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New on streaming: 'Better Call Saul'

If you are a fan of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and haven’t yet ventured into the critically acclaimed spin-off show “Better Call Saul” (created by Vince Gillian and Peter Gould), now is the time to catch up. With three seasons under its belt and the fourth having just started on AMC, the show surely has cemented itself as a force of its own.

What’s that? You won’t watch it because you’re afraid you will be lost since you never watched “Breaking Bad”? Never fear. The show is both tied to its predecessor and stands on its own merits by maintaining both a past and a future that goes well beyond the story lines of “Breaking Bad.”

Many episodes start in short black and white vignettes hinting to a future that seems sad and broken for the primary character of Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk). The build of tension in the series is slow but very entertaining.

In “Breaking Bad,” we are introduced to the conveniently morally ambiguous character of Saul Goodman in his garish law office — complete with fake pillars and a literal constitutional backdrop in a run-down strip mall. The character was so well-liked by fans that the spin-off series was assured.

But why the name-change from Saul to Jimmy, or in this case the reverse, and how? In the first few episodes we learn the name “Saul Goodman” is a go-to alias for Jimmy as a conman before he becomes a lawyer, earned through the University of American Samoa. In the back alley behind a bar with a friend, Jimmy plans for his next con and says, “It’s all good man, you know? Like Saul Goodman.”

For those who love the tie-ins, this coming season on AMC is particularly promising as the primary antagonist, Gustavo Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito), gives us the answers for Saul’s involvement with the fast-food-entrepreneur-turned-drug-dealer-of-the-century. The tie-ins from Breaking Bad are ridiculously well thought out and extraordinarily subtle (they are careful to not only use locations and scenes from the other show but also pay attention to vehicles and clothing).

The cast is an actor’s playground with so many talented individuals, like the return of Jonathan Banks or new characters played by Patrick Fabian, Rhea Seehorn and the incredible Michael McKean. The show offers both the old favorite characters along with new ones, including the most exceptional character of Jimmy’s brother (played by McKean), a high-powered lawyer who combats his allergy to electricity with shiny thermal blankets. Yes, you read that right.

If you need to catch up or just want to enjoy the series all over again “Better Call Saul” is available on Netflix now. If not, it’s all good man.

FACT BOX:

Available on Netflix
Produced by High Bridge Productions for AMC
Crime, Drama
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Micheal McKean, and Jonathan Banks

“Casual,” Season 3:
Available now exclusively on Hulu
Starring: Michaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, and Tara Lynne Barr
A new comedy series about a bachelor brother, Alex, living again under one roof with his newly divorced sister, Valerie — a single mother. They help each other through the world of crazy dating while raising her teenage daughter, Laura.

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