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'Better Call Saul': Is it a worthy successor to 'Breaking Bad'?

'Saul' focuses on 'Breaking Bad' character Saul Goodman, portrayed by comedian Bob Odenkirk. The series premiere of 'Saul' did very well in the ratings.

Ursula Coyote/AMC/AP
'Better Call Saul' stars Bob Odenkirk.

What are critics saying about the new AMC TV series “Better Call Saul”?

“Saul” certainly has some of the biggest shoes to fill in recent TV memory. The show is a spin-off of the AMC television series “Breaking Bad,” one of the most acclaimed TV programs of the new millennium. “Bad” concluded in 2013 and “Saul” centers on the character of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), who in the original series served as lawyer to protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston). “Saul” serves as his origin story – in the new series, Saul is going by Jimmy McGill. The show also stars Michael McKean as Jimmy’s brother Chuck and Jonathan Banks, who is reprising his “Breaking Bad” role as Mike Ehrmantraut, a private investigator.

So with very high expectations, how is “Saul” doing so far? According to Variety, the show scored big ratings when it premiered on Feb. 8. The episode got the highest cable ratings ever for a premiere in the highly valued 18-49 demographic, according to the publication.

As for critical reception, the show is doing fairly well so far. USA Today critic Robert Bianco gave the show three-and-a-half stars out of four and called it “a constant visual treat.”

“Jimmy's path to Saul may be similar [to Walter White's], but his motives are less pure and his fall more predictable,” Bianco wrote. “So why follow him? Because the writing, with its sudden shifts from drama to comedy and its sympathetic view of its bumbling characters, is so stellar… And because Odenkirk is terrific…Does that make Better as great as Bad? No, not yet. But in its first few hours, it's certainly very good.”

Washington Post critic Hank Stuever agreed, writing that the show is “right in line with the tone and style of the original, now-classic series… Odenkirk’s talent is on full display.”

However, Variety critic Brian Lowry wrote that viewers would have to wait and see if the show would develop into a great one.

“Odenkirk is perfectly fine in bringing added dimension to the character,” he wrote. “It’s asking a lot, though, to build virtually every scene around him with minimal support… ‘Saul’ contains some attractive elements, fine moments and a fabulous pedigree, but even Jimmy/Saul might be forced to concede the jury’s still out in terms of proving it has the right formula.”

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