Overview

Better Call Saul is a crime drama television series developed by Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan. It serves as a spin-off and prequel to the popular Breaking Bad series, also developed by Gilligan. The series is set in the 2000s and tells the story of Jimmy McGill, a lawyer in the little leagues who was previously working as a con man. It follows his development into the persona of Saul Goodman, a criminal mercenary. On February 8, 2015, Better Call Saul began airing on AMC. To date, five seasons have aired. In 2021, the sixth and last season is scheduled to air (at the time of writing).

Premise

Jimmy McGill works as a lawyer for very little money, operating out of a nail salon which serves as both his office and his home. Kim Wexler, Jimmy’s romantic interest and friend, is a lawyer for the law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM). Both Jimmy and Kim used to work in the mailroom of the law firm for which she is now a lawyer. Howard Hamlin, Jimmy’s nemesis, and Chuck McGill, Jimmy’s brother, are the HHM partners.

A former police officer named Mike Ehrmantraut runs an unlawful drug distribution setup along with Nacho Varga. He later becomes the right-hand man for Gus Fring, a drug lord. Jimmy becomes Mike’s lawyer. The drug distribution operation is frequently interrupted by Lalo Salamanca of the Salamanca crime family.

Jimmy begins the series attempting to become a lawyer who is respectable in order to repudiate his conman past. But over the course of the series, he eventually transforms into the persona of Saul Goodman, a criminal lawyer.

Characters seen in Breaking Bad reprise their roles in Better Call Saul.

Cast and characters

The major cast and characters seen in Better Call Saul are:

  •  Jimmy McGill – Bob Odenkirk
  •  Mike Ehrmantraut – Jonathan Banks
  •  Kim Wexler – Rhea Seehorn
  •  Howard Hamlin – Patrick Fabian
  •  Nacho Varga – Michael Mando
  •  Chuck McGill – Michael McKean
  •  Gus Fring – Giancarlo Esposito
  •  Stacey Ehrmantraut – Kerry Condon
  •  Hector Salamanca – Mark Margolis
  •  Paige Novick – Cara Pifko
  •  Victor – Jeremiah Bitsui
  •  Lalo Salamanca – Tony Dalton

Filming locations

Better Call Saul is primarily set and filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and its surrounding locations.

Notable locations include Twisters – the restaurant previously used in Breaking Bad for the Los Pollos Hermanos setup belonging to Gus – the Albuquerque Convention Center parking lot kiosk and the Old Bernalillo County Courthouse.

Other locations include two North Valley office buildings which depict the HHM office spaces. The nail salon out of which Jimmy works is an actual nail salon.

Production

Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan started to plan a television series spinoff based on Breaking Bad in 2009. Gilligan asked the actor who plays Saul Goodman, Bob Odenkirk, his thoughts on a spinoff of the Breaking Bad series as he was filming the episode “Full Measure” for Breaking Bad.

Gilligan spoke of a possible spinoff for Goodman in July 2012, saying that he was interested in “the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law”, such as settling a case on the steps of the courthouse. When he appeared on the aftershow Talking Bad, Odenkirk stated that Goodman was one of the show’s most popular characters. Gilligan saw several ways to develop and explore Saul’s character further as he grew on the Breaking Bad show.

Episodes and reception

Better Call Saul has thus far aired five seasons, with a sixth season (the final season) set to be released in 2021 (at the time of writing). Each of the seasons comprises 10 episodes, which means that 50 episodes of Better Call Saul have aired so far. The sixth season will consist of 13 episodes, unlike the five previous seasons.

Critical response

The show has garnered widespread critical acclaim. It is seen as a primary example of a spinoff and prequel which far exceeds the expectations set by its predecessor. Better Call Saul uses slow pacing on purpose in order to focus on character development instead of attempting to rush to match the Breaking Bad plot.

The first season of Better Call Saul was well received. It gained a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a Metacritic score of 78 out of 100.

The second season of Better Call Saul was met with universal critical acclaim. It received a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a Metacritic score of 85 out of 100.

The third season of Better Call Saul was also met with universal critical acclaim. It received a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a Metacritic score of 87 out of 100.

The fourth season of Better Call Saul received similar treatment. It landed a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a Metacritic score of 87 out of 100.

The fifth season of Better Call Saul kept up its positive reputation. It received a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a Metacritic score of 92 out of 100.

Better Call Saul has received a wide variety of awards and nominations, including a Peabody Award, eleven Writers Guild of America Awards, 23 Primetime Emmy Awards, five Critics’ Choice Television Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

When the Better Call Saul premiere aired, it broke the record as the most highly rated scripted series premiere in the history of basic cable.

For more drama, check out our review of The Ranch or read about the Justin Bieber YouTube series Seasons.

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