Breaking Bad: Why I Won't Be Watching 'Better Call Saul'

Not everyone is happy that the Saul Goodman Breaking Bad spin-off trailer is here

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We already knew AMC had given Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan the green-light to produce a spin-off series revolving around sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman.

And now, there's a nine second teaser trailer doing the rounds, snatched from a commercial which aired in the US over the weekend, to make us all realise that it is a living, breathing, actuality.

The news seems to have been greeted with much delight, excitement and relief amongst BB’s frenzied fanbase, still coming to terms with the realisation that their favourite show is over, kaput, resigned to the television hall of fame. 

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Sure it's been a tough and emotional time since the show finished but I just can't join in the enthusiasm for the spin-off. I’m going to come out and say it: Saul Goodman is the only bum note, the only mis-step, the worst thing that ever happened to the best show on television*.

(* Since The Sopranos.)

I’m not saying this lightly, as some bandwagon jumper or casual passerby. I’ve got in neck deep on BB since I saw the insanely good Pilot. I did season 3 in one wide-eyed weekend, I've seen Hank v The Cousins more times than my own wedding album, I’ve subscribed to the episode by episode Breaking Bad podcast since it began. And, yes, I have a Heisenberg mug.

I’ve given. And BB has repaid me in barrel loads of nostalgic TV moments.

Which is why I need to come out and say it, to scratch the itch that Vince Gilligan started when he introduced Saul Goodman for 'comic effect' in season 2. 

"Another favourite moment was bringing the world Saul Goodman," he told Empire. "Saul is one of my favourite characters. The first scene, where Saul comes in to meet his new client Badger Mayhew and basically spends five minutes talking about what kind of billing procedure they were going to use – he’ll take cash, he’ll take a money order, but he doesn't take American Express – that still makes me smile. I love that scene."

Vince Gilligan is a genius, no doubt. But drama, not comedy, is his forte and Saul's student comedy night turn is evidence of this. Gilligan finds his own creation just a little too funny for comfort.

With his bad wig, Bluetooth headseat, and dressing up box suits, he’s a cartoon in a programme awash with deep, expertly-drawn and subtly played character studies. A one joke cameo better suited to a cut scene on Grand Theft Auto.

I know the arguments – Saul is Breaking Bad’s exhale of breath. Amidst all the guns and hurt and anxiety and death, here is some light relief. But the beauty and genius of BB is how it takes a ridiculously far-fetched concept and makes it believable, pulling you in with every incremental and believable step.

Saul’s every appearance on screen is a jolt back to the realization that this is all just make-believe.

Of course if anyone can make the spin-off work it’s Gilligan. But for every Frasier (the most interesting, nuanced character in Cheers), there's a Joey (the Friends equivalent of Saul - superficially funny, but nothing in the well). And I worry Better Call Saul has all the hallmarks of going the same way, an ill-judged attempt to cash in on something very special.

In a way it’s nice to know the BB candle will still burn after the final episodes are played out. But I’ll be making the cut clean and remembering the good times.