It was two years ago this month that Vince Gilligan first publicly mentioned the possibility of a Breaking Bad spinoff. Soon after, Better Call Saul was rumored, then announced, then delayed, then given a for-real premiere date in early 2015. And now we have actual plot details, as well as character names.
The series is set six years before Saul Goodman meets Walter White. When we meet him, the man who will become Saul Goodman is known as Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer searching for his destiny, and, more immediately, hustling to make ends meet. Working alongside, and, often, against Jimmy, is “fixer” Mike Ehrmantraut, a beloved character introduced in Breaking Bad. The series will track Jimmy’s transformation into Saul Goodman, the man who puts “criminal” in “Criminal lawyer.” The series’ tone is dramatic, woven with dark humor.
Better Call Saul? GIMME JIMMY. Beside Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, there’s also Michael McKean as Saul’s brother Chuck, Rhea Seehorn (Franklin & Bash) as Kim, Patrick Fabian (Grey’s Anatomy) as Hamlin, and Michael Mando (Orphan Black‘s Vic the Black) as Nacho. The wonderful Michelle MacLaren will also direct an episode. Here’s what else we learned from Gilligan and Peter Gould’s TCA panel:
-Better Call Saul is set in 2002 — six years before Saul meets Walter White in Breaking Bad. Funny enough, that the events in Breaking Bad starting in 2006 is also new information, Gilligan said, noting that the original show never specified what year it took place. “I hesitate to say it, but it is indeed a period piece,” Gilligan said.
-The show will not copy Breaking Bad’s neo-Western visual style. “Peter came with an idea book of frame grabs from classic movies, like The Conformist, we talked a lot about Kubrick,” Gilligan said. “We’re doing our damndest to make it as different as possible. It’s important that this not look like a carbon copy of Breaking Bad.”
-The reason Better Call Saul was pushed from fall to early 2015: “I am slow as mud as a TV writer,” Gilligan said. “We had a pace on Breaking Bad thanks to AMC that was deliciously stately…we have a way of doing things that’s slower than most TV shows…because we want to think everything through and we think that pays dividends.”
Oh, it’s a dark comedy with one-half of Mr. Show and David St. Hubbins? Yes, I think I’ll watch this.