Tag Archives: TV

Better Call Saul

Jimmy McGill aka Saul Goodman
Jimmy McGill aka Saul Goodman

Does it ever seem that some people are  jinxed?

That, no matter what they do, they just can’t catch a break?

Saul Goodman is one of those people in the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul.

Or Jimmy McGill as he is when we first meet him. It’s some years before the riveting roller-coaster that was Breaking Bad. The not-yet-but-just-about-to-become-Saul-Goodman Jimmy McGill is working as a lawyer of last resort from a cramped office behind a nail salon. His office has enough room – barely – for Jimmy to squeeze into with some impressive contortionism. His landlady just about acknowledges his existence. A shipping container would be a jump up in the world.

This first series of 10 episodes explains Jimmy’s backstory and sets up the premise for his looming transformation into Saul Goodman.

When we meet him first, Jimmy’s doing battle with the legal firm where his older brother, Charles McGill, is a senior partner.

Charles’ life has been turned upside down by the sudden onset of electromagnetic sensitivity. His electricity is disconnected, his curtains drawn, he lives in the dark, stores food in boxes of ice and refuses to let any piece of electrical equipment into the house – and he also refuses to leave the house. His only connection to the outside world, his lifeline quite literally, is Jimmy.

Jimmy is attempting to convince his brother’s firm to pay out millions of dollars since it seems unlikely Charles will ever return to practice law. In the meantime, Jimmy is supplying Charles with food, ice, newspapers and a host of other much-needed goods.

His good deeds are slowly driving Jimmy into bankruptcy.  He’s casting about for new and well-paying cases – and everyday he gets more desperate and less scrupulous.

How far will he go? Will he sacrifice himself to save his brother?

Not saying too much to spoil the experience, but the core of the show hinges on the fact that though Jimmy may be a rogue willing to countenance a fair amount of fuzziness around what constitutes legal in his book, he is at heart a genuinely good person while the respectable society he’s so eager to be a part of may not be all it seems.

Funny and genuinely poignant at times – well worth a watch even for anyone who has never seen Breaking Bad.

Banshee

Banshee - Badges and Blood
Banshee – A tough town for law enforcement

Tense and taut from its very first seconds, Banshee is Justified on speed.

I’m just catching up now with this series which has been renewed for a third season.

The first episode opened with a man being released from prison.  Rehabilitation doesn’t seem to have gone very well. Within minutes he’s slept with a female bartender and stolen a car. Minutes later he’s dodging bullets amid manic mayhem on the mean streets of New York – no glamorous parties or lavish settings for our resolutely grim, grimy and gritty Mr Anonymous.

Escaping death by a hair’s breath he sets off in search of an old acquaintance. At this stage we have very little idea of who the mystery ex-con is, what he wants, where he’s going or why – the backstory arrives slowly, drip by drip, dollop by sparsely doled out dollop over the next 40 tense and action-packed minutes.

Our antihero/villain arrives in the town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. Calling into a roadside bar, he gets caught up in the middle of a robbery which ends with the death of an equally newly arrived man who’s just-about-to-be sworn in as the new sheriff. Opportunity has knocked, and Mr Anonymous assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, Banshee’s newest lawman.

After that we gradually learn why he’s in town and a little about the town itself – a small place on the edge of Amish country with one top dog in terms of crime, Kai Proctor – and that life for the new Sheriff Hood (!) is going to be anything but simple on many fronts.

Banshee is resolutely dark in tone, frequently very violent, but rarely if ever dull. Made with an adult audience in mind, it has a hard edge, graphic sex scenes, a soundtrack that alone would make it worth watching  and hypnotic camera work that chimes every bit with the unsettled and jumpy feel of the show.

Certainly not for everybody but if you’re looking for a stylist, fast-moving, no-holds barred show about dark pasts, dangerous secrets and doomed dreams, this is it.