So Breaking Bad was a pretty popular TV series. Dark with a smidgen of humor here and there, our imaginations were captured by the ill-fated journey of Walter White. But right there, alongside Walter in the latter seasons, was that ethically challenged attorney of his, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk. A fan favorite.
Saul was comedic relief in the oddest of moments, but if you think about it, it wasn’t comedy. What Saul delivered was dry, pragmatic observations that took you out of the moment for but a second, and that, in itself, was a bit of levity. And we liked him.
So now that we have the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul coming down the pipe from AMC, I have to wonder what folks are thinking or expecting? I think it’s a mistake to expect a comedy. The character was knee deep in dirty laundry of all kinds. So you know where the series is headed.
Spinoffs are a fine balancing act. Some work, some don’t. Or to be more exacting, prequels too, have their own balancing act to pay out.
But television viewers are notorious for thinking with their expectations and emotions. The two combined can be a bad experience. Look at ABC’s Agents of SHIELD. EVERYONE expected something beyond great after the blockbuster success of The Avengers. But what we got was something very different. Very somber, grounded in reality of a sorts. The other problem was that SHIELD was beholden to another schedule. They had to bide their time waiting for Captain America 2 to come out to let loose with their planned future stories. And while they twiddled their thumbs, they had horrible writing and lost a huge contingent of fans with that bulls* move. But for those who waited it out, they now have a fairly decent show that’s fun to watch.
What we have to do is temper our expectations and remember who this new show is from and who plays Saul.
Vince Gilligan does not have a huge resume, but oh, what a rap sheet of entertainment. From executive producing The X-Files (Did you hear Fox is thinking of a reboot?) then later helming Breaking Bad. In between TV stints he wrote Hancock and is now bringing us Better Call Saul and at the same time, delivering the new upcoming series, Battle Creek, starring Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters to our TV sets. (Premiering on March 1st on CBS.)
The other end of the spectrum is Odenkirk who has 48 different TV or movie titles on his resume. That same man who delivered the dry, dark humor of Saul in Breaking Bad, his timing and tone, priceless.
And that’s what we can expect, something new from the creator and star, covering ground that is in the same world that Walter White existed in, but having very little to do with it. (The show takes place six years prior to events in Breaking Bad.)
One of our expectations that will be stunned, is that in this prequel, we’ll be focused or following the exploits of Jimmy McGill. The man who will become the mall lawyer named Saul Goodman. Hence, like Breaking Bad, this will be a journey.
If we approach this show with open minds, we just might be surprised. Completely. Or not. We will find out on February 8th when Better Call Saul premieres for its two-night premiere.