The wildly successful Better Call Saul, which documents the pre-Breaking Bad days of Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman), Mike Ehrmentrout, and Gus Fring, has become a staple of many dish customers’ regular viewing schedule.
Better Call Saul is so highly regarded, in fact, that it recently scored a dazzling 99% score from critics and 97% score from viewers, respectively, on the Rotten Tomatoes platform.
What is it about Better Call Saul that makes it such a successful spin-off in a television world that has seen countless failures of new shows spun off from high-profile originals, such as the ill-fated Joey series that featured Matt LeBlanc’s beloved character from the Friends sitcom franchise. Despite a massive investment form the studio and the audience’s enduring love for Joey, the show flopped and was canceled after two miserable seasons.
Better Call Saul, on the other hand, has done a masterful job of recasting Saul’s life before meeting Walter White. Together we witness the character evolutions of not just Saul but also Mike, Gus, and new characters that we never met in Breaking Bad like Kim Wexler and Nacho Varga.
An Unlikely Prequel to Breaking Bad
The many fans who Saul Goodman entertained with his outrageous legal antics in Breaking Bad were understandably unsure about what a series with Saul as the main character would look like.
The confusion of Jimmy’s character trajectory was understandable. In Breaking Bad, Saul was a static character, not changing from season to season in terms of motivation, habits, of behaviors. In that series, as many critics have noted, he served largely as comic relief, appearing on scenes with his rapid-fire legal quips and colorful expressions, as when he suggested sending Jesse on a “trip to Belize,” a euphemism for murder.
In Better Call Saul, though, we see what Saul looked like before he became Saul Goodman, from his humble roots in the basement of a busy law firm that he never had any real hope of succeeding in.
In the fifth and final season, the metamorphosis of Jimmy into Saul is nearly complete. With each episode, we come closer to truly understanding what made Saul the man he ultimately became in Breaking Bad.
Mastering the Art of the Prequel
One of the more adventurous creative endeavors of creator Vince Gilligan and company is the almost unprecedented use of a spin-off series that takes place not after but before the main show’s events.
In Breaking Bad, we follow Jimmy McGill, slowly morphing into his alter-ego Saul Goodman as the series progresses, as he goes down the same type of transformative rabbit hole that we follow Walter White into in the Breaking Bad Series.
Critics have noted the ingenious approaches that the writing crew has taken to telling the iconic Breaking Bad characters’ story in such a rich and compelling way, despite us knowing their ultimate fates.
Mike is destined to be shot by Walter White in a cash exchange gone wrong, Gus will later be blown up in a nursing home by the same protagonist, and Saul will disappear into obscurity with the help of the Albuquerque “vacuum salesman” who specializes in identity fraud on the side.
How to Tune in with Dish
Better Call Saul has aired at 9 p.m. EST every Monday since February on AMC. Dish customers can find AMC on channel 131.
The show is also available on Netflix.