Telling The Real Stories

“Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul” gives a reason to like cable again

in A & E/Reviews by

In a dark imitation palatial apartment, a dark figure smelling of cinnamon, dough, and cheap scotch sadly watches a VHS reel of past commercials from a past life. James McGill is wondering what happened, wondering where it all went wrong. Now living in a dark and anonymous existence in Nebraska, James McGill left Albuquerque fearing for his life because of a crystal meth fueled nightmare.

McGill was known as Saul Goodman back at that time, working with the likes of Walter White, Mr. Chips turned into Scarface, and Jesse Pinkman, a sad pawn regretting his role in this life as money, drugs, and corruption slowly took over.

In “Better Call Saul,” which is currently playing on AMC, Bob Odenkirk reprises his role as Saul Goodman from the hit show “Breaking Bad.” This show focuses on Goodman’s life starting in 2002, before he was known as Saul Goodman. James McGill is his given name, and according to the show, he had been hustling for years. Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” announced this spinoff right around the time “Breaking Bad” was ending its reign on AMC.

“Better Call Saul” has scored the highest debut ratings in cable history, with an overall 6.9 million viewers for its first episode.

As the show is currently nearing the end of its first season, it has grabbed a significant audience of Breaking Bad followers and has already been green-lit for at least a second season as of June of 2014, with a third possibly being negotiated.

The show boasts a prequel feel with introductions to new and fascinating characters. McGill is a struggling fledgling defense attorney, just arriving to Albuquerque, who is barely scraping by but still has a grifter streak in him from his former life in Cicero, Ill.

Along for the ride is James’ brother Chuck (Mike McKean), a successful, but mentally ill litigator, who fights with extreme agoraphobia and lives in fear daily. Also, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), who worked with Chuck in the same law firm and seems to have a developing relationship with James and at least a mutual professional courtesy.

The show also features some characters from the “Breaking Bad” world, including the enigmatic Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) which tells the fascinating back-story of his crossing paths with ‘Saul’ as a quiet parking attendant with a dark past, as well as other faces and locations from “Breaking Bad” sprinkled in for good measure.

The show has yet to involve Walter White or Jesse Pinkman, but creator Gilligan has hinted that this may be a possibility in far future episodes.

The show, which was a mid-season add-on leading up to their “Mad Men” swan song, has garnered a following and seems to be the next big thing for the cable network. For as much as “Breaking Bad” was a juggernaut, this promises to be a strong replacement of sorts for the show which left millions of fans wanting more.

With the identical production crew heading up this show, the same elements of “Breaking Bad” are there — the witty dialog, the camera work, the plot twists. All the elements are there for another success for Vince Gilligan and company.

With only three episodes left as of press time, this is a show to locate and binge watch. The story arc is very interesting with every episode ending with a desire to see what happens next. Gilligan and company have another certified hit on their hands for AMC.

Past episodes can be found On Demand or on AMC’s website. No word on when Season 2 is premiering, but it is promised to be something penciled in for rabid fans not to miss.

I give this show 4 out of 5, where it is not Breaking Bad, but it’s pretty close, and that is enough for me!

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