On the Shoulders of a Giant: “Better Call Saul”

Pedro Acevedo

Managing Editor

It has been almost a year and half since the critically acclaimed TV series “Breaking Bad” ended its five season run, but the hype is far from over. True to one of the many memorable phrases of the show, people have a lot to remember its name by.

The clever writing and memorable characters earned the show countless awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series in Drama and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. To date, the show holds the Guinness World Record for being the highest-rated TV series of all time, with a Metacritic score of 99 out of 100.

Being true to its predecessor, the spinoff “Better Call Saul” has already set a new record for the best series premiere in cable history, attracting more than 4.4 million viewers for the first episode. The show focuses on the life of fan-favorite character Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk. The actor plays a witty, big mouthed criminal lawyer who is not afraid to work in and outside the law to exploit as many loopholes as possible to help his clients and himself.

Set six years before the events of “Breaking Bad,” the show will follow the life events of Jimmy McGill, a struggling, down-on-his-luck attorney, and how those events shaped him into his popular alter ego of Saul Goodman.

According to show creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, the series will feature several characters and locations from the original show, and two prominent ones have already debuted during the first two episodes.

Breaking Bad fanatics will surely recognize Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Saul’s private investigator, and Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca, the psychopathic Mexican drug kingpin who was one of the main antagonists during the early seasons of Breaking Bad.

“Better Call Saul” has the unique advantage of being based on what Forbes magazine described as simply the best show ever. Standing in the shoulders of a giant is not always easy, however, and many critics have expressed concerns about what the spinoff will do to maintain quality without always relying on the nostalgia of its parent show.

The first two episodes have all but dissipated most of those concerns. While it would be silly to call it a success after just two hours of runtime, so far the show has shown nothing but great writing and acting while incorporating the same tone and overall themes that made “Breaking Bad” an enormous success.

Furthermore, “Better Call Saul” seems to be successful at one of its most difficult tasks, which is to get fans engaged. Prequels have the ever-present disadvantage of having to tell a story while the viewer already knows the fate of its characters. The show is accomplishing this by showing a very different man than the character they saw in the original show; a man who had not yet, coincidentally, broken bad.

While it can’t be said that this show was not created, at least in part, to keep the fan base buzzing, “Better Call Saul” starts strong and stands on its own as a show of great promise, assuring both fans and newcomers that they won’t be disappointed.