Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Better Call Saul - season opener

Just watched (yesterday morning) the two hour season premier of Better Call Saul the spin off (?) to Breaking Bad starring Bob Odenkirk as everyone's favourite morally dubious lawyer.

It seemed on paper to take a fairly one dimensional supporting character from a hit TV drama and try to make the show better than it's famous parent. Of course though, we are talking about the best ever one dimensional character and a show that never failed to impress with plot machinations and purest tension.

Some say 24 was the dawn of 'Box Set TV' but for me it was always Breaking Bad. I viewed the full series in around three or four weeks early last year and was hooked. But now the sequel, prequel, duringquel (?) is out - have you called Saul yet ?

The premise of BCS is simple, take Saul, real name Jimmy McGill and move him back to 7 years before the events of Breaking Bad and watch his slow fall from 2nd rate lawyer to 2nd rate, criminally connected TV lawyer Saul Goodman. But the show is clearly going to be so much more than that. Jumping around the Breaking Bad worlds timeline post BB to see Saul in witness protection and we're also promised (I understand) more information on events during the main BB timeline as well.

The drama is there in BCS, but this is funny, sometimes painfully funny. Saul really is the best lawyer ever as he negotiates a 'client' from a death sentence to six months parole - but oh my god the breadsticks - you just need to watch to find out more.

The scariest thing is that the most sympathetic character in the show opener is the hispanic mobster who wants Sauls' help to rip off the 'squarest' gangsters ever. The other scary thing is how good Odenkirk is. Listening to him being interviewed after filming the series some months ago he was extremely humble about his acting skills and the end result achieved for this 10 episode series (listen to his interview on the Nerdist podcast - it is great). In fact the acting is beyond excellent. As I say the character could be viewed as one dimensional but what Odenkirk does is take the tragic-comic elements and expands things so that we can see his inner being in his movements, voice and interactions with the other characters on screen. We're clearly only seeing the start of things here but the relationships with his brother and senior partner of his brothers law firm are superbly judged and bode well for drama and comic/dramatic interactions in future episodes.

This really is a one man tour de force for Odenkirk as he exists as the character in virtually every moment of the show - he is frankly hypnotic and Tuesdays on Netflix just became Water Cooler Streaming again - just like Breaking Bad.

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