MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., March 27, 2015 – While we wait for the beginning of the new Game of Thrones, other shows have more than filled the vacuum. Most of the hoopla has focused on “The Walking Dead,” “The Black List,” “Dig” and others.
While those shows are all good, the best show of the late winter/early spring has been “Better Call Saul.”
The show is a prequel to the mega hit “Breaking Bad.” Two of the most interesting characters from “Bad” take center stage: Saul, whose real name is Jim ‘Jimmy’ McGill (Bob Odenkirk), and Mike Ehrmantrout (Jonathan Banks), the hit man/fixer (a la “Pulp Fiction”).
Jim is portrayed as a small-time ambulance chaser. As the series progresses, we are given tantalizing looks at what he is all about. His brother, played by Michael McKean of “Laverne and Shirley” fame and “Jeopardy” champion, hides in his house with all electronics turned off. He was previously a top lawyer who developed a phobia about all types of radiation. He covers himself with a space blanket to protect/recover from any accidental exposure.
Jim is trying to get him to call in his partnership in a law firm Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill worth millions of dollars. The firm treats Jim as a low-level pest.
Jim had worked at the firm Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill as a mail clerk, and we learn through flashbacks that he had received his law degree and passed the bar. When he presents his accomplishments to his boss, he is told that he would have to wait for a real lawyer’s job.
The first 10 episodes will end in a couple of weeks, but viewers can access the entire season via a number of streaming sites, including amctv.com.
What makes this show special is the attention to detail. The show does not try to over simplify the characters or the action, choosing instead for a logical, if sometimes gory narration. For example, Tuco, the psychotic drug dealer from “Bad” is introduced, and he is ready to kill Jim and two hapless teenagers because they disrespected his “abuelita” (grandmother). Jim and the two stooges get into this situation when trying to play a fake car accident scheme victimizing the older lady.
As in a Leonard Elmore novel, which this is not, the characters are all three-dimensional. They are not all bad or all good, at least most of them. Saul/Jimmy is more than willing to push the envelope and remain just inside the law. He also shows plenty of humanity when he is forced to do so.
When getting a will ready for an elderly client, she tells him that she had heard that all lawyers were crooks, he responds that only half, ‘… the other half are stupid.”
When he decides to practice elderly law after his fake rescue of a billboard sign worker, Jimmy fumbles into a class action suit. The last two episodes will deal with the resolution of this theme.
The episodes end too soon. You can expect some bang at the end of each that makes you want the week to be over. The show received the largest audience ever for a basic cable one. It airs on AMC at 10 p.m. (EDST) on Mondays.
Time for binge watching and waiting for next Monday’s episode.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a video/TV-logue. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).