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Review: Every ‘Breaking Bad’ Fan Should Embrace ‘Better Call Saul’

Mike (Jonathan Banks) phoned the cops after digging up some old information in a recent episode. Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures

Mike (Jonathan Banks) phoned the cops after digging up some old information in a recent episode. Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures

Michael Starr writes: Back in early 2015, I joined the chorus of TV fans lamenting the premiere of “Better Call Saul,” a prequel series starring Bob Odenkirk reprising his combed over, shyster-lawyer character from “Breaking Bad,” which ended its scorching run just 17 months before.

“Every season we kind of go in and talk and come up with a basic road map, signposts for a general arc for what the season will be, and where we want to take the characters,” says. We try to build that organically as we go along. This season, for instance, we really wanted to escalate the relationship between Jimmy and Chuck and bring that to a head.

— “Better Call Saul” writer Gennifer Hutchison

Sure, Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman was a charming, slippery chameleon, providing whatever comic relief managed to slow-drip into the pitch black world of “Breaking Bad.” He was fun to watch, but he was a lateral character who couldn’t carry an entire series. Why not just let “Breaking Bad” rest in peace and move on? Enough already.

I was wrong, and as “Better Call Saul” barrels toward its Season 3 finale Monday night it’s become one of my go-to series. It’s no “Breaking Bad,” but it has carved out its own unique universe (in familiar Albuquerque, no less) and has succeeded in making Saul Goodman (or Jimmy McGill, as he’s known here) a multi-layered person surrounded by equally interesting and colorful characters. It would be a creative injustice if Michael McKean, for instance, doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for his searing portrayal of Jimmy’s brilliant-yet-incapacitated brother, Chuck. His storyline this season has been compelling, particularly in his tense battles with Jimmy and with his smarmy law partner, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian, equally terrific). And I like how the series has taken its time building its own world, holding back until this season on integrating those “Breaking Bad” characters both familiar (Gus Fring, Lydia, Hector) and arcane (hey, isn’t that Huell?) into its circa 2003 storyline. No Walter, Jesse or Hank — yet — but who knows? Maybe next season.

Michael McKean has had a strong season.Michele K.Short/AMC/Sony Picture

Michael McKean has had a strong season.Michele K.Short/AMC/Sony Picture

“Every season we kind of go in and talk and come up with a basic road map, signposts for a general arc for what the season will be, and where we want to take the characters,” says “Better Call Saul” writer Gennifer Hutchison, who wrote Monday night’s season finale. “We try to build that organically as we go along. This season, for instance, we really wanted to escalate the relationship between Jimmy and Chuck and bring that to a head.”

“Each season it feels like we’ve brought more [‘Breaking Bad’] elements into the show as [the storyline] gets more and more complex,” says Hutchinson, who also wrote for “Breaking Bad.” “We have so many continuity notes … (read more)

via New York Post

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