Better Call Saul is too good to be a spinoff

The airwaves are littered with the rival successors to TV’s so-called “golden age,” but only one has spawned a straight-up spin-off. Better Call Saul, which premieres Sunday on AMC, focuses on the early life of “criminal lawyer” Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) when he was struggling lawyer Jimmy McGill, six years before the events of Breaking Bad. And spoiler alert — it’s excellent. That’s unsurprising given the assembled talent behind and in front of the camera, but somewhat paradoxically, the quality of Better Call Saul serves as a strong argument that creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould should have made a series outside of the shadow of Walter White.

At the height of television’s second golden age, the success of TV shows was…

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