What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘spin-off’?
You might have a passing thought in the direction of NCIS, Saved By The Bell and even technically The Simpsons, but there’s a huge mountain of simply mediocre and generic TV shows which have tried to capitalise on the success of their predecessors. Remember Three’s a Crowd, Baywatch Nights or even the more recent Joey? Of course you don’t, and that’s what fans of Breaking Bad are worried about; the possibility of the original idea being unnecessarily exploited, poorly executed and forgotten in a sea of ‘meh’-worthy shows.
In all fairness, under the supervision of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, its very unlikely that Better Call Saul will slip into the aforementioned abyss. As with games, films and any other form of media, a successful sequel will develop and expand upon previous ideas, rather than simply replicate them. At a glance, Better Call Saul appears to be doing just that, with a complete shift from the dark and tense atmosphere which was so well utilised in Breaking Bad, with a new comedic focus poised to be honed in by Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of the lawyer himself.
While Goodman’s antics in Breaking Bad served to provide some comic relief to an otherwise very tense series, it’s unclear as to how key comedy will be to the new series. Presumably, with new characters, a new setting and a new time frame, Better Call Saul looks to almost completely ditch it’s predecessor, and have a much more light-hearted atmosphere than the morally questionable drug kingpin world of Vince Gilligan.
With only the odd familiar face being brought along for the ride, I have to say that I’m glad Better Call Saul doesn’t seem to be relying on the popularity of Breaking Bad. The most notable characters consist of Saul himself, and private eye, Mike Ehrmantraut. Apart from the odd suggested cameo, appearances from the likes of Walter, Jesse and Hank have essentially been ruled out due to conflicting real-world schedules. But it’s probably for the best; Take it as a new comedy show with a memorable (and somehow familiar) characters, rather than an exploitation of a highly successful previous idea and you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it.
Given the drastic change, Breaking Bad fans may very well be disappointed by the new show, something which Gilligan himself has proved to be fairly anxious about. In noting that the new show could either relate to the relative success or failure of Fraiser or After M*A*S*H, it’s entirely possible that the creators believe that their product could go either way.
Gilligan’s own response barely instills confidence in fans, as he states” I am worried … it may turn out it was a mistake to do this”. And if you weren’t already clutching your Breaking Bad merchandise fearfully, Gilligan’s only directing the initial pilot episode, and not the series as a whole. But don’t fret, the dark melancholy which serves as a constant undertone in Breaking Bad may not be as well suited here, in a series with a nonsensical and less serious protagonist than Walter White. That, and the new Peter Gould has been nominated for four Writers Guild of America awards, so it’s relatively safe to say he knows what he’s doing.
Despite the potential of Better Call Saul; the perfect amount of familiar faces, the new setting and the necessary shift in atmosphere, we’ll have to put ourselves in the shoes of those involved for once, and simply wait and see. Sure, a repeat of Breaking Bad would be great for die-hard fans, but where’s the innovation, where’s the potential, and what’s the fun in doing that? However it’s going turn out, I can certainly understand why people are notably less excited for Better Call Saul than it’s predecessor.
And for that reason alone, I hope that Gould and the rest of the crew utilise the potential of the new setting and blow everyone out of the water with a solid and unexpected comedy. What can I say, I’m a fan.
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