Saul a drama all about character
Finally a show where viewers are treated like grown-ups.
The long-awaited third series of Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul (available on Lightbox), returns on April 12. It picks up exactly where it left off and honestly, it took me a few minutes to remember exactly where that was. I’m impatient and resorted to a quick google to jog my memory.
But that’s one of the many things I like about this series – viewers are treated like grown-ups, there’s no painful exposition or spelling out of plot points that might not be entirely clear. The writers don’t feel the need to rush to keep our attention.
This is a drama all about character. Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) might be a little bit dodgy, but he’s likeable and has his own moral code and a weird loyalty to brother Chuck, that doesn’t seem entirely mutual.
As this series opens, his relationship with Chuck is on a downward trail and it looks like Jimmy is going to start evolving a bit more towards the legally dubious lawyer that Breaking Bad viewers will remember.
The writing is great, the characters are complex and three-dimensional – you know, like people. And the story twists and turns are always impossible to predict. It blends dark humour with a great plot and also makes good use of the purely visual.
Like the scenes with hard man Mike stripping his car back to parts as he tries to figure out who left a warning sign on his windscreen. We can see his frustration and sense time pass as shadows move across the demolition yard and the red earth of the surrounding desert. All without a word.
I mentioned the other week that there are a lot of good dramas about at the moment, but this is more than that – it’s simply superb. If you haven’t seen it before, go right back to series one and start there – you’re in for a treat.
I’m slightly less excited by French series Section Zero (Fridays, 8.30pm, Rialto Channel). But if you think countries should be run like businesses, then take a look.
It’s set in a future Europe where the state has broken down and everything is run by a gigantic corporation called Prometheus. And it hasn’t worked out too well for most people.
Like so many dystopian futures, the population has been touched by war, famine and climate change. Everything is grey and dark and gloomy and people, cars, buildings all look filthy. However, tattoo artists must be doing a roaring trade because there’s hardly anyone left without ink.
In the middle of all this gloom, cop Sirius Becker (Ola Rapace) struggles to do his job hindered by widespread corruption and the shadowy forces of Prometheus.
With an engaging story, reasonable characters and rarely a wasted word of dialogue this all adds up to something quite good – good enough to not even notice the subtitles.
But the problem is it’s so unrelentingly depressing.
Sure, make it political, make it thought-provoking, but give us an occasional glimmer of hope.
Bob Odenkirk is back for another season of Better Call Saul.
Section Zero: an engaging, but unrelentingly depressing drama.