Last year, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan told EW he was considering a spinoff for the show starring Bob Odenkirk as criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. Now the project seems to be gaining momentum and the prospect is both exciting — more Breaking Bad! — and a little worrisome, when you consider the spotty track record for TV spin-offs not titled Frasier. Might a spin-off stain Breaking Bad‘s Golden Age of Television Award? And if the reports that claim the spin-off would be a comedy are to be believed, would a Saul Goodman laugher diminish the memory of such a notable dark show?
As an avid Breaking Bad fan, I’m a little skeptical. However I do know two things: 1. Bob Odenkirk is an amazing actor who totally inhabits this role. 2. Vince Gilligan deserves to write for television forever.
So here are six things that would make the show essential viewing and a deserving extension of the Breaking Bad universe.
1. Set it a good amount of time in the future and somewhere else: I think everyone would be a lot more comfortable with this spinoff if it remained a spinoff in the loosest of senses. Breaking Bad is hurdling toward a series finale with a huge body count, so emotions might be a little raw if the pilot for Saul’s show picks up right back in Albuquerque three months later. So skip ahead five years and find Saul living it up in Las Vegas (or a suburb of Vegas) as the seediest lawyer in town (and that’s saying something).
2. Give Odenkirk a strong supporting cast, but not a sidekick: Odenkirk doesn’t need a Franklin to his Bash (or a Rizzoli to his Isles or a Bones to his Booth). We wouldn’t want this show to devolve into another buddy-lawyer show. Odenkirk’s a one-man show and if you give him something interesting to dance around, he will not disappoint. If he’s going to be the lead, then don’t dilute that down by giving him another famous person as his co-lead.
3. Make the stakes high, even though it’s a comedy: Odenkirk as a sleazy lawyer solving a different case every week probably could attract some viewers. But this is Vince Gilligan, so make it a dark comedy, where the stakes are high. If it’s a procedural, have some overarching intense case that occurs throughout each season. The best Gilligan episodes are emotional roller-coaster rides that give you the feeling that the other shoe is about to drop, tease you with the chance that everything is going to work out, and then punch you in the gut. If this show devises a comic version of this formula that keeps viewers antsy, it could really be terrific.
4. Have Dan Harmon write an episode: Speaking of good writers who need to be on TV forever, Dan Harmon should write an episode of this show (or be a staff writer). Given how good the Law & Order episode of Community was, we know Harmon can embrace the procedural just as much as he can rebel against it. And maybe Gilligan’s ability to tightly unfold a season will blend perfectly with Harmon’s go for broke style.
5. If the joke is that he never wants to go into a courtroom, then never have a courtroom in the show: Since a big part of Saul’s character is that he hates going to court, then it would be great for the new show to fully commit to that idea and literally never feature a courtroom. The show could portray all judges as ominous, never seen, creatures.
6. Jesse makes a brief cameo: Jesse should make a cameo as a well-adjusted, happily married, millionaire. Or, you know, at least someone who has his life together. You can’t kill him, Vince Gilligan, you can’t… please, please, please don’t.