New series breaks cable records

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Having just finished the epic saga of Walter White, the next logical venture was “Better Call Saul.” This “Breaking Bad” spinoff series shattered cable ratings records two weeks in a row in demographics: adults 25-54 and Live +3.

The show has been called the prequel to “Breaking Bad,” but the first episode seems to pick up where “Breaking Bad” left off.

Saul Goodman is doing exactly what he told Walter White he had hoped for in the second to last episode, working in a Cinnabon. A strange aspiration, but if you know the story of the meth-making saga, you understand.

The now balding Cinnabon manager goes home to his modest house, pops in a VHS of his old TV commercials and the real story begins.

The character flashes back to his life before “Breaking Bad.” In every new facet of his life we see that he has it hard. And now our beloved character goes by possibly his given name, James M. McGill.

McGill keeps the company of some strange associates. He lives with his brother Chuck, who evidently has an aversion to electromagnetism and lives in his house without any electricity. Gas wick lamps are used to dimly light the man’s large house. Cell phones, watches and wallets are kept outside in the mail box and all guests are asked to “ground” themselves — remove any electrical charge — before they come in.

Aside from the seriously disturbed house-mate of McGill’s, the writer Vince Gilligan has fun plugging in all of the characters who have died throughout “Breaking Bad” in this new series in very unexpected places.

We’ve already established that Saul, as he’s known later in his life, faces problem after problem, which would seemingly set up for a sort of drama.

However, “Better Call Saul” is no “Grey’s Anatomy.” Instead the show is witty and ironically funny with both cunning and crude humor.

The suspense is similar to that of the show’s predecessor, without such serious subject matter — at least so far.

The first episode is an introduction into his life. The audience sees that the Cinnabon manager was once a lawyer, struggling to make ends meet, getting jobs as a public defender for necrophiliacs.

We meet a firm of successful lawyers, Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, and begin to wonder why a poor public defender is so close with Albuquerque’s finest attorneys, and yet maintains his office in the boiler room of a Chinese nail salon, complete with pull-out couch.

The second episode starts the action. It is perhaps the first time that McGill has found himself in serious, life-threatening danger.

In an attempt to slime his way into getting a job representing a couple of embezzlers, he ends up face to face with one very irrational and extremely dangerous Tuco Salamanca.

Thus far, the show indicates nothing that would spoil the plot for those who have not yet seen “Breaking Bad” — those very, very few people who have evidently been living under a Netflix-hating rock for the last two years.

At any rate their souls are spared, because Gilligan has created a stand-alone story about the life of one mysteriously troubled man.

 

BRIANNA WOODS

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