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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Did 'Better Call Saul' live up to expectation?

If you're reading this, you're probably wanting to know whether I enjoyed Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul. If I were mean I could make you read through endless paragraphs where I yabbered on about the difficulties that befall prequels or sequels, but I'm a lovely person and I want to save you bother of all that: I absolutely ruddy loved it!

I was so much of a late comer to Breaking Bad that by the time I'd finished it most people had watched the series in its entirety three or four times. My relationship with Vince Gilligan's masterpiece wasn't love at first sight. I didn't fully understand all the hype until I reached mid-way through it's second season. It was then the obsession that had gripped millions before me took hold.

At the peak of the obsession, I was waking up early just to make sure I could binge and my fix. The irony that I was addicted on a show about the manufacture of a highly addictive substance wasn't utterly lost me. By some miracle I managed to avoid any spoilers and could revel twist and turn with utter joy. I has type this I'm stopping every so often to glance at the Breaking Bad fringe magnets that came with my complete series collector's tin. Such is my obsession that I purchased the tin, despite already having a Netflix subscription and owning the series on DVD. I purchased the expensive (but impressive looking) tin simply because it came an exclusive bonus disc which contained with the fantastic documentary 'Half Measures.' I'm even biding my time to re-watch the entire series again any day now.

So, that brings us to the prequel, which arrived for UK viewers exclusively on Netflix on Monday. Lawyer Saul Goodman (the wonderful Bob Odenkirk) often served as a comic relief swirling around our two anti heroes in the original series, but with this new drama we sees Saul wasn't always the happy go lucky cheat we came to know and love in Breaking Bad. In fact for the first two episodes of this fantastic series Saul isn't even Saul, he's James McGill. He's struggling to make ends meat as a poorly paid public defender. He's a softer, gentler Saul then Breaking Bad fans might be expecting. He's on the right side of the law trying to survive. Don't fret though as the Saul we know is still in there. He's still got the gift gab which quite literally saves his skin in the double bill. I apologize for the vague nature of this review but, much like it's predecessor it's best enjoyed knowing virtually nothing beforehand. I'd hate to be the bearer of spoilers here.

The one thing I can say without the worry of spoiling anything is that Gilligan and co have achieved their goal of creating a show that Breaking Bad fans can revel in but still manages to be its own thing. It's natural with any spin-off that you'd spend the first half an hour listening and watching for the tiniest references to the series it spun off from but that quickly evaporates here as thanks to the expertly plotted first episode we're drawn into Saul's (sorry James McGill's) world.

By the time the time the credits rolled on the first episode I felt those familiar feelings of obsession creeping back over me. By the time the second episode had finished I was utterly hooked yet again. I know how difficult the spin off prequel/sequel can be. We only need to look at Joey to see that, but this feels in a different league. It's completely its own thing, a new beast and you get the sense everyone involved has worked hard and knows exactly the kind of story they want to tell. I'm so pleased I'm  in on the ground floor with this one, the only downside is I'm now forced to wait an agonising week for the next installment.

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