I was resistant to Better Call Saul even though I am its primary demographic: I loved Breaking Bad and loved the character Saul. I just didn’t feel compelled to return to that universe. But the good news is that Better Call Saul is not really the same universe as BB. It is a quieter, funnier universe where Saul (who is not Saul yet, but Jimmy) is neither anti-hero nor road meat for bad guys. Except for the second episode of the first season, where they play around with the violence and tension of BB, the whole show is pretty stress free.
The show’s primary theme is fresh and totally quotidian: what does it mean to be good at something? What is a vocation? Jimmy is a late-in-life lawyer who knows really good fancy lawyers (his brother and girlfriend). Compared to their glossy lifestyle, his law degree from American University of Somoa will always seem inadequate. But the show also demonstrates (rather than tells) that Jimmy is a really good lawyer. I love shows/movies where you get to think about why someone is good at their job, and despite not being a traditional law procedural, BCS kind of borrows from The Good Wife part of the TV universe by taking us through the mechanics of a case one revelation at a time.
Secondly, the show is different from BB because we are allowed to fall in love with its hero. And I don’t just mean root for him. BCS is kind of a study in Bob Odinkirk’s sexiness, which is surprising since the entire comedy of his character on BB was his slovenly loserness. But on BCS Odinkirk glows with sharp intellect and charismatic charm. Who knew that Bob Odinkirk’s eye-crinkles could carry a show?