“Better Call Saul” Review

April 6, 2015 4:31 AM

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When the deal was announced for a spinoff of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” based on one of the show’s minor comic characters, the legal shyster Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), even superfans weren’t sure what to think. At the time, Vince Gilligan’s drama about a science teacher turned meth king was in its final season, whipping out brilliant episodes like fastballs. Media coverage, mine included, was caught up in worshipful celebrations. Though the last episode ended up being something of an anticlimax, a sleek set of showdowns between a clever badass and his cartoon foes, that still left sixty-one other rowdy, rich installments, forming the morally intricate backstory of an archetypal villain, Walter White. Why spin off, then? Just to keep things spinning?

“Better Call Saul,” on the verge of its own finale, of Season 1, has a lot to recommend it, particularly for devotees of the original show. Odenkirk, with his wry croak of a voice and his surfer-gone-to-seed looks, remains a likable figure, even when he’s doing wrong. We get backstories for “Breakin...

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