Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Is a Saul Goodman 'Breaking Bad' Spin-off Really a Good Idea?

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire April 10, 2013 at 12:50PM

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan has been tossing around the possibility of a spin-off series centered around Bob Odenkirk's shady lawyer Saul Goodman for a year now, ever since his landmark AMC drama entered into its end game.
1
(Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote/AMC (Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on 'Breaking Bad'

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan has been tossing around the possibility of a spin-off series centered around Bob Odenkirk's shady lawyer Saul Goodman for a year now, ever since his landmark AMC drama entered into its end game. "I can’t say that it is genuinely in the works at this moment," Gilligan told journalists at Comic-Con last year. "But certainly Bob Odenkirk and I have talked about it a little bit. As fan number one of this world, meaning the first one to partake of these plot moments and whatnot, I would love to see a good Saul Goodman show. I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law. He’ll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom. That would be fun -- I would like that."

While a Goodman spin-off is far from finalized, yesterday Deadline reported that it's also no longer just theoretical -- series producer Sony Television Studios and AMC are apparently in talks with Gilligan and series writer-producer Peter Gould, who scripted the season two episode "Better Call Saul," the one that introduced the character. Deadline's Nellie Andreeva writes that "I hear the potential spinoff is eyed as a comedy, which could be one-hour, but a half-hour format also is being explored."

Saul's value in the series has always been not just to provide comic relief, but also criminal expertise.

"Breaking Bad" has done such a tremendous job of building out its world of southwestern suburbs balanced atop a rotting foundation of meth manufacturing and abuse that it's understandably hard for both fans of the show and its creators to let it go, even as Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) story comes to a natural end. Walt's made his transformation from downtrodden sad sack to full-on villain, and it's looking like the final eight episodes will find his world blowing up just as he's decided to retire. Whether he dies or somehow walks away, there's no more stretching out of Walt's story, and it wouldn't make sense to spin out one following Jesse (Aaron Paul), given how bound up in Walt his narrative fundamentally is.

Abrasive, immoral, hilarious Saul, however, has a life outside of his Heisenberg account, one that includes multiple ex-wives, making wonderfully tacky ads and dealing with an array of other sketchy clients. But Saul's value in the series has always been not just to provide comic relief, but also criminal expertise -- like Mike Ehrmantraut (R.I.P., sniff), he's been amused, bewildered and financially supported by Walt and Jesse's unlikely rise to power and by their amateurish forays into narcotics, even as he's grown wary with them. The whole point of "Breaking Bad" has been the transformation of its hero into a genuine antihero, a competent, frightening drug kingpin. Saul's dirty deeds, while by no means cheaps, are not quite as serious -- but they're also consistent. How would he change?

The likely answer is, he wouldn't, not in the same way. A half-hour Saul comedy would be a legal sitcom, at least per Gilligan's description of the character scrambling to cut deals out of court. And while Gilligan and Gould are tremendously talented, it's hard not to think that the pleasure of Saul is in his context of the darker drama of "Breaking Bad." He's come in small doses, and he's the final representative of criminal competence to have witnessed the bulk of the Heisenberg empire building. It seems unlikely that Walt, Skyler (Anna Gunn) or Jesse would stop by to pay periodic visits (the live studio audience applauds!), so why keep this world going at all?

There are far more misses than hits in the history of the spin-off TV series -- for every "Laverne and Shirley" there's a dozen "Joanie Loves Chachi"s. And as critic James Poniewozik astutely pointed out on Twitter, what the proposed Saul Goodman series brings to mind foremost is the "X-Files" spin-off "The Lone Gunman," which centered around the quirky conspiracy theorist trio Mulder and Scully sometimes consulted in their cases. "The Lone Gunman" was co-created and executive produced by Gilligan and ran for a single season on Fox, where it elegantly demonstrated that lovable size characters do not always a solid show of their own make. It's possible there's a viable comedy to be found in Saul -- and certainly the character and Odenkirk's performance are great -- but it's all too easy to imagine one just running what was so endearing about the guy into the ground.

This article is related to: Television, TV Features, Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad, Bob Odenkirk






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More