It’s very easy to immediately lump a spin-off series into the ‘flogging a dead horse’ pile or ‘don’t try and capitalise on something that was so perfect’ heap, to push it away because it’s so obviously a cash-grab, riding on the coattails of a once-popular series in the hopes of sponging up the overflow of money that was thrown at its predecessor.
Thankfully, Better Call Saul looks nothing like that. Stepping out from the giant shadow that Breaking Bad left behind after its end, writers Vince Gillian and Peter Gould realised that there was a whole other world to explore through the smaller role of Saul Goodman. You know, the bumbling-yet-determined lawyer that helps Walt with his money laundering and booming meth business? Yeah, that guy.
Granted, when the news first came out that the Breaking Bad team were in discussions about giving Saul Goodman (aka Jimmy McGill) his own show, there was skepticism purely because Breaking Bad is such a stellar series that ticks all the right boxes. How is a spinoff supposed to step away from the enormous shadow cast by a series as huge and well-loved as Breaking Bad?
The only thing that can be thought of is that it needs to stray just far enough away that it looks less like a spinoff, and more like it’s own series. Chipping away at the coattails of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is more of an insight into what made James McGill turn from a small-time lawyer, into the legal brains behind the hugely unlawful production and distribution of Walt’s perfectly-crafted blue meth. An interesting take for a series to show the what happened in the lead-up to one of the best dramas of the decade, through the eyes of a smaller character role – almost a daring endeavour.
From the extended trailer, it feels like we’re being urged to not fear the term ‘spinoff’, or toss it to the side with the assumption that it’s never going to be as good as the original. Because if the original never actually jumped the shark, then there’s hope in a prequel series that has potential to run parallel storylines and character arcs.
It’s all good, man.
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