Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Nellie Andreeva writes about the possibility of a Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul:
Read the full article here.
Only recently I completed the full series of Breaking Bad and, despite the high-quality of the series in comparison to many programmes, I think this latest piece of news shows that Breaking Bad is simply not of the same level as series such as The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men.
Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman, as Andreeva states, is the “comic relief” of the series and this is merely another example of the conventional TV series elements that ensure Breaking Bad, though ‘good’, will never become ‘great’. Entire series end on cliff-hangers and it is established early on that certain characters are invincible – destroying any tension that you may have initially had.
So many people praised the series. After a lacklustre first season, I ploughed on as apparently “Season 2 and Season 3 are the best” (Season 5 is my favourite). It did improve but – especially Season 2 – seemed to toy with me in the same manner as Lost -raising questions without answering them in a satisfying manner. Ironically, I think The Sopranos seemed to begin as a good series with standard TV tropes, but it broke free of these constraints as it moved on – characters were never completely safe and (spoilers for The Sopranos) the majority of Season 6 placed the lead role of Tony Soprano in a hospital bed. I doubt Breaking Bad would be so brave.
I struggle to appreciate programmes (or films) that are clearly appealing to the lowest common denominator – and choosing tactics that are purely about holding my attention for the duration of the show. The pace of The Wire made no concessions – if you bailed in the first three episodes then more fool you. Those who finished the first season generally stuck it out through all five – and shifting the location and many of the characters from season to season forced you to work a little to appreciate the profound sociological and political points it was making.
The usual ‘family’ dynamic; a tense plot-device that is not resolved for an exceptional amount of time; cliff-hanger endings; the cliché 2D characters that clearly have only one purpose; untouchable lead characters – and serious consideration for a spin-off. This is akin to crowd-pleasing series such as 24 – and, as much as I liked the adventures of Jack Bauer, it was a guilty pleasure. All these things Breaking Bad has had, and – because it didn’t attempt to break free from the standard TV format (though, in the final eight episodes it probably will and, let’s face it, it’s because it has nothing to lose) – it can’t really be considered amongst the best TV series. Green-lighting a spin-off simply proves this, as such an attempt shows that Gilligan is about longevity and giving the growing audience exactly what it wants, rather than retaining artistic credibility and ensuring the quality does not concede to public demand.