It probably won’t be long before we all start to go through serious Breaking Bad withdrawal. Oh, sure, the series wrapped up months ago, but the satisfaction of a drama well concluded will eventually wear off and those of us who anticipated the series’ return each year will find ourselves reminding ourselves that Breaking Bad isn’t coming back this year. On the bright side, there is Better Call Saul to anticipate. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan had some vague but interesting things to say about the spinoff project, which will come from writer Peter Gould and center on Bob Odenkirk’s character Saul Goodman.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Vince Gilligan has mastered the art of discussing TV shows while treading right to the edge of spoiler territory without actually crossing the line. That applies to the interview he recently did with Entertainment Weekly, during which he discussed Better Call Saul, AMC’s planned Breaking Bad spinoff, which Gilligan says will be a “different kind of show.” He also discusses the drama involved in comedy, and offers some vague clues about the timeline of the series, which could offer both past and future looks at the morally-challenged attorney Saul Goodman.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
We think, by and large, this show will be a prequel, but the wonderful thing about the fractured chronology we employed on Breaking Bad for many years is the audience will not be thrown by us jumping around in time. So it’s possible that we may indeed do that, and we’ll see the past and perhaps the future. Nothing is written in stone yet, we’re still figuring it out, but the thing we realize is tricky with the character is that Saul Goodman is very comfortable in his own skin. He seems to be a character who is pretty happy with himself, especially when we first meet him. He seems to be a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, and that makes him everything that Walter White is not. And that also makes for tricky drama. When I say drama, even in a comedy, you want drama, you want tension and conflict, and a character that at heart seems at peace with himself is intrinsically undramatic. [Laughs] So we’ve been thinking about how to address that issue.
When EW asked if any of the action would be set in “the Breaking Bad era,” Gilligan was vague but indicated that the possibility exists, saying, “Anything is possible, and I can’t make any promises that we will indeed see that kind of stuff, but I can tell you from a writer’s point of view, it’s very freeing and emboldening to have those opportunities available to you.”
He goes on to suggest Jonathan Banks as a possible candidate in terms of potential returning Breaking Bad stars. Banks played Mike in the series, a known associate of Saul Goodman. Gilligan goes on to speak theoretically about other characters dropping by, but notes the obvious availability issues that are likely to play a factor among the Breaking Bad actors, who’ve moved on to other projects.
And finally, from this last comment, it seems like the aim of the series isn’t to simply extend Breaking Bad, as Gilligan talks about Better Call Saul being its own kind of show, apart from Breaking Bad…
I’ve always loved the character Saul Goodman, I’ve always felt like there’s a whole world of story possibilities contained within him and the world that he inhabits, and I would just love to see some version of this world continue. By its very design, Better Call Saul has to be a different kind of show, and we’re not looking to simply keep Breaking Bad going by having a spin-off series. It has to stand on its own two legs as its own series, otherwise there’s no point in doing it. It will be Saul Goodman’s world, it won’t be Walter White’s, and it will have a different feel, even though there will be some overlap on the Venn Diagram that exists between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. But it will have to succeed on its own terms as its own show. If it doesn’t, it won’t be satisfying, and satisfaction is the key word. We want to satisfy.
I think just the fact that comically-inclined actor Bob Odenkirk is headlining Better Call Saul — factoring in Saul’s comical character nature as well — is an obvious indication that the tone of this new series will be more humorous than Breaking Bad, and could veer far enough away from the origin series’ premise enough that we might even eventually forget to make the connection between the two shows, in time. With that said, I’ll be curious to see how this series is initially received when it debuts, especially if any notable percentage of viewers tune in expecting a new Breaking Bad and find something different instead.
AMC hasn’t set a date for Better Call Saul yet, but we do know that Netflix called dibs on the streaming syndication in the U.S. and other countries.