The Four Best Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul Spinoffs You’ll Never See
Not long ago, I wrote a piece on how I thought the brilliant desert-noir show Better Call Saul could turn out to be even better than its parent series Breaking Bad. When I made that argument, the second season hadn’t yet released. Now, we’re almost halfway through Season Two, and things are still looking good for the spinoff.
As I said then, it’s a win/win for fans: Better Call Saul has already proven itself to be as smart and compelling as Breaking Bad, and if it turns out to be better on the whole, fine. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. Will fans of both shows argue until they can’t draw breath? Absolutely, and that’s half the fun of it. I may not argue about politics, but I’ll talk film and television until my face turns blue.
Another thing Better Call Saul has brought to the table is proof that well-made spinoffs can both draw on familiar material and be compelling in their own right. It’s also become legendary for cameos of familiar characters from the Breaking Bad universe, right alongside new characters. In fact, if Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and company keep introducing these interesting people with fascinating back stories, we might end up with a multitude of spinoffs and prequels. They could even be straight-up comedies.
Here are four hypothetical Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul series I’d love to see.
Lil’ Chuck and Slippin’ Jimmy: The Cicero Years
The Lowdown: From their interactions on Better Call Saul, we know about the strained relationship between the McGill brothers, Chuck and Jimmy. Chuck seems to have some serious issues with the way Jimmy lives his life, and we’re just beginning to get a good look at why that’s the case. Just when we think we understand their sibling dynamic, the writers toss in another complication, deepening the story even further.
Recently on Better Call Saul, Chuck made reference to growing up with his younger brother Jimmy in Cicero, Illinois, which raises some interesting questions about their teen years. Did they ever get along or cooperate, or have they always been at odds? How far back can we trace Jimmy’s history of shady behavior? Was Chuck always as uptight as he later becomes? To answer all these questions, we only need to go back as far as high school.
Best Episode: Against his better judgment, Chuck agrees to help Jimmy after the younger McGill brother is accused of urinating in the football coach’s coffee maker, a crime Jimmy denies but nonetheless dubs The Colombian Lemon-Squeezer.
Special Guest Appearance: Chuck is able to prove Jimmy’s innocence when it’s revealed that the actual urinater was none other than a young Marco Pasternak, Jimmy’s future partner in deception.
The Logline: Lil’ Chuck’s the president of the high school Law Club. Slippin’ Jimmy’s the class clown everybody loves. If they could get over their differences, they’d rule the school. Trouble is, they can’t stand each other.
Nacho and Loco Tuco: Direct Distributors
The Lowdown: Tuco Salamanca is well-known to Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fans as the drug dealer who’s always a few amphetamines from going full-on Act Three Scarface. Nacho Varga is his more reasonable, calculating, yet somehow still menacing sidekick. How long have Tuco and Nacho known each other, though? It’s obvious they have a history, but as of now, we know little about how they met and forged their relationship.
As it turns out, Tuco and Nacho don’t get their start slinging drugs. Instead, Tuco’s uncle Hector inexplicably decides to start his nephew on a more mundane method of buying and selling, sending him off to an Amway convention. That’s where Tuco meets his future consigliere Nacho, and despite their humble beginnings, both boys soon establish themselves as promising Amway salesmen and travel the Southwest, seeking out sponsors and doing deals in commandeered booths at Mexican restaurants.
Best Episode: After winning a regional sales award, Tuco and Nacho attend a conference at the unofficial home of all things Amway, a Southern Baptist church. While there, Tuco tries out his new “lie detector” stare down with a middle-aged mom and deduces she’s trying to steal his hidden inventory of Amway Improved Formula Laundry Detergent®. Poor Nacho has to find a way to talk Tuco out of offing the woman and her entire family. Of course, hilarity ensues.
Special Guest Appearance: Watch out for a cameo from Leonel and Marco, the not-yet murderous Salamanca twins from Breaking Bad, who crawl through on their way to a Los Cuates de Sinaloa concert, having mistaken the church for a Santa Muerte shrine.
The Logline: No one starts out at the top. Tuco and Nacho wanted to be drug kingpins. What they didn’t expect was to end up in a direct distributorship cult.
Hank Schrader: Teen Safety Patrol
The Lowdown: Breaking Bad fans know Hank Schrader as the hard-edged DEA agent who also happens to be Walter White’s brother-in-law. Hank is tough, uncompromising, and somewhat good at his job, and boy, does he love minerals (Not rocks, though—don’t ever call them rocks). What we don’t know much about, however, is how Hank gets his start in law enforcement.
In Hank Schrader: Teen Safety Patrol, we’re given a close look at Hank’s first foray into being a cop, a coveted sixth grade assignment as a safety patrol officer. Of course, he takes to the job, and he soon makes a name for himself as a no-nonsense guy who mostly gets things done.
Best Episode: When Hank undertakes an investigation of a rash of tire-slashing in the faculty parking lot, he ends up suspecting everyone other than the actual culprit, his unassuming cousin Eugene.
Special Guest Appearance: Pay close attention in episode 2, and you might see a future Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill senior partner (and possible android) Howard Hamlin as an up-and-coming hall monitor.
The Logline: Crime never rests, and neither does Hank Schrader. He’s always on the job, provided his mom is able to give him an early ride to school.
Law and Order: Special Ehrmantraut Unit
The Lowdown: Mike Ehrmantraut is one of the most popular characters from Breaking Bad, and that’s saying a lot, considering how many memorable players that show features. Now, Better Call Saul is shedding more light on what makes Mike tick, including bits and pieces from his past as a crooked cop in Philadelphia. Who wouldn’t want to watch a show about Mike’s old law enforcement days?
As we discover, in the Philly days, Mike runs a tight ship. He’s crooked, yes, but he still has standards. Dirty money changes hands, crimes are swept under rugs, but Mike’s cops know where they stand with him, as long as they don’t try to steal his pimiento cheese sandwiches.
Best Episode: Ripped from the headlines, Mike and his unit of corrupt cops go after a local pimp who’s started blackmailing his clients. Things get a bit complicated when it turns out the chief of police is at the top of the pimp’s list. All ends well when the pimp ends up fleeing, ironically enough, to Belize.
Special Guest Appearance: At Mike’s precinct, we get a glimpse of a young Walter White, who’s nearly been arrested for blowing up a lab at a Dow Kemistry for Kids Summer Camp.
The Logline: In the Philadelphia criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, Mike Ehrmantraut’s gang, which investigates crime, and…well, that’s pretty much it. These things tend to take care of themselves. This is their story.
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Okay, these will probably never happen. I can dream, though, right?