“Saul” premiere does alright sans Walter White

“Breaking Bad” addicts can finally relax. AMC aired the premiere of “Better Call Saul,” a spinoff of the 16-time Emmy Award-winning show, on Feb. 8. The new series focuses on criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, first introduced to “Breaking Bad” viewers as the frenzied owner of a strip mall law office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Acting as both a prequel and a sequel of sorts, the pilot covered a large span of time–– ranging from before Goodman met the infamous Walter White until well after the events of “Breaking Bad” were over.

The opening scene is set in a mall Cinnabon, with Goodman––portrayed by Bob Odenkirk–– working as a balding manager lazily going through the motions of his day. Set to a slow-paced oldie and filmed in black and white, the unusual start of the episode had me wondering if I was even watching the right show.

Luckily, it seems that creator Vince Gilligan has his fingerprints all over this series and won’t soon abandon the disorienting camera angles and disjointed editing choices that defined “Breaking Bad.” After viewers got a dark glimpse of what the future held for James McGill––Goodman’s former name––they were taken right back to the lawyer’s pre-“Breaking Bad” days. Most of the episode followed the desperate lawyer as he used deception to win new clients and muddle through life.

Historically, many spinoffs have proven to be half-baked. Without the fascinating antihero that was Walter White to hold it up, this new offering could easily to be in danger of failing to stand on its own two legs. Based on this pilot’s solid production and Odenkirk’s welcome return, however, “Better Call Saul” seems poised to do its parent series justice.