by Sherry Lipp
After watching the two night series premiere of Better Call Saul I can say I might already be hooked, at least for now.
Spinning off from a show as popular as Breaking Bad is a daunting prospect. Will fans be expecting just another Breaking Bad? Will they accept a show that doesn’t have Walter White (Bryan Cranston) or Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul)? Only time will answer those questions, but judging from its record-breaking debut-episode ratings, I’d say it’s off to a good start.
In these first two episodes, “Uno” and “Mijo,” Better Call Saul proves that it is its own show, but the spirit of Breaking Bad is definitely there. Remember where Saul (Bob Odenkirk) told Walt he would end up when he was getting ready to leave town at the end of Breaking Bad? Well, that’s exactly where we find him at the beginning of Better Call Saul. Not entirely happy with his new life, he spends his evenings watching VHS tapes of his old “Better Call Saul” TV commercials. And it’s those recollections of “better” times that take us into the actual story. We go back in time to when Saul was a struggling public defender named Jimmy McGill.
Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, which leaves room for plenty of familiar faces to show up and the show doesn’t waste any time bringing some of them in. Mike (Jonathan Banks) is a parking lot attendant at the courthouse where Saul works. So far the two don’t seem to like each other, so it will be interesting to see how their relationship expands. Another familiar, and unexpected, face from Breaking Bad is Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz). The reasons Saul and Tuco’s paths cross is totally ludicrous, but it all somehow works in the world of this show. Because, just like in Breaking Bad , this world is a little off kilter.
While there are plenty of nods to its predecessor, this show is not going to just be a parade of familiar characters. One of my favorite new characters is Saul’s brother Chuck (Michael McKean). Chuck is also a lawyer, though much more successful than his brother. Chuck works for a fancy law firm, or at least he did until he began suffering from a mystery ailment. Now he sits around his house obsessed with avoiding any kind of radiation contamination including cell phones and microwaves.
What I like about Better Call Saul is that it feels like it fits into the Breaking Bad world, but Saul’s world is very different than Walter White’s world. As I stated earlier Better Call Saul has the spirit of Breaking Bad, but it’s very much its own show.