We all loved Breaking Bad, right? Or maybe you didn't. Or you didn't see it. But happily, the second season of the prequel series, Better Call Saul, started up last week! So far it's fantastic!
Featuring a lot of the same behind-camera talent and some returning actors, Saul is revisiting the Breaking Bad world, but has some differences tonally. It's not a wacky comedy, but has more humor to it than BB did, especially in the new season.
It made me think of Bates Motel, a show I was VERY skeptical about. How could there be a prequel to Psycho, telling the Norman Bates teenaged years, without being ridiculous?
But it grabbed me right away. What a terrific show! It's the same genre as Psycho, a thriller, with a lot of the elements of that movie: Fear of the cops, violence, insanity, sexuality, and deception are explored, with fantastic performances by Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as Norman.
It feels like Psycho, and even though the world has been expanded in all directions, it hasn't gone too far. The exploration of the corrupt town is thrilling, and there is an urgency to the whole thing, despite the fact that we know where Norman Bates and his mother end up. I'm on the edge of my seat watching Norman turn into…well, a psycho.
For some reason, Bates Motel and Better Call Saul don't seem to have the Superboy problem: the lack of interest that comes from the fact that we KNOW Superboy lives to become Superman, so we're never worried about him in the Superboy stories.
I guess it has something to do with going deeper into the characters' lives, and in spite of knowing where Norman, Norma, Saul and Mike end up, we're thrilled to find out HOW they got there. The stakes are not just life and death, but a matter of HOW the characters collide with their eventual fates.
Prequels are risky ventures. But if the source material is deeply understood, there's no reason why they can't work just fine!
So what do you think of prequels?
Banes at 12:00AM, Feb. 25, 2016
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