Better Call Saul, the prequel spin-off to AMC’s Breaking Bad, aired a two-day premiere this week. Breaking Bad was not only known for domination over the Emmy’s and many other award shows but also for it’s loyal and cult following of viewers. You can find iconic Heisenberg t-shirts anywhere from Target to Hot Topic. So it’s no surprise that Better Call Saul raked in 6.9 millions viewers for the debut, making it the second most watched cable series debut of all time.
The new series is based on Saul Goodman, the lawyer to drug manufacturer, Walter White, and his life prior to getting involved in the drug world. With the cult popularity of Breaking Bad, AMC had no trouble wrangling in viewers for the series premiere. What they needed to focus on was getting people to come back. The first scene, set in black and white (a tactic Breaking Bad used to signify a scene in the future) shows Saul’s life-after-Heisenberg. Throughout the rest of the two-day premiere, there are key references to Breaking Bad that will make any fan excited and nostalgic. Bringing back characters from the original series makes watching Better Call Saul almost like seeing an old friend you didn’t know would be there.
Actor Raymond Cruz, who plays Tuco Salamanca, the irrational drug lord, appears the in first episode of Better Call Saul and plays a key role in Saul’s character development. But Tuco isn’t the same Tuco in Better Call Saul that we knew in Breaking Bad. Although he is still insane as ever, he is visibly more calm. Better Call Saul does this sort of reverse character development with Tuco, just like it does with Saul Goodman.
How Will It Keep Up the Pace?
No matter how different the writers make Better Call Saul, it will still have something big to live up to. it will still be constantly compared to it’s “big brother” of a TV show. The writers have instilled a sort of nostalgia in the viewers by bringing back some iconic character from Breaking Bad, but that is not enough to keep a show going. In TV history, spin-offs don’t usually sit well with viewers for various reasons, one of which is the constant comparison the the original series. So far, Better Call Saul has differentiated itself enough but not to the point where it isn’t reminiscent at all of Breaking Bad. They need to begin a new cult following. It should be interesting to see if Better Call Saul succeeds in the long run and will be back for multiple seasons. We will just have to wait!