"Uno"
Better Call Saul episode
Saul Goodman argues with parking attendant Mike Ehrmantraut
Jimmy McGill argues with parking attendant Mike Ehrmantraut. The actors who play them, Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, reprise their roles from Breaking Bad.
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byVince Gilligan
Written by
Produced by
Featured music"Address Unknown" by The Ink Spots
Cinematography byArthur Albert
Editing bySkip Macdonald
Original air dateFebruary 8, 2015 (2015-02-08)
Running time53 minutes
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"Mijo"
Better Call Saul (season 1)
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"Uno" is the series premiere of the television series Better Call Saul, the spinoff series of Breaking Bad. The episode was written by series creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, and directed by Gilligan. In the United States, the episode aired on February 8, 2015, on AMC. Outside of the United States, the episode premiered on streaming service Netflix in several countries.

The series mainly takes place in 2002, approximately six years prior to the title character Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) meeting Walter White (Bryan Cranston). In "Uno", Jimmy McGill (Saul), is a struggling lawyer working at the back of a nail salon. Jonathan Banks reprises his role as Mike Ehrmantraut, a retired cop working as a parking lot security guard, as does Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca, a high-ranking Mexican drug dealer. The episode received generally positive reviews from critics, and at the time, it became the most-watched series premiere for a scripted series in U.S. cable history, with 6.9 million viewers.[1]

Plot

Opening

In Omaha, Nebraska, a balding, mustached Saul Goodman, now called Gene Takavic, is working in a Cinnabon bakery in a shopping mall. In his apartment that night, he tearfully watches a VHS tape of his old television advertisements.

Main story

In May 2002, Jimmy McGill is a struggling Albuquerque attorney. After representing three teenagers as a public defender, Jimmy is frustrated to be paid only $700. On his way out of the courthouse parking lot to meet a prospective client, Jimmy is stopped by Mike Ehrmantraut, the parking attendant. Mike refuses to let him exit until he pays cash or provides a court-supplied parking sticker.

Jimmy meets with Betsy and Craig Kettleman, who are being investigated for embezzlement. They are hesitant to hire him and when Jimmy later tries to order them flowers while driving, he hits a man on a skateboard. The skateboarder's twin brother videotapes the incident and threatens to call police unless Jimmy pays them. Recognizing their ruse, Jimmy refuses. Afterward, he returns to his "office" – the boiler room of a Vietnamese beauty salon – where he finds a check from Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM). Jimmy tears up the check and later accuses the partners of trying to use a token payment to cheat his brother Chuck out of his share of the law firm. On his way out of HHM's office, he sees the Kettlemans entering, which causes him to angrily and repeatedly kick a trash can.

Jimmy visits Chuck, who is housebound and believes he has electromagnetic hypersensitivity. He has no working lights or appliances and works by lantern on a manual typewriter. Chuck refuses to accept a buyout from HHM and also suggests that Jimmy stop using the McGill name for his law practice.

Jimmy tracks down the skateboarders, Cal and Lars, and tells them he got the nickname "Slippin' Jimmy" as a young man by faking "slip and fall" accidents for easy money. He arranges for one of them to be struck by Betsy's car, which will enable him to make another pitch to defend the Kettlemans. Instead of stopping to check on Cal after hitting him, the motorist drives off. Cal and Lars give chase, but when the car stops, an elderly woman exits. They try to make her pay and follow her into her house. Jimmy arrives moments later and begins to search, but is pulled into the house at gunpoint by Tuco Salamanca.

Production

Development

Series co-creator Vince Gilligan, who also created predecessor Breaking Bad
Series co-creator Vince Gilligan, who also created predecessor Breaking Bad

A spin-off series to Breaking Bad was first discussed during the airing of the show's fifth season.[2] In July 2012, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan hinted at a possible spin-off series focusing on Goodman.[3] In April 2013, the series was confirmed to be in development by Gilligan and Gould; the latter wrote the Breaking Bad episode that introduced the character.[4] In a July 2012 interview, Gilligan said he liked "the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law" including settling on the courthouse steps.[5]

Filming

The show is filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Breaking Bad was also shot.[6] As filming began on June 2, 2014,[7] concerns were expressed regarding the possible disappointment from the series' turnout, in terms of audience reception.[8][9] On June 19, 2014, AMC announced it had renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes to premiere in early 2016, with the first season to consist of 10 episodes, and that the series premiere had been delayed to early 2015.[10] The first teaser trailer debuted on AMC on August 10, 2014, and confirmed its premiere date of February 2015.[11]

In the opening scene from the episode, Saul (now hiding his real identity under the alias Gene), is working at a shopping mall Cinnabon. This scene is set in Omaha, Nebraska, but it was filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the Cottonwood Mall.[12] The scene is predominantly shown in black and white, except for a brief moment where a Saul Goodman commercial in color reflects on Gene's glasses.[13]

Cultural references

As Jimmy barges in to a partner's meeting at HHM, he shouts "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Hamlin, and I won't have it!", paraphrasing a quote from the film Network.[14] As Jimmy exits HHM's offices after arguing with the partners, he shouts "You Will Atone!" When no one understands the reference, he says "It's Ned Beatty from Network. For Christ's sake, guys."[14]

Reception

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 100% of 20 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.70/10. The website's consensus reads, "The premiere will be familiar territory, but Bob Odenkirk's turn as Jimmy McGill establishes Better Call Saul as a worthy character study in its own right."[15]

Bob Odenkirk received universal acclaim for his performance in "Uno".
Bob Odenkirk received universal acclaim for his performance in "Uno".

Erik Kain of Forbes said of the episode and series: "[It] isn't just a spin-off of a popular TV show. So far, it's a terrific TV show on its own merits. It covers familiar ground, but it still manages to be its own unique snowflake."[16] Hank Stuever of The Washington Post graded it a "B+" and wrote the series "is right in line with the tone and style of the original, now-classic series" and that it "raises more questions in two hours than it will readily answer".[17] Stephen Marche of Esquire wrote that the first few episodes were better than Breaking Bad.[18] Kirsten Acuna of Business Insider declared the initial episodes "everything you could possibly want from a spinoff television series".[19]

Roth Cornet of IGN gave the episode an 8.7 out of 10, saying "Can Saul compete with Walter White? No. But he doesn't have to. Better Call Saul poses one simple, but fascinating question: What happened to Jimmy McGill that forced him to transform himself into the ruthless, hardened, yet entirely entertaining *criminal* lawyer Saul Goodman? The man that we came to know and love on Breaking Bad. I, for one, look forward to watching that story unfold."[20] Michael Star of The New York Post wrote, "Sunday's premiere episode moves along at a brisk clip, with moody cinematography that, like Breaking Bad, somehow makes the bright New Mexico sunlight, set against a brilliant azure sky, seem like stormy foreboding—lifted by Odenkirk's confident performance and Jimmy's snappy dialogue .... I'm always interested to see how/if a new show carries its premiere momentum forward, especially with a show like Better Call Saul, which was hyped so relentlessly by AMC that you began to wonder."[21]

Robert Bianco of USA Today said "Face it: When AMC announced it had ordered a prequel to Breaking Bad, odds are many of us saw it as a callow move by a network bereft of new ideas to milk an old one for all it was worth. Well, we were right—but what we failed to factor in were the gifts star Bob Odenkirk and creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould would bring to Better Call Saul ... and their ability to transform what looked to be a sow's ear into something pretty much approaching a silk purse."[22] In her review, Mary McNamara of The Los Angeles Times summarized that "the beauty of Saul was his unflappable nature; no matter how dire or dreadful the circumstances, he was able to identify the next logical step and take it. Jimmy McGill doesn't know how to do that yet; Better Call Saul will show us how he learned."[23]

Ratings and accolades

Upon airing, the episode became the highest-rated series premiere for a scripted series in U.S. cable history up to that date, with 6.9 million viewers.[1] The show placed second for the night among U.S. cable networks, behind only its lead-in show The Walking Dead, which as of February 9, 2015, ranks as the second-highest rated entertainment broadcast with adults 18–49 in the U.S., behind The Blacklist episode "Luther Braxton" which aired after Super Bowl XLIX.[1][24][25]

Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould won the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Episodic Drama for this episode.[26] At the American Cinema Editors Awards, editor Skip Macdonald received a nomination for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television.[27]

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b c Kondolojy, Amanda (February 9, 2015). "The Walking Dead Returns to 15.6 Million Viewers + Better Call Saul is Biggest Series Premiere in Cable History". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on February 10, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  2. ^ 101 Better Call Saul Insider 2015, 1:25–2:00.
  3. ^ "Comic-Con Q&A: Vince Gilligan on Breaking Bad". Deadline Hollywood. July 15, 2012. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 9, 2013). "AMC Eyes Breaking Bad Spinoff Toplined By Bob Odenkirk". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 19, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 11, 2013). "Breaking Bad Saul Goodman Spinoff A Go At AMC, Will Serve As Prequel To Original". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 10, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  6. ^ "Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul begins filming in Albuquerque, NM today!". On Location Vacations. June 2, 2014. Archived from the original on February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  7. ^ O'Neal, Sean (June 3, 2014). "It's time to begin overanalyzing the first Better Call Saul set photos". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Toomer, Jessica (June 3, 2014). "Vince Gilligan Admits His Breaking Bad Spinoff Might Be A Mistake". HuffPost. Archived from the original on February 19, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Roberts, Katie (June 3, 2014). "Vince Gilligan Says Better Call Saul Might Be a 'Mistake'". Moviefone. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 19, 2014). "Better Call Saul Renewed for Second Season by AMC; First Season Pushed Back to 2015". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Hooten, Christopher (August 11, 2014). "Better Call Saul: First teaser trailer shows younger Saul, confirms release date". The Independent. Archived from the original on December 6, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  12. ^ "The 11 Most Iconic ABQ Locations From Better Call Saul Season 1". NewsCastic. April 7, 2015. Archived from the original on June 26, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  13. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily (February 9, 2015). "Better Call Saul's brilliant first episode, explained in 9 shots". Vox. Archived from the original on June 19, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Potts, Kimberly (February 8, 2015). "Better Call Saul Series Premiere Recap: Meeting Jimmy McGill". Yahoo Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  15. ^ "Uno". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  16. ^ Kain, Erik (February 8, 2015). "Five Reasons You Need To Watch Better Call Saul". Forbes. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Stuever, Hank (January 13, 2015). "Midseason TV 2015: Better Call Saul". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 16, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  18. ^ Marche, Stephen (January 21, 2015). "Better Call Saul Review: The Last Hurrah of Difficult Men". Esquire. Hearst Magazines. Archived from the original on February 7, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  19. ^ Acuna, Kirsten (January 21, 2015). "Breaking Bad Fans Will Love Better Call Saul". Business Insider. Business Insider Inc. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  20. ^ Cornet, Roth (February 2, 2015). "Better Call Saul: 'Uno' Review". IGN. Archived from the original on February 7, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  21. ^ Starr, Michael (February 5, 2015). "Better Call Saul hits the right notes". New York Post. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  22. ^ Bianco, Robert (February 6, 2015). "Better Call Saul does right by 'Bad'". USA Today. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  23. ^ McNamara, Mary (February 6, 2015). "Review: Better Call Saul the real deal, and Odenkirk delivers goods". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  24. ^ Bibel, Sara (February 2, 2015). "Post Super Bowl Episode of The Blacklist Scores as Primetime's Top Broadcast Entertainment Telecast Since the Oscars". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  25. ^ Bibel, Sara (February 3, 2015). "Sunday Final Ratings: The Blacklist Adjusted Down & Final Super Bowl Numbers". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  26. ^ McNary, Dave (February 13, 2016). "WGA Honors Big Short, Spotlight, Mad Men at 68th Awards". Variety. Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  27. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 3, 2017). "ACE Eddie Awards Nominations: Moonlight, La La Land & Deadpool Make Cut". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2022.

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