Vince Gilligan has been rather open with The Hollywood Reporter about progress on his Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul. It's pretty clear that there's a lot of work to be done before the show hits the air, which is currently projected to be between August and October of next year, but the basic shape of the thing is starting to take focus around its Bob Oedenkirk-shaped nucleus.
The big problem, I guess, was finding the dramatic engine for the show or, as Gilligan puts it:
We've had to find the ongoing itch that Saul needs to scratch, so to speak, or else we wouldn't have much of a show.
I don't want to guess what it might be, though I'm certainly curious.
And then they had to settle on a tone, which seems to have been quite intuitive, the report saying:
If Bad was 75 percent dramatic and 25 percent comedic, Saul will be the opposite.
I suspect the real balance might be a little closer to 50/50. I'd argue that Friends, for example, was 25% dramatic and that felt like the sitcom it was.
The look of Saul is set to be quite similar to Breaking Bad, with Gilligan keen to keep consistency in crew and approach:
Let's shoot it in Albuquerque, let's get as much of the crew back together as possible, and let's do it the way we did it before so that it will be of a piece with that pre-existing fictional universe that we had so much fun creating.
And it won't just be the style carried over as, in an eminently fan-stoking fashion, Gilligan is promising to include cameos from Breaking Bad characters – somehow including the principles. Of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul's professed desire to appear, Gilligan says:
Personally, I'd have a hard time resisting putting all these guys in for a cameo or two every now and then.
It seems like they're in full puzzle-solving mode at the moment, working with pieces already in play while trying to create a new arrangement. I'm sure it's exciting every bit as much as it's frustrating for the team.
I'm hopeful that Better Call Saul can find a life of it's own and sustain at least as well as Breaking Bad did. Gilligan's obviously no dummy, so the prognosis is good.
Incidentally, Gilligan is interested in writing and directing a movie. Apart from his professed appetite to make a Western – and now would be the time to do so, with all his Breaking Bad buzz to coerce a studio into greenlighting such a thing – there aren't many clues as to what the film might be.
And when it will be, it seems, will depend on how hands on he wants to remain with Better Call Saul. I've got a hunch it might be a while to we see a feature film, then…