Murphy’s Law – Don’t call Saul

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

So many shows just don’t know when to call it quits.

Shows that start out with an intriguing concept that needs some kind of definitive resolution end up overstaying their welcome. That’s what’s happening with How I Met Your Mother right now. The show dragged out its titular gimmick so long that many fans have mentally checked out on Ted’s quest to find his soul mate.

I always really respect shows that go out on their own terms. Say what you will about the ending of Lost, but I respect that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse convinced ABC after a bloated, uneven season three that they needed to set a clear end date. And once the date got set, season four became one of their best overall.

That’s one of the things I’ve really loved about Breaking Bad. Creator Vince Gilligan has always had a clear idea of what he wanted the show’s overall arc to be, which, as he described it, was taking Walter White from “Mr. Chips to Scarface.” The idea was to take a likable character who feels like he has no other choice but to make meth and, by the end of the series run, to turn that man into a villain.

The show is winding down now. We are heading into the final stretch soon. And it has been a consistently entertaining ride getting to this point. With a clear end point and a clear end game in mind, Gilligan has been able to deliver a great story. And a story that will have a definitive end.

Except …

It seems that the ending might not really be the end for this world. Whatever Walter White’s ultimate fate may be, it might not really be the end of this world.

Deadline is reporting that AMC is considering a spinoff of Breaking Bad centered around Bob Odenkirk’s character, Saul Goodman. The show would potentially be an hour-long comedy centered around the sleazy, amoral billboard lawyer.

Ever since the Mr. Show days, I’ve been a big fan of Bob Odenkirk. I’ve really enjoyed having him be a part of Breaking Bad and some part of me would love to see him get a series like this. He is certainly funny enough and talented enough to carry a show and if anyone could make this concept work, it’s him.

And if any character could have a spinoff, it is Saul. He’s involved in the action in Walter White’s life, but not so involved that he’s likely to suffer a blow back when it all goes bad. If Walter ends up dead or in jail or whatever, it doesn’t really effect Saul’s life that much. He could simply take on new clients or even move to a new city after the show ends. He could be this show’s Frasier Crane.

But that being said, I really hope it doesn’t happen. For one thing, it has the potential to become much like one of Vince Gilligan’s least memorable television endeavors – The Lone Gunmen. (For those of you too young to remember the 90s, The Lone Gunmen was a spinoff of The X-Files that took Mulder’s trio of hacker friends and gave them their own show. It was not good and thankfully short lived.)

More importantly though, I just liked the idea of Breaking Bad being over when its over. For too long, American television has been known for running good concepts into the ground. We could learn a thing or two from British television, where shows only last a few seasons and those seasons only have a handful of episodes.

The original British version of The Office only had 14 episodes – two seasons and a two-part Christmas special. Meanwhile, the American version has run for nine seasons and will have done over 200 episodes by the time it’s over.

Things have started to get better with the rise of great cable television. Cable has a model closer to the British one, where shows have shorter seasons (usually somewhere around 12 episodes) and the creators have the ability to decide when they want to wrap things up, instead of being pressured by a network to keep the cash cow going.

Breaking Bad was one of those cable shows. It is slated to go out on its own terms (a luxury its main character, Walter White, doesn’t have). I really hope it rides off into the sunset, never to be seen again.

Let’s not call Saul. Let’s let him and everyone else rest in peace. In the long run, we’ll all be better off.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com

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