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AMC renews 'Breaking Bad' prequel 'Better Call Saul,' delays launch

Television IndustryBreaking Bad (tv program)AMC (tv network)Charlie CollierSony Corp.Bob Odenkirk
Hey, call Saul! AMC renews 'Breaking Bad' prequel "Better Call Saul" ... and delays its launch

We knew Saul Goodman was slick, but who knew he was this slick?

Without a premiere date set for the first season of the "Breaking Bad" prequel, which centers on the smarmy lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk, AMC confirmed Thursday that it has already ordered a second season of "Better Call Saul."

The hourlong, which is being co-produced by AMC with Sony Pictures Television, sets its sights on the years before Saul had dealings with The Danger, a.k.a. Walter White.

The second season will consist of 13 episodes -- that's three more than its 10-episode order for its debut cycle. But, hey, Saul knows how to sneak stuff through. Filming on the show's first season is in progress in Albuquerque.

“Production on ‘Better Call Saul’ is underway and we could not be more proud of nor more excited about the work to date. We join the fans in eager anticipation for this series and today we happily confirm that our initial ‘Saul’ order is for two seasons and a total of 23 episodes,” said AMC President Charlie Collier in a statement.

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilliagan is directing the "Better Call Saul" series premiere, and will split show-running duties with fellow "Breaking Bad" alum Peter Gould, the man responsible for creating the Saul Goodman character.

The early renewal shows some eagerness on AMC's part, but the network's release also came with a drawback: a delay in the series launch.

"Better Call Saul," which will have several "Breaking Bad" writers on staff, was set to premiere in November, but is now being pushed for an early 2015 release, with Season 2 expected to make an early 2016 roll out. Specific dates have not been set, but the show will join "The Walking Dead" and "The Talking Dead" during their runs.

That leaves the network minus a new launch for the rest of the year, following the soft debut for this summer's "Halt and Catch Fire."

“When introducing any series, especially one with the DNA of ‘Breaking Bad,’ there are countless factors to consider in making sure the show gets the launch it deserves," Collier continued in his statement. "We have a strong history with Vince, Peter, Bob, the studio and so many involved with this production; we are enjoying the process on ‘Saul’ and all share a focus on making it a true television event. No half measures.”

A lot of pressure rests on the series, particularly in pleasing die-hard "Breaking Bad" fans who worry about whether the spinoff will hold up to its forebear. During a recent roundtable discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, Gilligan revealed production was almost two weeks behind schedule. And he acknowledged he might have pushed himself into a corner.

"It opens you up to a lot of fears, like is this going to be 'Frasier' or is it going to be 'After M.A.S.H.,'" Gilligan said. "I don't know yet ... If it's 'After M.A.S.H' rather than 'Frasier,' it won't be for a lack of hard work and wishful thinking and a lot of smart people doing their best, but you just don't know until the world takes it."

Channel surf with me on Twitter: @villarrealy

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Television IndustryBreaking Bad (tv program)AMC (tv network)Charlie CollierSony Corp.Bob Odenkirk
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