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Better Call Saul: what you need to know

The Breaking Bad spin-off's cast, plot and a musical interlude...

Published: Sunday, 8th February 2015 at 3:21 pm

Bob Odenkirk’s depiction of sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman was a highlight in Breaking Bad’s acclaimed run – so when it was announced that his character was getting his own spin-off, hopes were high. Now, with Better Call Saul launching tomorrow on Netflix UK, here's everything you need to know before the case opens.


It’s not made by the same guy

While heavily involved, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan will not be at the helm. Instead, the man who created the character will be in charge: writer/producer Peter Gould. See them both discussing the series in this clip:

Saul isn’t Saul…yet

Set six years before he met Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, the series will follow how James M. McGill, a struggling small-time lawyer, became the shady ‘criminal lawyer’ Saul Goodman.

"Everything is new to me, I didn’t know any of this story about the character," Odenkirk told E! "I’m learning a lot about this guy, and everyone’s going to learn a lot about him because it’s all new story."

Indeed, there is a certain nobility about Saul at this stage in his career. “Sleaze doesn’t seem to be a good enough word for what Saul’s doing, it’s not a rich enough word," Odenkirk told Radio Times. "Sleaze is so surface and it feels like you can see through it so easily. Can we call it formidable sleaze? He’s actually kind of legit. He knows the crux of his job: that truth is malleable."

That said, Saul’s legendary talk-his-way-out-of-anything silver-tongue hasn't quite developed yet:

The plot might be a bit timey-wimey

While generally a prequel, it appears that Better Call Saul may also explore events during and after the time period of Breaking Bad.

“We think, by and large, this show will be a prequel, but the wonderful thing about the fractured chronology we employed on Breaking Bad for many years is the audience will not be thrown by us jumping around in time,” Gilligan told Entertainment Weekly.

“So it’s possible that we may indeed do that, and we’ll see the past and perhaps the future.”

It’s going to be funny

Specifically, the mix is set to be about 75% comedy, 25% drama, apparently, so a bit less serious than Breaking Bad. I am the one who knock-knocks, perhaps?

Mike is back

Apart from Odenkirk, the only confirmed returning Breaking Bad cast member is Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut (above, left, with Odenkirk), the laconic hitman/general fixer whom he worked with in the original series. When they first meet, Mike is a parking attendant. The pair don't exactly hit it off:

But there are new faces

Newcomers include characters played by Patrick Fabian as Hamlin, Rhea Seehorn as Kim, Michael Mando as Nacho and Michael McKean as Chuck.

We almost certainly won’t see Bryan Cranston or Aaron Paul

Despite early reports that the actors were interested in reprising their Breaking Bad lead roles, they’ve since denied they will appear. Dean Norris, who played DEA Agent Hank Schrader, is also out because of his commitment to another series. Still, never say never – Gilligan reckons they might pop in.

“Personally, I'd have a hard time resisting putting all these guys in for a cameo or two every now and then,” Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter.

“The sky's the limit with a prequel. Everybody who's now deceased in the Breaking Bad world is obviously still alive. You never know who might turn up and when and where.” 

For those wanting a Bryan Cranston fix, the actor will at least be doing his bit by directing one episode, as he did on Breaking Bad.

UK Netflix users will keep up with the US

Although it's shown on AMC over in the states, new episodes will be posted every week to Netflix in the UK, much like during the last series of Breaking Bad.

Saul now has his own song

“Saul, Saul, You better call Saul,

He’ll fight for your rights when your back’s to the wall,

He’ll stick it to the man, justice for all,

You better call Saul!”

The critics love Saul already...

Early reviews have been almost unanimous with praise, with one critic writing "fans will soon realise that their favourite rock has rolled all the way to the bottom of the hill.” Only with Saul would that be a compliment.

…and it’s already got a second series!

AMC in America renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes back in June – so it looks like they have some faith in it.



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