “Hey, these guys were on Breaking Bad” roles, but move the story forward, or serve as part of the setting (we all know that at some point, Walter White meets Saul. It’s part of a bigger story).
They are respectful
The way the story is written, and told both by way of script, as well as the way it’s screen-played, shows a great deal of respect to “Breaking Bad”, to Saul and his cast of course, and perhaps most of all to the fans. There is an independent story here, told with great care, putting the focus on the main character – Jimmy/Saul – and woven into this, the larger story of the set of characters who feature into the “Breaking Bad” universe. There is a lot of correspondence with the original series, both obvious (again, not just for cheap pops – with a purpose), as well as far more subtle. I may be barking at the wrong tree, but there are many scenes that I can immediately relate to “Breaking Bad” without them even having to do with the story directly. An example of that, I find, was the scene in the last episode of season 4 (Spoiler alert if you haven’t watched yet), where Mike is about to kill Werner. Mike’s character is of a person who always owns up, and even if for a brief moment there was hope for the German, it was never going to be different. And why does that scene corresponds to the original? In my mind (and I believe that it was done with thought behind it), this was very similar to when Mike was going to Kill Walter, and the only reason he didn’t was Jessie getting to Gale, leaving Fring without a cook. Werner is a professional like Walt, who’s skills are valued. Unlike Walt, he could be replaced and had no backup.
On a “Breaking Bad” panel, I heard Bob say that “It’s just the writers”. That he just comes to work, reads what they tell him to and go home. Rrrriiiigghht…
I don’t think Bob Odenkirk is a good actor. I think he is a phenomenal actor. I think he can do a Psycho killer, a lover, a tough military guy or a clown with the same level of credibility and grace. He is required to do a nice range of acting in this series and I think he nails it on every turn.
I think that part of what makes this series so great, is the decision to have it as a kind of prequel, and not a disconnected series of events. By making that choice, the producers committed themselves to an end. An end that we are all very familiar with and as such, it is tied to some expectations. This gives the writers an obligation to stay true to the character, and not go off on some crazy bunny trails that in so many cases result in completely losing focus and faith from the viewers.
Whoever is in charge of making the decision better let these guys take this series all the way to its satisfying end.
You want the end to be Walter White walking in with a silly disguise, trying to influence him to keep Badger quiet – great. You want to end it simply by receiving his first customer in his tacky strip mall office – great. But let it get to its natural conclusion. However you want to – It’s all good man!