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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad Spinoff In The Works

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A Breaking Bad spinoff is in the works, which means that next season, we can anticipate a lot of spinoffs.

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According to TV Guide, the producers and Sony TV are working on a spinoff surrounding Bob Oderkirk’s overbearingly funny lawyer character, Saul Goodman. The concept of the new show is still in the works, but will be more comedic showing off Oderkirk’s talent (he wrote for SNL).

According to Rolling Stones, Oderkirk has been in talks with Breaking Bad writer, Vince Gilligan about the show, potentially titled ‘Better Call Saul’. Saul was added to the cast came to Breaking Bad as a guest starring role, but became a series regular by season 2.

Producers in the market lately have been trying to cash on the success of previous or current shows. With Breaking Bad coming to an end in the summer, their obviously going to want to keep the franchise alive as long as they can by adding a parent show; a spinoff. Is that necessarily a good thing? Many parent shows just don’t live up to the same success and appraise as their predecessors, but maybe spinning the show into a more comedic genre instead of drama will do just the trick to keep fans enticed?

 

 

 

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Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows. Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.

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Editorials

Let’s Discuss Better Call Saul Season 6 – The First Half

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Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is about to begin airing the second half of its final season. I originally intended to use the break as an opportunity to do an all-encompassing review piece on the first half of the season, and was initially excited to put my thoughts to words as I followed each episode week to week.

However, my excitement faded as I followed the social media chatter about the series. Part of what I love about live television is hopping online after the latest episodes and finding other enthusiasts to chat with. I learn a lot from these strangers; sometimes I don’t like a scene that they found engaging, and they help me see what I’m missing, or I find a line of dialogue inoffensive but through another’s perspective, learn that it could have been better. There are always those special episodes that everybody seems to come into agreement on, but on the average week, there are both good and bad things to be discussed.

The recent Better Call Saul discourse has not been like this, at least not from what I experienced for nearly two months. Instead of discussion, I mostly found an odd form of gatekeeping. If someone didn’t like how an episode played out or how a story was going, there seemed to be more attempts at proving the person wrong than there were attempts to see that other point of view and engage with it.

A large portion of the audience has been unsatisfied with some of this final season, and the overwhelming majority of replies I’ve seen has been unbecoming of genuine discussion. Instead, threads critiquing aspects of the show tend to follow with comments like this:

“Not every show needs explosions or action to be interesting.”

“The people complaining are the same people who binged through the show in two weeks so they could watch Better Call Saul cross over with Breaking Bad.”

“Not everyone has the attention span for Better Call Saul’s slower pace. It isn’t Breaking Bad, what did you expect?”

All three of the comments above refuse to engage with any actual criticism of the series. It’s all deflection and subtle jabs at the criticizer that they “just don’t get it.” I’ve been watching Better Call Saul from the beginning. I’ve routinely enjoyed it more than Breaking Bad precisely because of the way it uses relationships to push drama and not violence or explosions. “Chicanery” has stuck with me a good bit more than any Breaking Bad episode. But according to a large portion of Better Call Saul’s fanbase, my opinion can be dismissed because I think Better Call Saul Season 6 has terrible pacing.

Of course, not every discussion is like this, and sometimes if you scour the comments you’ll be able to come across a thread that actually engages with a criticism, but routinely the top comments, and even the top threads in general, reward dismissal of criticism. I’m not sure what has inspired this attitude towards dissenters, perhaps that’s research and an article for another time. Despite all of this, I’m hoping this article will encourage those who disagree with me to engage in a real discussion about both the flaws and successes of Season 6.

Now, time to dive into why Better Call Saul Season 6 has poor pacing.

What is pacing in storytelling? I like to think of pacing as “story momentum.” In general, pacing is a rollercoaster (a tired analogy but still a good one). You want a mix of ups and downs at the right places to maximize the emotional impact of your climax. Too many ups? The climax won’t feel strong enough or will get lost in the haze. Too many downs? The story may feel uneven when it suddenly reaches its climax, and the audience may not feel the story has “earned it.”

However, the rollercoaster ups DO NOT REPRESENT ACTION. They represent major story beats – plot reveals, character twists, emotional payoffs. The downs do not represent a lull in action; they represent areas of your story ripe for world building, exposition, and character development.

With this in mind, slow pacing is NOT poor pacing. I’ll repeat that periodically to try to cut off any reactionary retorts of “it doesn’t need explosions to be good, some of us LIKE taking time with the characters.” Slow paced shows can build tension and dread in unique ways, give us deeper insight into characters’ minds beyond their actions, and provide particularly powerful climaxes thanks to their careful approach to build up and anticipation. This does not, however, mean that every show (or every season) that utilizes a slow pace is automatically good. Season 6 of Better Call Saul, through its first seven episodes, in my opinion, has poor pacing. There are four areas in particular I want to explore to explain this perspective.

I’ll start with the simplest – Lalo Salamanca and Gus. Lalo’s storyline reaches a peak at the end of Season 5 after the Gus’ failed assassination attempt, and this new peak led to some real momentum for Lalo’s Season 6 storyline as he headed out to search for evidence against Gus. How would Lalo react to this new situation, and how will this betrayal affect him?

Lalo was absent from the following episode of the season, which I feel was a great storytelling choice because it let us see how Lalo’s mere continued existence affects Gus. Gus is on high alert, fearful that Lalo is coming after him, showing us a slightly different side of Gus, and this works. It provides a small lull from the momentum while keeping Lalo’s plot dangling in the mirror, giving the story a sense of weight and inevitability.

But then Lalo remains absent, and Gus remains fearful. There are no further character aspects being explored for several episodes.  This isn’t “slow pacing,” this is a halt. The rollercoaster has stopped because the characters have stopped. No progress is made in Gus’ or Lalo’s stories.

Some may say that Gus hiding a gun in the lab or Lalo discovering the lab’s existence is story progress, but I disagree – it’s plot. We already know Gus is paranoid and prepared, and while it is essential that we see Gus hiding the gun in the lab (or at least, I assume it’s essential, but only time will tell), it doesn’t actually move the story of Gus’ paranoia or fear forward. It’s not bad that we see this plot develop, but what did we learn about Gus through this plot that was new? Why couldn’t this have happened in the same timeframe that we saw Gus’ paranoia earlier in the season? Or perhaps an alternate version where we actually focus in on how Gus’ fear of Lalo is affecting his work at Los Pollos Hermanos, and therefore threatening his cover? That would have been something new, a new storyline that doesn’t move the plot forward at all, and would maintain the wonderful slow pace the show can excel at.

Lalo’s storyline suffers in the same way. When Lalo finally reappears in Germany, nothing new has been learned about him since he disappeared. The plot moves along and he finds a clue to lead him to the lab, but his interrogation of Werner’s man Casper? Absolutely useless in terms of the story. The audience gains nothing from seeing Lalo interact with Casper. The episode doesn’t even show the interrogation; the show just assumes in the next episode that the audience will believe Lalo got what information he needed – which already could have been assumed when Lalo found Werner’s ruler.

Perhaps one would argue that by showing Lalo’s journey, it legitimizes the lengths he’s willing to go to take down Gus, and it leaves us without the ability to question how he discovered the lab (remember when Bruce Wayne suddenly got back to Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises with no explanation and everyone talked about it for years?). Showing Lalo go after Casper avoids that pitfall. However, I disagree that this is necessary in this scenario. I’m happy to hear a counterpoint, but for me, the hunt for Casper is just an extra, action-packed episode of material that doesn’t materialize into something new, and to reiterate, pace-wise it doesn’t matter that Lalo gets an action scene here because action scenes are not necessarily story momentum. (Also, now that I’m thinking of it, Lalo totally pulls a Bruce Wayne and just randomly gets to Germany and back with no explanation as to how, so why is that information unnecessary but the Casper stuff is???).

Next is Mike, and this one is short and sweet. Why oh why oh why are we seeing Mike watch over his granddaughter and make small cutesy talk with her about stars? We have seen sweet scene after sweet scene of Mike and his family – is there really nothing else to this man? Why is this repeated? I wish the pace of Nacho’s storyline at the start of the season would have been slower, as extending his time even just one more episode might have provided Mike with a bit more to work with. Perhaps then we could have avoided this retread, as scenes that provide us information we already know halt the beautiful slow burn Better Call Saul has provided.

On the other hand, Howard’s scenes halt the momentum to show us information we DON’T need, and unnecessary information can be just as damaging to your pace as repeated information. When Howard’s wife snubs his crafted-with-love latte, I felt a huge wave of disappointment. All I saw from that scene was an over-the-top attempt at garnering Howard some sympathy before his demise. It was clear and shameless audience manipulation, and I am comfortable committing to this stance because of the lack of context. We don’t actually know enough about Howard’s situation for this sympathy to be gained naturally, so the scene has to go out of its way to tell us how we should feel. Howard’s wife snubs him, but what if Howard was a huge jerk to her? What if she is dismissing him this way because of something awful she did? How can I feel bad for Howard without knowing what exactly happened?

This took me out of the story because the scene was so meticulously designed to garner sympathy for the man without doing any of the real work to set Howard up to earn it in this context. Howard has earned enough sympathy through the rest of the show already – we don’t NEED more, and if the writers felt Howard needed more then they should have worked Howard’s personal life into the story more naturally in the past. Remember when Howard was devastated from Chuck’s death in Season 4? That was great! New facets of the man were revealed while complicating his relationship with Jimmy. It pushed him forward to make specific decisions, and continues to influence his perspective on things (even being alluded to in his final scene). Does the reveal of a failing marriage do any of that for Howard? What does it accomplish?

What particularly bothers me about this is that the show had a perfect opportunity to have its cake and eat it, too, without resorting to blatant audience manipulation. Part of what makes Howard’s demise so harsh and affecting is Jimmy and Kim’s lack of foresight. They never considered anything beyond their personal perspective regarding Howard, and I feel the reveal would have worked much better (and more naturally) if we learned about his marriage issues at the same time Jimmy and Kim did. Giving the audience secret insight into Howard’s life that Jimmy and Kim didn’t have undercut the moment he told them, because we can’t react alongside Jimmy and Kim. We also would only have had Howard’s perspective to rely on, with no risk of being influenced by a wife who is so incredibly detached from her husband that the only explanations are that she’s totally heartless or Howard did something to deserve it.

Perhaps she’ll be important moving forward, and the real purpose of the scene was to establish that Howard’s wife now knows about Jimmy’s involvement, but throwing this scene in just for sympathy and establishing future plot-points is closer to strapping on the seatbelt than it is to moving smoothly around a couple of turns. It’s clunky, and while potentially establishing plot, the scene of Howard’s failing marriage does nothing to change his character and does little to shift audience perspective of him in a way that couldn’t have been accomplished just as effectively, if not more effectively, with less scenes dedicated to it. And who knows, maybe those scenes could have been used to give Mike a slow, character based scene that doesn’t involve loving his granddaughter.

And finally…the scheme. The plot of Jimmy and Kim’s scheme is fine (if personally a bit uninteresting to me, which isn’t a flaw), but the execution fails in two ways that hurt the pace of the season.

First, and a clear running theme of the season – Jimmy and Kim do not develop much as characters during each of the meticulous steps of the scheme that we see. Sometimes a lack of development can be good pacing, such as in Season 4, where Jimmy’s lack of development is the point of the story. That isn’t the point of the Season 6 story, though, and Jimmy and Kim’s characters stand still for multiple episodes while the scheme is being put into action. For those who feel that seeing all of these actions take place over multiple episodes (instead of one or two) serves the story, I ask which parts of these characters changed or grew during these scenes? What character attributes that may be examined moving forward (such as their arrogance) are being reinforced in a way that could only be achieved by seeing so many steps over so many episodes?

Second, the scheme is hidden from the audience. I can see why this decision was made, particularly after hearing from those involved with the show that they feel, “[If the plan goes wrong, you should explain it first. If it goes right, you don’t need to.]” I agree with this theory to an extent, but each story is different and requires different approaches. In this case, because the scheme against Howard lasts for so long, the lack of information ends up creating a lack of tension, and tension is particularly important to maintain when telling a slow-burn story like this.

If we don’t know what the plan is, we don’t know what needs to go right nor what can go wrong. This can be fun and beneficial at first, as trying to get the audience to piece together the scheme is a great way to increase engagement. Personally, I’ve never been all that into figuring out plots like this, as I’m more interested in how plots affect the people involved. Not knowing what can go wrong leaves me guessing at what’s happening instead of feeling dread or panic with the characters, and as the story continues with no clear sense of stakes, trying to piece the puzzle together just isn’t enough. Eventually, it passes the point of intrigue in not knowing what can go wrong because we don’t even know what happens when things go wrong. What will the consequences to Jimmy and Kim be if they fail? Will they end up in prison? Get someone hurt? What are the stakes? Without these stakes, there is little story within this plot. We have Jimmy reluctantly asking Kim about the plan, Kim’s amazing question to Jimmy, “You think we’re wicked?”and then a long halt before Kim eventually turns her car around.

And Kim turning around and abandoning all pretenses that she’s doing any of this for the greater good – excellent. Kim and Jimmy literally getting off to Howard’s demise (one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen) – excellent. The result of this scheme is one of my favorite stories the series has ever told, and it seems most fans agree. In fact, I saw a ton of posts from both sides praising the climax of the story.

And yet, of course, I saw lots of posts about how all the naysayers were wrong and this is what happens when you trust the show. I disagree. Better Call Saul did not justify its pacing choices with the the mid-season finale, and therefore, the pacing issues in the first half of the season remain. How you get somewhere matters just as much as where you end up, and I fully believe the first six episodes could have built to this climax even better than it did.

Not everyone agrees, but a lot of people do; many who are fans of the slow-paced, character based show that is Better Call Saul and are trying to hold the series up to the standards they personally feel it isn’t meeting. The first half of Season 6 is poorly paced. Disagree with me, argue with me, and let’s discuss, because I love Better Call Saul.

 

(P.S. Despite the disappointing discussion surrounding Better Call Saul, the memes have been absolutely top tier. I haven’t seen so many creative and uniquely specific killer jokes about a series since the 00’s.)

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Coffee Table News

Biggest Twist Of All? Walter White Not Dead?

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Breaking Bad’s Walter White was known for getting himself out of tough, almost impossible, and totally hopeless situations. But could it be that he actually cheated death? Bryan Cranton says, “maybe.” *Mind= exploding*

Cranston is not ruling out a Breaking Bad sequel and neither should you! In fact, the actor teased about the possibility (or dropped a major hint/spoiler) while promoting his new action flick, Godzilla.

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He told CNN host Ashleigh Banfield might have lived through the moment that most people thought were his final moments.

We all saw White fall to the ground as police shot at him right? Right! But Cranston admits that there a slight chance that the chemistry teacher turned meth maker survived.

“You never saw a bag zip up or anything, or say you know,” he admitted, When Banfield asked if we would ever see Walter White again in a series or movie, he replied smiling. “Never say never.”

Fan’s went wild with hope that their favorite show might once again return. Is he really hinting at more episodes in the future? Was the series never really over? Did we all have a major freak out for nothing?!?! Cranston has kept busy since the finale in 2013, but you can tune into a new series, Better Call Soul, featuring criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. The shows creator, Vince Gilligan has hinted that some Breaking Bad characters will make cameos, which mean hope is still there for Heinsberg!!!  Maybe that was the hint?!

What do you think? Would you want more Breaking Bad? Are you happy with how the show ended? Sound off below and let us know your thoughts!!!

Photo:AMC/Breaking Bad 

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