Seasons of Spring 3 by 3


“She’s dead.  Wrapped in plastic…wrap.”

Three television series will see a Season 3 premiere this Spring: the Showtime redux of Twin Peaks — god I hope it’s good, Fargo on FX, and Better Call Saul on AMC.  Dates:

Twin Peaks: Sunday, May 21

Fargo: “sometime in mid-April”

Better Call Saul: Monday, April 10

Fargo will feature Ewan McGregor and be the most modern Fargo yet, set in 2010.  I hope it’s good in spite of McGregor’s presence.  Same goes for the Trainspotting sequel set to release next month (egad!).

Season 2 was entertaining, though not up to Season 1 form.  There was so much violence that the National Guard would have been called in by about episode 5, so my incredulity will be alleviated if they dial it back a bit.

If previous patterns hold, AMC will air the first two seasons of Better Call Saul in marathon style leading up to the premiere.  That same pattern dictates availability of Season 2 on Netflix one week prior to the premiere; Season 1 is available now.  Certainly hoping it continues to be (among) the most entertaining shows ever aired.  Gus Fring will be part of the story, and I’d be surprised if we don’t at some point see Walter White, as the inevitable crossover into the Breaking Bad era takes place.

As for Twin Peaks.  Without going into it, let’s just say that Twin Peaks was a revelation when it first aired.  Not only did I think it was an incredibly great, ground-breaking show, but it made a significant cultural impact on my life ever since.  The cast list is 200 miles long, including Kyle MacLachlan and a number of other original cast members, and newcomers Michael Cera, longtime Lynchite Laura Dern, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Matthew Lillard, rock frontmen Trent Reznor and Eddie Vedder, Naomi Watts, and A-Lister Amanda Seyfried.

Such a massive cast is a lot to juggle, so I hope this doesn’t become another Dune.  David Lynch and Mark Frost are producing and writing, as they did originally, and Lynch will be directing.  My concern is that Lynch hasn’t made a film since Inland Empire, and was seemingly retired from dramatic presentation, content to make damn fine coffee and avant-garde music.

Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Fargo have set a new standard in television.  I hope Twin Peaks can live up to that standard while capturing the spirit, and the spirits, of the original series.



Better Call Saul Midstream Debrief

NOTE: As with my Breaking Bad post, NO SPOILERS will be found herein.


If I ever have a child, I will name him or her Kettleman.  On the other hand, Ehrmantraut has a nice ring to it…

* * *

Better Call Saul might not be the best show ever aired, but that’s debatable.  It must be the most purely entertaining.  And though I indicated it was mere coincidence that Saul Goodman’s arrival on Breaking Bad heralded that series sweeping into the clip it would ride to the end, know now that it was more than coincidence.

As a spin-off, Better Call Saul could not be more different than Breaking Bad.  Except, possibly, in those scenes with Saul, Breaking Bad is completely devoid of humor.  Better Call Saul, on the other hand, deftly folds equal measures of comedy and taut drama.

Better Call Saul - text blockLike its progenitor, Better Call Saul suffers from moments of incredulity — a Vince Gilligan trademark perhaps.  An easy way the show could have greatly lessened this flaw: just throw out that first run-in with Tuco, and save him for later.  It’s just one too many coincidences.  Even so, this show is so fun that those few moments click by rapidly, and become even more inconsequential than in Breaking Bad.  I only bring it up, really,  as a point of comparison to Mad Men, which has no such instances.

As a counter-balance, Better Call Saul offers one of the most realistic depictions of the work lawyers actually do that I have ever seen on TV or film.  Name another show that features — time and again — the grunt-work of sifting through stacks of paper.  That essential bane of actual attorneys is rarely if ever included in courtroom dramas.

Oh and the relationships!  Between Kim and her boss, between Jimmy and Chuck, between Jimmy and Kim… oh how I adore this show!

Season 1 is available on Netflix, and if past is precedent, you’ll have to wait a week before the Season 3 premiere (i.e. another year) before Season 2 comes on board.  On that note: Vince Gilligan appeared on celebrity Jeopardy!, and was asked why there were not more episodes.  The answer was that the network would love more, but he felt the quality would suffer.  And he has a point — I think that’s another kink with Breaking Bad: things getting a little stretched out at times, something Better Call Saul never suffers from.

Breaking Bad Debrief


NOTE: Don’t let the post title scare you off.  There will be NO SPOILERS in this post.

In the second season of Breaking Bad, a pair of junkies who can barely put one foot in front of another supposedly are able to pull off the heist of an ATM from a convenience store and ferry the cash-laden machine back to their den.  This is the most extreme example of a loss of logic that occasionally drags on the series.  Those moments — often necessary to continue the story — usually occur amidst high-tension drama and are therefore fairly easily overlooked.  And these lapses are the only negative I can mention about Breaking Bad.


Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time… [and] entered the Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed show of all time.

I certainly don’t put Breaking Bad at the top of all television series ever — the aforementioned momentary lapses of reason are enough to knock it a peg below, say, Mad Men.  But it’s way up there, certainly in the top ten.  The series Breaking Bad - Sleepingstarts off a little roughly, but coincidentally once Saul Goodman enters as a recurring character half-way through Season 2, the show falls into a highly entertaining groove and never leaves it.  It is almost always riveting, edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

In other words, I highly recommend Breaking Bad.  Unlike Mad Men, make sure to watch starting with Season 1 Episode 1.  The entire series is available on Netflix (Yay!).

Humans on AMC

Humans - poster

My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you

Twilight Zone, episode “Living Doll.”  “A Thing About Machines” — with an electric razor chasing a man down the stairs — is also to the point here.

I wanted to post a short note on AMC’s Humans, which I’ve got caught up in.  With Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul, AMC has established a reputation which demands that its new series be given attention.  Humans is not up to the level of Mad Men or Better Call Saul, and Ex Machina may be thought of as a concentrated and much better overall effort than this series, but it’s still worthwhile.

What I like most about it are the character portrayals, especially of the “synth” Anita — who though friendly and helpful maintains a distinct sinister undercurrent, and the bonus of a well-optimized William Hurt.  The plot needs a little work, but nobody’s perfect.  Not even a robot.

William Hurt (not a cyborg)

William Hurt (not a cyborg)

TV Notes: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul - graphic large

Just a couple thoughts on AMC’s Better Call Saul, which wrapped up its first season last night.  First of all, and I know I’m a little late to the party, but boy has TV gotten a lot better.  I first became aware of this phenomenon in 2010 with Mad Men, the most exquisite television show ever produced.  With FX’s Fargo, and now Better Call Saul, the idea has been cemented that television has the capacity to better many movie offerings — especially with the cinematic dead zone we are now in.

I loved the Fargo series, despite the occasional gappy logic.  With Better Call Saul, I missed the first three episodes — marketing it as a sequel to Breaking Bad didn’t get my juices flowing, only because I’ve never watched Breaking Bad.  The entertainment value isn’t quite to the level of Fargo, but boy it’s good.  I love western settings done right, e.g. Electrick Children and After Dark, My Sweet.  Now we just need to wait for season 2…. which could be another year.

According to the Wikipedia entry, the entire Better Call Saul series of ten episodes will be available on Netflix any day now.  That’s good, because I really want to check out the first three episodes that I missed.