The supporting cast of Better Call Saul on AMC is shaping up with the additions of Michael McKean, who will play shyster lawyer Saul Goodman’s brother, Chuck, while Jonathan Banks will be reprising his role from Breaking Bad as Mike Erhmantraut, a “fixer.” Better Call Saul, set in 2002, will also include supporting cast members, besides Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Patrick Fabian (The Newsroom) as Hamlin, Michael Mando (Orphan Black) as Nacho and Rhea Seehorn (Franklin & Bash) as Kim.
Michael McKean is probably known best for having acted in This Is Spinal Tap (1984), though he has also appeared in movies such as the 1987 flick Planes, Trains & Automobiles and the 2009 film, Whatever Works. As the older brother of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), McKean is likely to add a lot of comedic touches to the series. Jonathan Banks was in a few episodes of the NBC comedy series Community after Breaking Bad drew to a close.
Criminal lawyer Saul Goodman was not always known as Saul Goodman. The first episode of Better Call Saul on AMC will reveal that his real name is Jimmy McGill. In the process of “searching for his destiny and hustling to make ends meet,” the then “small-time lawyer,” strives to re-brand himself and increase his cash flow.
September 2013 marked the end of the extremely popular AMC series, Breaking Bad, where actor Bob Odenkirk first played criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. The spin-off to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, is set to premiere sometime in January 2015. The first season will consist of 10 episodes. AMC, apparently pleased with how production has been going so far, has already ordered a second season of 13 episodes.
Breaking Bad showrunner, Vince Gilligan, co-created Better Call Saul with Peter Gould. They had to try to understand exactly who Saul Goodman was and what made him tick. Despite having written episodes with Saul Goodman in them, according to Gilligan “we didn’t know who this guy was at all.” That was probably because he did not have very much of a back story in Breaking Bad.
Peter Gould is the Breaking Bad writer who created Saul Goodman in the second season of the series. In a recent interview, he posed the intriguing question “what problem does being Saul Goodman solve?”
Both of the producers have hinted at other Breaking Bad supporting cast members making appearances in Better Call Saul on AMC to further shape up the cast. Anna Gunn, who plays Walter White’s wife, Skyler, on Breaking Bad, has signed on already, for instance.
However, Gilligan and Gould stress that Better Call Saul will not be a rehash of Breaking Bad. Instead, as Gould put it eloquently, “We’re trying to make something that stands on its own.”
The high quality of Breaking Bad will remain, though. As Vince Gilligan remarked, any of the kinds of subjects and intricate sorts of plots that viewers have come to associate with Breaking Bad are also “possible on Better Call Saul.”
According to Gould, though Better Call Saul starts off set in 2002, five years before the events of Breaking Bad take place, the series will have a flexible storyline which will allow for both flashbacks and flash forwards. This flexibility conceivably allows for even Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to be in a few episodes.
Better Call Saul was originally penciled in by AMC to appear in their fall lineup of shows. Vince Gilligan has admitted that he is the one behind the delay until January of 2015. He said that they could have possibly made the fall deadline, but the extra time was helpful, as he is “slow as mud as a TV writer.”
With the supporting cast of Better Call Saul shaping up and Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould the writers and producers of the series, AMC could have yet another hit series on their hands. Though the premiere of Better Call Saul has been delayed from the fall to January of next year, AMC seems confident that Gilligan and Gould are taking the show in the right direction, as they have already agreed to a second season of the series.
By Douglas Cobb