ByCraig Whyel, writer at
Film & TV news, previews and commentary
Craig Whyel

Better Call Saul, now well into its debut season, is quickly and clearly poised for TV greatness. With many things going its way, here are five reasons why it will be the one of the best-ever TV spinoff:

On its way to history.
On its way to history.


The debut show drew nearly 7 million viewers, which made for the greatest ratings in cable TV history, according to The Wall Street Journal. Through the third episode, it dropped but managed to garner nearly 6 million live viewers, a considerable decline but still holding more than steady as reported.


The anti-hero idea served the producers well in their initial effort, Breaking Bad. A protagonist who can easily cross the line between good and bad seems highly intriguing to audiences.


Bob Odenkirk is first-rate as Saul Goodman slash Jimmy McGill. He has the character down perfectly, with the advantage of playing him in 43 episodes of Breaking Bad. Odenkirk, whose origins are in comic acting, can effortlessly play a scene for laughs or for drama-being subtle or over-the-top.

The same can be said for the quality supporting cast, especially Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, the ex-cop turned private investigator. Banks plays the dead-eyed stoic to the hilt. Always steeped in pragmatism, Mike never flinches.

New characters bring just as much intensity. Michael McKean, as Jimmy’s older brother Chuck, is excellent as a man brought down by his own neurosis. Relative newcomer Mike Mando plays criminal Nacho Varga with scene-stealing energy.


The writing is excellent. With many of the scriptwriters from the [Breaking Bad](series:200567) team, they have a honed sense of balancing the details of exposition with elements of drama and comedy. They also have the talent to bring together the considerable backstory that will eventually merge Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman. They easily manage to throw in swerve angles without losing focus on the bigger storyline elements.


The direction manages to adjust the energy level as needed. It’s accelerates Jimmy/Saul’s manic scramble to piece together a living with his near constant line crossing between running cons and moral outrage. Then, they can slow things down in quieter more personal moments to get a more human side of the characters.

In TV history, there are roughly twenty-five spin-off shows that have achieved varying levels of success. Conversely, there are at least three times as many spin-off shows that have failed miserably.

With a second season already in the works, Better Call Saul is easily positioned to join the top tier of spin-offs.


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