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Better Call Saul: a fitting accompaniment to its predecessor?

By Editor
Better Call Saul: a fitting accompaniment to its predecessor?

It's been a year and a bit since the world said goodbye to Breaking Bad. Widely considered to be one of the best products of this current epoch of golden television, when it finished many were left wondering where their next audio visual bender was going to come from.

Well, new shows have attempted to assume the mantle, but it was the premiere of Better Call Saul last night that the world was really waiting for. But did it meet expectation or was it just a cash-in for AMC?

We first meet good guy Saul in an unfamiliar job role, a baker at a pastry chain: Cinnabon (of which there a four in England if you're interested). This opening segment is filmed in luscious monochrome, and we soon realise this is post-Breaking Bad, not pre.

 

 

The clues are there when we see the former attorney acting sheepish when a rough looking customer stares over at him from his chair, and when he arrives home from work, it's hammered home when he puts on a video of his old ads, prompting him to gently sob. This new life seems bizarre and out of place and definitely not the fun sleazeball we loved in the original series. Luckily, however, this sad moment, though moving and beautifully shot, is only fleeting and we are transported to 2002 - 6 years before the rise of Walter White.

We're back to colour this time - a healthy indication that we've shifted time zones, and we're in a place that we can associate with Goodman: the courtroom. After a bit of rehearsing his line of argument in the toilets, (which resembles Eminem readying himself before a rap battle in 8-mile) he enters with the opening exclamation "oh, to be nineteen again!” Using the 'they were only young' defence to attempt to get a trio of teenagers idiots off for having sex with the severed head of a cadaver, we soon realise he's back to his old tricks.

 

 

I think everyone had initial problems when they heard that Better Call Saul was to be a sitcom. Spin-offs, especially in the comedic mould, have the propensity to be dreadful. I know it may be too obvious to single out, but Joey was a crime of television. Thankfully, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan decided to oversee the first episode, and if this opener is anything to by, there is a good chance this could be something that could stand alone.

But this isn't the canned laughter and brightly lit appearance of the stereotypical sitcom. It's part of the current wave of cinematic, rule-bending shows like Louie and Eastbound and Down.

As the narrative progresses we start to realise that our protagonist lawyer hasn't assumed his 'Saul Goodman' persona just yet and is known as Jimmy McGill. We do see his workings, though; he tries unsuccessfully to glean as much money out of people as possible, he doesn't care who he defends and most importantly, he's entertaining and ludicrous.

With a cheeky cameo and ending on a cliffhanger, Better Call Saul's first instalment is sure to please many a Breaking Bad fanatic, as well as newcomers to the stylised world created by Gilligan.
 

Tagged: breaking bad, better call saul, amc

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