Better Call Saul 2 starts February

The brilliant Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul returns to Netflix next month (Feb 15 in the US, the next day in all other territories). In the first series of creator Vince Gilligan’s drama we saw Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman (the excellent Bob Odenkirk), attempt to build a relationship with his lawyer brother Chuck (Michael McKean), whom he looks up to, only to be badly betrayed. Is Saul now about to break bad himself?

Bob Odenkirk in AMC's second season of Better Call Saul

Legal high: Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul 2

The trailer above hints that that may be the case. Part of the joy of the first series was getting reacquainted with old faces such as Mike Ehrmantraut (what a terrific actor Jonathan Banks turned out to be) and chilling figures, such as Tuco (Raymond Cruz). While Better Call Saul – which is made by AMC in the States – is compelling as a dark and gripping drama in its own right, Breaking Bad fans will be interested to hear that Aaron Paul, who play Jesse in BB, has been hinting again this month that he may making a cameo in Saul. ‘Hopefully, I will be involved,’ he said. ‘But I don’t know when that will be. I’m not going to say anything more, but I’m absolutely open to the idea. Hopefully, it happens.’ Meanwhile, anyone hoping to binge on Saul will have to pace themselves. It’s being shown the old-fashioned way – in 10 weekly instalments.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut in AMC's Better Call Saul 2

Mean streets: Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut

Better Call Saul — Killer TV No 26

HERE’S the latest in our series of Killer 50 crime dramas…

AMC, 2015–

‘Let’s just say I know a guy… who knows a guy… who knows another guy.’  – Jimmy McGill aka Saul Goodman

Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Michael Mando

Identikit: the Breaking Bad prequel/spinoff following the early years of conman-turned-lawyer Jimmy McGill


 

logosWHO WOULD have thought writer-producer-director Vince Gilligan could have created a second richly rewarding series when he spun-off this drama from Breaking Bad, following the latter’s finale in 2013? The idea of a new show based on BB‘s shyster lawyer Saul Goodman, a bit of light relief amid Walter White’s mayhem in the original, seemed to promise little more than a diverting sitcom about the scamster’s courtroom shenanigans and chintzy lifestyle. But Better Call Saul actually delivered a whole lot more – thrills, laughs and pathos. Gilligan explored the hinterland of this supporting character and came up with a superb drama in its own right. For starters, Saul Goodman was, you will remember, a name adopted because the guy sensed clients would prefer a Jewish lawyer. We find out how he went from being Jimmy McGill, or conman ‘Slippin’ Jimmy’ of Cicero, Illinois, to a qualified lawyer in Albuquerque, eventually handling Walter and Jesse Pinkman. This is all set in 2002, six years before BB. Along the way are frightening moments as we renew acquaintances with nutters such as Tuco (Michael Mando), find out that Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonanthan Banks returns to the role) had his reasons, and meet Jimmy’s mentor and brother, Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). This relationship is the emotional heart of the story, and it’s a heartbreaker that makes Jimmy’s propensity to break bad himself seem most understandable. Vince Gilligan again shows his eye for the dark and surreal details amid the everyday and conjures up scenes of blinding tension. And at its heart, Bob Odenkirk proves himself a compelling leading actor in a difficult role demanding a performance that switches from slick and funny to vulnerable in quick succession. It was nominated for seven Emmys, and picked up two Critics’ Choice Awards (Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks). It will be returning for a second series in February 2016.

Classic episode: A standout is Five-O (episode 6), which actually focuses on Mike Ehrmantraut, showing him to be a hardcase with a heart, as well as revealing Jonathan Banks’s secret side as a bloody good actor.

Watercooler fact: Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman in BB) was in ‘serious talks’ about an appearance in Better Call Saul, but this all came to nothing.

Fargo with Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman coming to C4

FOX TV’s new series version of the Coen brother’s classic crime-gone-wrong movie Fargo will hit Channel 4 in the UK soon after it goes out in the US in April.

The 10-parter stars Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa, Friday Night Lights) as Lorne Malvo, a rootless, manipulative type who derails the life of insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman.

The 1996 original, starring Steve Buscemi, William H Macy and Frances McDormand, was a typically offbeat Coen creation, darkly humorous and grim in places. The series will feature an all-new ‘true crime’ story (the original had this label, but was actually based on ‘true’ events from several cases).

Colin Hanks (Dexter, Parkland) plays Duluth Police Deputy Gus Grimly, a single dad who must choose between his own personal safety and his duty as a police officer when he comes face-to-face with a killer. Rounding out Fargo’s cast of recurring characters is Emmy-winner Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad), who plays Deputy Bill Olson.

Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men, A Serious Man, True Grit) are among the exec producers.

Channel 4 Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt says, ‘Fargo is a perfect Channel 4 show – a dark comedy, beautifully directed with a stunning cast. We are excited to be bringing it to a British audience.’

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