Better Call Saul has premiered its first three episodes. As AMC’s latest groundbreaking original series spinning off from Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul has had great reviews and ratings. Joseph is a huge fan of Breaking Bad and Palmer never quite got into it. In the latest He Said, She Said, what do they both think of the first three episodes?
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved hour-long TV dramas about lawyers. My dad always loved Perry Mason, so I grew up with the most basic and original Godfather of TV legal procedurals. Then, during summers in elementary school, I’d wake up, play outside, then take a mid-morning break to watch Matlock reruns on TBS. So there’s something familiar and comfortable about Better Call Saul, AMC’s latest top-tier original drama series that is both prequel and sequel spin-off to one of the greatest TV dramas of all-time, Breaking Bad.
The spin-off, detailing how a down-on-his-luck lawyer named Jimmy McGill would eventually become Saul Goodman, is comfortable for other obvious reasons as well – it happens in the same universe as Breaking Bad. During the first three episodes, we may not have Walt and Jesse, but we have introductions to Mike in addition to surprise appearances from Tuco and Nacho.
But the comfort that reminds me of Matlock is due to Bob Odenkirk’s phenomenal portrayal of Jimmy McGill, the lawyer who will be Saul Goodman. The brilliance of this spin-off so far (I truly believe this could be TV drama’s version of Frasier, the greatest stand-alone spin-off in TV history) is found in Vince Gilligan finding the perfect balance between providing nods to its predecessor while presenting a story, characters, and universe that is easily accessible by those who never saw Breaking Bad or even, as hard as it may be to comprehend, tried Breaking Bad and didn’t wish to finish it.
Herein lies Better Call Saul‘s great potential to join the pantheon of “greatest shows ever” from this Second Golden Age of TV. Our favorite lawyer is no noble hero but nor is he an anti-hero. He’s a quick-thinking and quicker-talking attorney with the gift of gab, always trying to appeal to his better angels while inevitably dealing with his bad luck, dishonest past, and selfish desires. And for those of us who loved Breaking Bad, what we know is his future as well.
Better Call Saul, through 3 episodes, provides the intense drama we came to expect from Vince Gilligan in Breaking Bad with the darkly hilarious comedy of our favorite character. Can he carry an entire series on his own? If the first three episodes are any indication, in its own special way, this one could be just as good.
Breaking Bad was always too gritty for me. I’ve never been able to make it past the first few episodes. I dislike storylines of all kinds dealing with cancer and I’m normally uneasy with prolonged scenes or torture or bodies disintegrating in acid falling through ceilings.
So I wasn’t expecting to like Better Call Saul. But I must admit, while Joseph was watching the first episodes, I felt myself drawn more and more into this world with these characters and this show. Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman is a quirky character and one I can’t wait to see more of. The plot lines, character, and setting is extremely accessible to me even though I’ve only seen a handful of Breaking Bad episodes.