I was not an early adopter of AMC’s Breaking Bad. I started watching midway through the last season. At the time, I thought it was the best TV show I had ever seen. But then when I got Netflix and went back and started watching from the beginning, I couldn’t finish the series. Every episode seemed to follow the same general story arc.
Since then, thanks to Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, I’ve watched The Wire, House of Cards (season 1 and half of season 2), Orange is the New Black and Bosch.
Now I rank The Wire as the best TV show I’ve ever seen and give Orange is the New Black a slight edge over Breaking Bad.
Which brings me to AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel: Better Call Saul. The show follows Walt and Jesse’s lawyer (Saul Goodman) from roughly the time he passed the bar, plus some flashbacks.
First, what it gets wrong. Like perhaps all movies and TV shows, BCS portrays big firm law wrong. For instance, there are scenes where Jimmy and his brother Chuck are pitching a plaintiff case to Chuck’s big firm and there must be twenty lawyers sitting at the table. In reality, there would be maybe three. The other 17 lawyers would be off working on their own cases.
In addition, the writers couldn’t seem to decide whether Chuck’s firm is a defense firm or a plaintiff firm. It’s a defense firm looking operation with defense firm looking lawyers, including Chuck. Chuck, who is now crazy, is way too stiff and uptight to be a plaintiff lawyer. But then the firm has billboards and want Jimmy’s plaintiff case.
Not that it’s all wrong. They get the feel of big firms right.
Where BCS shines is on its focus of Jimmy trying to build a law practice. Bob Odenkirk is terrific as Jimmy/ Saul. Hard pressed to find clients, Jimmy finds himself spending hours with grandmothers telling him how to dispose of their worthless knick-knacks in their wills. Only to collect a fee of $100.
Or tries to contain the excitement over a prospective client offering to pay a $1 million fee to help him secede from the government only to be shattered when the client tries to pay him in paper money from his own new “republic.”
Hang up your shingle and the occasional nut-job will find you. It might not be the same type of nut as in the show. But they will not be as different as you might think.
BCS should be required viewing for prospective law students and solo practitioners.
Want to go to law school? Want to start your own law firm? Well, your story may not be as exciting as Jimmy’s, but you are going to experience a lot of the same emotions.
BCS in my favorite law show or movie since My Cousin Vinnie. I highly recommend it.