Spinoffs have never been treated with extreme kindness. Generally regarded, whether in television, film, comic books, etc., as an attempt to milk a good idea for whatever its worth, spinoffs have the propensity to be a pale reflection of that thing you once loved. My own personal favorite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has the spinoff Angel, which I’ve never watched out of this very fear. At best, spinoffs become so successful you forget that they originated elsewhere (as Frasier did to Cheers), and at worst they besmirch the record of the original work (as Joey did to Friends). Strangely enough, despite a spinoffs connection to its parent show, the works seem often unable to coexist.
Buffy does its best to integrate itself with Angel by having various walk on performances by the characters between shows. This is made obviously possible by their concurrent runs. Now take a show like Better Call Saul. Coming just sixteen months after the show’s much-protested finale, Better Call Saul stands to be the most anticipated spinoff yet. Another mark in the check column: Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and producer Peter Gould are known for their artistic ingenuity, not their willingness to make a quick buck.
After watching the first three episodes it became clear that the disillusionment movies have instilled in me, to fear the franchise, may be unmerited. To lessen the fervor of Breaking Bad’s legacy would be blasphemous, creating an impetus of authenticity, a need to appropriately fill the big shoes left behind. But in so doing, maybe it will encourage the television industry to continue to raise its bar. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be a place for junky or reality television if that’s your thing, but in a world where (what I can only assume, based on the first three episodes will be) a great show can be made from mere threads of a story-line, if the desire is there it’s possible. So I guess we’ll see if greatness is as desirable as money or if money can be seen as the long-term result of insisting upon greatness.