Better Call Saul (AMC)
Spinoffs are regularly regarded suspiciously as cash grabs with tired, derivative formulas; and prequels face their own challenges, if audiences feel they already know the characters and dramatic stakes. Thus, it is a testament to the brilliance of the creative team behind “Better Call Saul” that a prequel spinoff has managed to meet—and some say surpass—the creative heights of originality, suspense, and drama of its acclaimed origin series “Breaking Bad,” a two-time Peabody Award winner. In 2015, the story of comic relief character Saul Goodman seemed unlikely to produce a compelling tale of pathos and character drama, but three seasons in, we are still exploring the depths of the professional and personal struggles of earnest lawyer Jimmy McGill as he navigates an unfair moral universe that won’t allow him to escape his two-bit conman past. Anchored by commanding performances from Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, the third season reached new heights on the shoulders of Rhea Seehorn and Michael McKean, playing the only two people Jimmy cares about more than himself. Like its original series, “Better Call Saul” embraces an innovative audio and visual style to capture the feel of Albuquerque, while developing its own unique tone mixing legal drama, crime thriller, and dark comedy. While we all know that Jimmy McGill will ultimately break bad to become Saul Goodman, his gradual journey has produced television excellence that qualifies “Better Call Saul” a Peabody winner on its own terms.
Executive Producers: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein, Thomas Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchison. Writers: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Tom Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchison, Jonathan Glatzer, Gordon Smith, Ann Cherkis, Heather Marion. Directors: Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Tom Schnauz, Daniel Sackheim, Keith Gordon, Adam Bernstein, Minkie Spiro, Peter Gould. Talent: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Giancarlo Esposito, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Mark Margolis.