Better Call Saul

November 25, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THUMBNAIL REVIEWS | 6 Comments |

Season One, 2015

We knew this couldn’t be as good as Breaking Bad but it’s still well worth a look, compellingly soThe series is based on mobile phone-destroying attorney Saul Goodman, an artful dodger with an extremely flawed appreciation of legal professional privilege, who was not only comedy relief in several seasons of BB, but often a deus ex machina to boot (who can forget the moment when DEA Officer Hank Schraeder has Walt and Jesse cornered, only to get the slimiest of bum steers via phone from Saul’s office?)

's All Good, Man' (Digital sketch by Rich of Saskatoon, Canada)

‘s All Good, Man’ (Digital sketch by Rich of Saskatoon, Canada)

With this ‘prequel’, we go back in time to when Saul (Bob Odenkirk), now reduced to serving slop and watching old videos of his cheesy ads, was James McGill, a newly-minted attorney-at-law, starting afresh in New Mexico after a career as a back-alley grifter in Cicero, Illinois (known as ‘Slippin’ Jimmy’ – he’s now a bit like ‘Whiplash Willie’).  Jim is contending with a righteous older-brother (and junior dad) – Michael McKean – who has ‘Electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ and lives shrouded in tinfoil in a ‘grounded’ gas-lit home.  We also are re-introduced to Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), whose back story explains and enhances his later phlegmatic, monolithic demeanour.

This series is great fun: insanely precise (albeit bizarre) plotting, masterful staging and direction and a cast of characters Dickens would have gleefully spooned-down with his pudding.  McGill swings wildly between cockiness and shame, twixt doing good and breaking bad, with a definite sense in the last episode that he has made his choice.  Whilst the show lacks the gravitas and high-tragic aspects of Breaking Bad, as a spin-off, it wheels around real nice.


  1. Reply


    November 25, 2015

    Great fun indeed and as a Bob Odenkirk fan it was great to see him with a lead like this.
    I cannot think of a better spinoff…
    “Happy Days” to “Laverne and Shirley” springs to mind but I am obviously clouded by Michael “Lenny” McKean’s role here. Get Squiggy a guest spot in the next Saul series and lock in that Emmy!

    Can TVC recall a better TV spinoff/prequel?

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      November 29, 2015

      Crikey! SPK, that's a tough challenge. We can all cite bad spin-offs (George & Mildred; Cleveland; Mrs Columbo; Lou Grant; The Bionic Woman; Knot's Landing, and so on) but a good one? How's about Frasier, which was miles better and richer than Cheers? And what about Squiggy as (a) Chuck McGill's new ice(and beer) deliveryman (b) therapist or (c) home-insulation guy with a good line in discounted tinfoil?

  2. Reply

    Lesley Jakobsen

    November 29, 2015

    P agrees re Frasier, and adds that it is fiendishly difficult to succeed aesthetically with a spin-off, much more than in a film sequel. Examples of (mock) heroic fails: Fish (from Barney Miller); A Different World (from the Cosby Show - let's have Cosby in a Saul episode!); Good Times (from Maude, in turn from All in the Family); Green Acres (from Petticoat Junction - less a heroic fail than a train wreck); Joanie Loves Chachi (from Happy Days); Phyllis / Rhoda (both [and Lou Grant] from The Mary Tyler Moore Show); Trapper John MD (from M*A*S*H)...

  3. Reply

    Bree Burns

    December 2, 2015

    I'm not sure if I'm bringing the quality of the debate down here, or merely showing my age, but my all-time favourite spin-off is Angel (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Joss Whedon does kick-ass women characters better than anyone. Many others that come to mind for me are animated, e.g. my childhood favourite She-Ra: Princess of Power, which of course spun from He:Man: Master of the Universe. My other guilty pleasure was Boston Legal (from The Practice). Highly misleading in terms of the representation of legal practice but man Shatner and Spader were fun to watch! I would have to agree with the assessment of Frasier too - fantastic show.

  4. Reply

    Lesley Jakobsen

    December 3, 2015

    She-Ra: Princess of Power? How did I miss that one? Of course, if it was on at the same time as Shintaro! The Samurai, or Kimba, the White Lion it would not have got a look in at our place. Yes, George & Mildred was ghastly but there was one sweet spinoff from the adorable Man About the House (Robin in a pink dressing-gown and showercap!! HILARIOUS!!) - Robin's Nest, with Tessa Something. But let us not speak of Three's Company, the UK version of MAtH.

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