BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON 3

REVIEW – BETTER CALL SAUL – With Season 3 of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad spin-off over, we ask what we learned and where are we going.

So what did we learn in the third season of Better Call Saul? Okay, SPOILERS, but not really. We discovered Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is still Jimmy McGill and still not Saul Goodman. And I’m not sure he ever really will be Saul Goodman. Having got through three seasons, I’m also wondering if this is even the same character. The outright rogue of Breaking Bad keeps desperately trying to second guess the audience’s prejudices so that he’ll never do anything too bad. He does something bad and then repents. But the cards are so stacked against him that we’re bound to sympathize.

All those cards for the whole season seemed to be passing through the hands of his brother Chuck (Michael McKean).  Chuck and his space blanket became a central story strand of the whole season and there’s no delicate way of putting this, it was a pain in the balls. I love Michael McKean as an actor. And his performance here was wonderful but his trajectory was just so grindingly predictable. When a tragic decline and demise of a major character is your big finale of the season, you really shouldn’t have the audience shriek ‘Finally!’ but that’s what I did.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim is always fun. She’s smart but she was given so little to do except have the other office. Her legalling could be snappy, but when did this become legal eagles? Especially when we get on to oil wells and property rights. She says herself ‘I made a local bank into a regional bank’. Not exactly a thrilling ride.

And then there’s Mike (Jonathan Banks) who is visibly aging before our eyes. Mike was never a spring chicken exactly but given this is a prequel, I hope Gustav Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) sends him to a health farm or something. Waiting for someone to get a stroke is not the tensest denouement and this gangster story was almost as uninteresting as the shenanigans in a photocopying shop.

This sounds very negative. I don’t hate it at all. And everyone is so talented that this is obviously quality all the way through. But the story – which was the strongest element of Breaking Bad – has given way to simply waiting for shit to go down. And the wait is going on forever.

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5 THINGS THAT ARE WRONG WITH BETTER CALL SAUL

HOLLYWOOD – Breaking Bad spin off show Better Call Saul is entering its second season and there are precisely five things wrong with it.

Season 2 of Vince Gilligan’s Better Call Saul is underway and I think the time has come for me to get some things off my chest. First of all let me say that I loved Breaking Bad and I really liked Season One of Better Call Saul, and there’s not that much wrong with Season Two either. Except for five things.

  1. It isn’t called It’s Still Jimmy F*cking McGill. Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is a wonderful character and Jimmy McGill just seems a less interesting version of him. For all his attempts to be a good guy, the character feels like he’s moving glacially towards his later manifestation. Already from the first season we got the basic conflicts and issues, but here he is back again, trying to be agood guy, trying to be a solid lawyer, trying to impress his brother. Oh and…
  2. Chuck his brother, played by the marvelous Michael McKean, is somewhat stuck. His phobia in a way representative of the show in general, with its morbid reluctance to move forward. Everyone tiptoes around Chuck and does their best to make him feel at his ease, but I don’t quite see why everyone is so understanding and yet there is no sense that Chuck is receiving any professional help. I mean I get that he’s a great lawyer but he’s not exactly Howard Hughes. Oh and about the lawyer thing…
  3. Lawyers and law firms and civil suits and all of that stuff is just so boring. I mean I keep seeing people talking about the document recovery (poor Rhea Seehorn and her shitty post it notes) and stuff like that but ultimately I don’t care. Watching Jimmy desperately trying to be a good lawyer, those meetings, those conference calls, it’s all so desperately dull. I mean the main case this season is about an old persons retirement home! I get that they’re setting up the dullness of the straight life so we can see the attraction of Jimmy becoming Saul, but even Mike has a more interesting job and he’s a car park attendant.  Talking about…
  4. Mike was one of the highlights of Season One and his backstory was amazing. Truly great performance by Jonathan Banks. We’ve set up his allegiance to his daughter in law as motivation for him moving to the dark side but again there’s a slowness to this, an incremental slide and his story is completely disconnected from Jimmy’s. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the pace of the show. I get that every episode is based around three or four long scenes. And I like the writing and the performances, but the overarching story is becoming repetitive and uninteresting. As if they actually only had a two season story line and this season is the buffer between the two. But the worst thing is the …
  5. Breaking Bad cameos. Every time one happens it takes me totally out of it. They’re unnecessary and not helped by the fact that the actors have visibly aged since the originals that are supposed to have happened after this takes place. They’re distracting and only diminish the separate shows.

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MANIMAL SURPRISES AT THE EMMYS

HOLLYWOOD – The 67th Emmy awards took place at the Microsoft Theatre with Andy Samberg presenting the awards, but the major upset of the evening was Manimal the 1983 adventure series that swept all the major categories.

Manimal, a short-lived adventure series started and ended in 1983, but last night it swept the Emmys due to a glitch in the voting mechanism. Beating out the likes of Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, Veep and Game of Thrones, Manimal won best drama series, best comedy series, best non-prosthetic make up and Simon MacCorkindale won best actor, beating out the likes of John Hamm and Bob Odenkirk.

Peter Dinklage – who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones – spoke bitterly of his disappointment to the Studio Exec:

I’m bitterly disappointed. We were expecting stiff competition this year from Mad Men sure, but Manimal? That came from nowhere and swooped in like an eagle and took the award from my grasp. I mean was it even a good show? I didn’t even see it.

Although Manimal only ran for nine episodes in the early eighties, it received a massive cult following among internet groups and it is these groups which are thought to have interfered, or swung, the voting process. Starring MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, Manimal follows the shape shifting manimal as he solves crimes as a bull, or a dolphin, or a snake, or a monkey, or a giraffe. The Emmys host Andy Samberg was philosophical about the outcome and the outpouring of anger and hatred that soon followed:

It’s just like 2007 when Airwolf won everything. Or 2013 when it was Modern Family AGAIN. Nah, people bitch and complain but the fact is it is also cyclical. These things come around.

A new Manimal film starring Will Ferrell has been greenlit for 2017.

 

BETTER CALL SAUL: REVIEW

BETTER CALL SAUL: REVIEW – AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul just got better and better the more it relaxed and forget about Breaking Bad.

I must admit at first I was nervous. There were the visual echoes from Breaking Bad – the close ups of making Cinnabuns echoing cooking meth. There as the early cameo from a Breaking Bad baddie. And then there were even the plot similarities – Jimmy McGill being given the opportunity for financial freedom by the big law firm but sticking by his own amoral guns and pride. But as the season went on my nervousness relaxed and the show began to forge its own identity and its own particular delight.

One thing I noticed is that each episode was essentially three scenes. There were scenes around those scenes of course, but there were usually three moments, one of which was extended. The rhythm was different. There was a slow burn that worked well – a narrower more intense experience as if Breaking Bad had been the panorama and Better Call Saul was the sketchbook.

Then there was the shift of focus. Although called Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) – the proto Saul Goodman – often gave room to other characters, Rhea Seehorn as Jimmy’s ally/rival, his agoraphobic brother Chuck (a fantastic Michael McKean) and grump-bags Mike (Jonathan Banks) who served up the stand out moment of the whole series. Of course, Odenkirk was magnificent even when called upon to play his younger self in a series of increasingly unconvincing hair pieces, but sometimes with the depth he gave to the character came a paradox. I always thought that Saul – in Breaking Bad – hinted at depth that he resolutely refused to display. Better Call Saul resolutely gave you a sense of how deep Jimmy was, and left you wishing for the more flippant delights of Goodman. By the end of Season One, it has become apparent that the show is to be another character arc of a man behaving badly with his own specific motivations. Now these motivations have been laid out baldly, the arc predestined by the previous show, one hopes that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould can keep us interested in what we know is going to happen anyway. On the current evidence, I’d say it’s a safe bet.

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BETTER CALL SAUL TO FEATURE ZOMBIES

HOLLYWOOD – Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul will feature zombies, AMC confirmed last night.

The show – which is due to broadcast early in 2015 – stars Bob Odenkirk as the eponymous lawyer Saul Goodman prior to his involvement with Jesse Pinkman and Walter White. Show creator Vince Gilligan told the Studio Exec EXCLUSIVELY:

We really wanted to differentiate it from the original show, Breaking Bad, but at the same time we know that it needs to be big. So I was watching The Walking Dead and I thought, ‘Hey! What if we had zombies in the new show?’ I came into the writer’s room the next day and when I told them my idea they were all so happy they literally fell around laughing. I went and rewrote the pilot straight away.

But how will the zombie apocalypse fit in with the rest of the plot?

At first it didn’t, but then I was talking to Damon Lindelof and it was really liberating because he just said, ‘How do you know they’re not ALL already dead, from the very beginning?’ I had never thought that you could do something like that but once I realized they could all be dead and the only thing would be a kind of dream like in Jacob’s Ladder then you don’t really have to worry about consistency or logic or anything.

But does that mean Breaking Bad…?

Yep, they’re all dead.

That’s sh…

Shockingly good. I know.

Better Call Undead Saul will be broadcast in 2015.

BETTER CALL SAUL WILL FEATURE HAN SOLO

HOLLYWOOD – Han Solo will be a returning cast member to AMC’s Breaking Bad spin off Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan today confirmed.

Speaking exclusively to the Studio Exec show runner, Gilligan commented live via Skype from his own private island that he has named Vince’s Island:

We were unsure about having cast members return. But Bryan Cranston I know is keen to come back and appear as a cameo, as is Aaron Paul.  

Have you had an opportunity to talk to Harrison Ford?

What about?

About appearing in Better Call Saul as Han Solo, possibly one of everyone’s favorite characters from the original series. 

But you mean the original series of Star Wars, not Breaking Bad? That’s a whole different…

I heard he broke his ankle.

What? 

Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the set.

Oh yeah. Yes that’s true.

‘Yes. That’s true’. There we have it. 

But I didn’t mean….

[End of Transmission]

So it’s confirmed Han Solo will feature as a recurring character in Better Call Saul.

Better Call Saul is due to be broadcast this Fall. 

BREAKING BAD SPIN OFF: HEY JESSE ANNOUNCED

HOLLYWOOD – AMC announced today that Breaking Bad hero Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is getting his own spin off show with Hey Jesse!

The news comes almost a year on from the finale of the ground-breaking meth lab dramedy that has already spawned a yet to be aired spin off Better Call Saul starring Bob Odenkirk as the eponymous lawyer. Aaron Paul explained the new show:

A lot of people, myself included, think that Jesse got a pretty raw deal on Breaking Bad [Spoilers ahead – Exec]. He suffered beatings, manipulation, abuse and the loss of everyone he loved. And in return he got to drive into a fence, probably straight into the oncoming cop cars. So I talked to Vince Gilligan and we worked something out.

Details are hazy but show-runner, Gilligan spoke EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec and dropped some hints:

It is going to be a lot lighter. We really want to pay back Jesse for all the terrible things he had to go through. So he moves to New York and he becomes a male nanny to these kids of a famous film director and his actress wife. Anyway Jesse just has loads of great times with these kids and finds a kind of surrogate family. He’s lauded and celebrated and surrounded by people who love him and value him.

Great.

Oh and he succumbs to his old drug dealing ways and everyone finds out and he has to kill one of the kids to cover up and then the Nazis, Uncle Jack’s relatives, they turn up. And anyway I don’t want to give away the end, so I think I’ve said enough.

Hey Jesse! will be broadcast this Fall on AMC. 

NEBRASKA: REVIEW

LONDON – As Guy Pearce was unavailable Bruce Dern plays the role of an old man –  who decides he has to collect a prize he’s received through the mail despite the protestations of his family, even if he has to walk to Nebraska to collect it.

Will Forte is his son, who reluctantly decides to accompany his boozy emotionally distant and possibly losing it dad. What ensues is Payne-ful, Alexander Payne-ful! That’s right the giddy young fogey who gave us About Schmidt and Sideways is back with another of his mature, occasionally hilarious and wryly sardonic road movies, where lessons are learnt and complex characters come to self-realization. In order for you not to confuse it with his other films, he’s gone and done it in black and white (post-production by the way, it was shot on color film stock). But to say the road is well-trod would be churlish, when it offers such a good time. Payne’s produced a well oiled and precise machine that delivers up its ‘isn’t life odd’ moments and along with crowd-pleasing scenes, killer lines and generally great acting – Mike Hammer and Saul, the lawyer from Breaking Bad turn up. There are no big surprises and the film does what it sets out to do, though it’s odd to regret it does so with such efficiency.