Friday, April 17, 2015

A TV Tour-de-Force

I didn't get in on the Breaking Bad juggernaut until the show was almost finished- and I am still only on Season One. (Shame on me, I know!) So when they announced a prequel about one of the characters from Breaking Bad that I still hadn't met yet on that series, I decided that I would get in on the ground floor.

Better Call Saul started on February 8 and has turned into its own classic.

  • 9.2/10·IMDb
  • 100%·Rotten Tomatoes
  • 9.2/10·
  • 78%·Metacritic
I was hooked from the start.

It got off to a slow start with several different story-lines seeming to compete against each other. Yet each adding to the others bits and pieces of the story that will eventually, six years hence, become Saul Goodman.

Lighting, cinematography, scripts, acting, character development grew on me week-by-week.

For this first season, Jimmie/Saul is a person with both a soul and a heart. He is trying to make it. He was a slippery person, trying to be respectable yet always fighting his inner demons and tendencies. No one wants to be on his side. He wants the best- and he wants to be successful. His struggle is almost the struggle of an "Everyman." We know he will become a sleazy lawyer in the Breaking Bad-era and then end up working in a mall Cinnabon after that ends, as we saw in a flash-forward at the start of episode one. That gives his comic tragedy persona even more to work with.

There are a number of top-shelf characters- and actors turning in incredible performances. The original casting of comic Bob Odenkirk in such a serious role was genius. He keeps the "heaviness" from overwhelming, yet we see it tearing him apart. Jonathan Banks is nothing short of mesmerizingly brilliant as Mike, the "cleaner" and Michael McKean as Jimmy's brother is another kind of sleazy.

There were at least three Emmy-nomination moments in the first season:
  • Mike in episode 6 and 9
  • Jimmie/Saul and Chuck in episode 9
It isn't often that a spin-off can become as much as or even more than its predecessor. (Lou Grant comes to mind as an exception.) Better Call Saul has been nothing short of excellent and kept getting better. While it may never reach the iconic status of Breaking Bad, it will be its own tour-de-force on the TV scene.

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