Breaking Bad was one of the greatest and most popular TV series of the 21st century According to this study people lie about seeing cause they’re so fed up of being told to do so.
When it’s season finale aired in 2013 there was a void in many people’s lives. So, there was a collective cheer of excitement when it was announced there would be a spin off.
Instead of it being a sequel, like Frasier or Joey it was going to be a prequel, following the lawyer of questionable morals Saul Goodman.
I must admit whilst I did love Saul in the show, I was really dubious as to whether he would be strong enough to give an origin story to. Imagining a ‘case of the week’ type plot with a bit of overarching story thrown in. Somewhat similar to Buffy and co.
Boy was I wrong.
BCS has proven itself to be an amazing show worthy of accolades in it’s own right. Like Frasier before it BCS will be remembered on it’s own terms and not just as ‘that spin off from that other show’. The characters and riveting plot have made it a must see
On to the main question. Has it surpassed it’s predecessor?
Breaking Bad was highly praised at the time for it’s characters, especially the main character, Walter White. Over the course of the series’ five seasons we see Walter turn from mild mannered school chemistry teacher to ultimate drug lord.
It was seen as revolutionary for showing the evolution of a character into someone unrecognisable from the first episode.
However, I often felt that some of the secondary characters were kind of forgotten about, the female characters, Skylar and Marie in particular felt a little underdeveloped. Even Walter’s right hand man Jesse could feel like he was flip flopping over what was happening to him at times.
Being a prequel for one of the smaller characters Better Call Saul had a lot of scope for creating all new characters, which it does with aplomb. We see Saul start out life as plain ol’ Jimmy McGill. A struggling lawyer practising out the back office of a beauty salon and taking care of his ill brother, Chuck.
BCS is much more character based rather than Breaking Bad. The venture with Netflix has given Vince Gilligan (both the series’ creator) more time to breath and to fully explore the characters without the network television constraints of ratings chasing.
Saul’s best friend (and lover), Kim is also a vast improvement on some of the female characters featured in Breaking Bad. Whilst sometimes it felt a little like the writers didn’t really know what to do with Skylar in Breaking Bad, Kim is as complex as they come, she can be unsure of her decisions, at the same time as being kind of a badass and sticking up for what she feels is right.
Furthermore, in Breaking Bad most of the characters are terrible people. This can make for some entertaining viewing you never truly love Walter, or Jesse, or even Saul at this point. BCS though makes you fall in love with Jimmy, he might be up to some dodgy dealings, but he has a heart of gold deep down and you’re with him every step of the way, cheering him on.
Breaking Bad was full of twists and turns. It kept us all on the edge of our seats for five whole seasons. It was gripping from start to finish. It was great at cliff hangers and always left you wanting more. You needed to know what happened.
Breaking Bad was one of the first series’ to make it big on Netflix, and was the king of ‘just one more episode before bed’ because you just couldn’t leave it not knowing how this week’s caper resolved itself.
BCS, whilst in keeping with a feel for it’s parent series is a very different kettle of fish in this regard. As I stated before this is a joint venture between AMC and Netflix, and I think it’s this partnership with Netflix that has really helped to make BCS what it is. As Netflix is a streaming service it doesn’t need to worry about ratings. This means that there are no mid-season opinion polls on what audiences want to see more of, no pressure from the Network to stick in as many short term hooks as possible. This has allowed to show to plant many more long term hooks that keep you coming back for more.
This means that BCS is a lot more slow paced, it really takes it’s time to reveal back-story and plot points, even the twists the plot takes can take a whole episode to reveal itself. It opens up so many questions and really takes it’s time to resolve them. It drip feeds you the information slowly, over the course of several episodes Allowing those characters to build up slowly, allowing the questions from episode one to linger on. At the start of each season there has been a black and white scene from clearly set post Breaking Bad, so from the go you’re invested in Jimmy.
I loved Breaking Bad, I was a little late to the game, only starting to watch just before the last series. Luckily this meant that I could binge watch it all and only had to endure the agony of waiting for the next week and the next fix of meth induced television.
BCS I have watched since the beginning, and despite the Netflix production it has only been put up one episode a week due to the collaboration with AMC, and the sweet agony of waiting for the next instalment has been there all along. For a generation that’s gotten used to just consuming entire seasons within a couple of days this takes some patience to get used to. It is, however worth every second of waiting to follow the adventures of Jimmy McGill.