Opinion, Reviews

“Better Call Saul:” A prequel done correctly

“Better Call Saul” is back on television on AMC, with Monday marking its sixth episode of its fourth season.

Set as a prequel to the acclaimed AMC series “Breaking Bad,” it follows the life of Jimmy McGill, better known as Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk. In “Breaking Bad,” he was the corrupt, fast-talking criminal lawyer, Saul, whose slogan was “Better Call Saul.” Here in the past, he’s just Jimmy, a new struggling lawyer. He is still shady, but he has something of a moral compass… for now. The show also features the return of a few other familiar characters.

This review won’t necessarily cover the latest season – to be honest I’m waiting for it to be released on Netflix. Instead, this will be an overview of the entire series based on the past three seasons.

“Breaking Bad” has been hailed as one of the greatest TV shows in recent years, and “Better Call Saul” is just as good, earning the same universal acclaim. The show has proven to be a proper prequel and not a mere cash grab.

By all means, “Breaking Bad” is probably the greater show, but, personally, I prefer “Better Call Saul” between the two.

Part of my preference is the focus on family. “Breaking Bad” has a lot of family drama mixed in with the gritty world of drug dealers. The family did serve as an important part of the show; however, the family drama can be boring to watch. And some of the characters are annoying, like Skyler and her sister Marie. I kind of wished one of them would have been killed off.

I have never fast-forwarded through an episode of “Better Call Saul,” while in “Breaking Bad” it’s tempting every time the White family sits down at the table for a meal.

Another big reason I prefer “Better Call Saul” is that I didn’t like Saul Goodman that much in “Breaking Bad.” He was alright, but he seemed to just show up, say a bunch of pop culture references and then leave. In “Better Call Saul,” I love Jimmy and I’m completely invested in his character.

So why is “Better Call Saul” such a great prequel?

Throughout the show, you get to see the same characters from before, but here they are different. Jimmy is not Saul Goodman. And the other returning characters are not the same either. Not yet. Prequels tend to be guilty of featuring characters who are still the same. For example: “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

In “Breaking Bad,” Saul Goodman has no moral compass, he’s just corrupt. In the show, character Jesse Pinkman described him as being “a ‘criminal’ lawyer.” In “Better Call Saul,” he is shown to have his limits and he actually cares for other people. What happened to make him change? When does he go from Jimmy McGill and become Saul Goodman? This is the main reason “Better Call Saul” succeeds at being a great prequel.

There are other factors on why the show is great. The acting, the camera work and especially the writing and plot. The writers behind “Better Call Saul” have truly done their homework, keeping continuity with the first series. Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” is the co-creator for “Better Call Saul” with Peter Gould, who worked on all five seasons of “Breaking Bad.”

The only real flaw to “Better Call Saul” is that a lot of time has passed since “Breaking Bad.” This means actors on the show look much older than they did before, despite the series being a prequel. The age gap can be distracting and almost unintentionally funny.

Also bear in mind a fan of “Breaking Bad” may not be a fan of “Better Call Saul” because they are two different TV shows.

“Breaking Bad” was dark and violent with literally hundreds of characters being dead by the show’s end. “Better Call Saul” has a much lighter tone, though it can be dark and violent. Both are good in their own way.

Although I doubt Vince Gilligan or anyone else thought about making a prequel series while working on “Breaking Bad,” it’s an outstanding show. I was skeptical when I first heard of this show, being a fan of “Breaking Bad.” I especially didn’t like the idea of so many of the same characters returning. Yet “Better Call Saul” pleasantly surprised me. For a series with hardly any action, the show is incredibly compelling.

I’m so excited to see the latest season. “Breaking Bad” got better and better as the seasons went by, and I hope “Better Call Saul” will be the same.

2 Comments

Jewell Bode

Jacque. … this is very impressive. Thanks for sharing. How proud you must be , it must be the Sue in him.
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