Better Call Saul

Jacob Lewis/AMC

You might feel some apprehension about the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, but you know you’re going to watch it. When it finally arrives, that is. The show, which is to star Bob Odenkirk reprising his role as lawyer Saul Goodman, was supposed to debut on AMC this November. The bad news is that it’s been pushed back until early next year. The good news, though, is that the cable network is excited about what they’ve seen so far and have already renewed the series for a second season.

The first will be 10 episodes, and the second, arriving early 2016, will add another 13. Vince Gilligan is directing the pilot and will share showrunning duties with Peter Gould, who created Goodman as a Breaking Bad writer in season 2 (the character’s debut episode was also called “Better Caul Saul”). Michael McKean, who was so great recently on HBO’s canceled Family Tree is also in the cast as another lawyer, and Jonathan Banks is reprising his role as Mike Ehrmantraut. Yes, it’s a prequel series.

Anyone with doubts about the show might want to pay attention to the Odenkirk’s track record of late. It’s easy to do. Tonight, just after this news arrived via The Hollywood Reporter, two of the actor’s recent gigs received accolades via the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Airing for the first time on TV itself, the Critics’ Choice Television Awards honored Breaking Bad as Best Drama Series and Aaron Paul as Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The show, which ended last September, had also been nominated for Best Actor in a Drama Series, for Bryan Cranston, and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, for Anna Gunn.

Awards also went to the just-finished Fargo, in which Odenkirk played police chief Bill Oswalt. That won Best Mini-Series, Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series, for Billy Bob Thornton, and Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series, for breakout Allison Tollman. The 10-episode show, based on the Coen Brothers’ movie of the same name, was also nominated again in the Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series category, for Martin Freeman, and for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series, for Colin Hanks. Odenkirk wasn’t recognized for either program himself, but he at least comes off as being a good luck charm.

Not just that, but he’s an incredibly talented and magnetic performer in his own right. If you haven’t seen any of Fargo yet, you must — even if it could be hit and miss and ultimately disappointing, it was an immensely enjoyable run and Odenkirk in his minor part was always a terrific presence on screen. It’s going to be tough to go seven or eight months without getting to watch more of him, and the wait is only going to make us anticipate Better Call Saul more. It’ll be hard to let us down, as long as he’s at the center of it.


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