Two long years after Breaking Bad ended, we've finally returned to the meth-filled landscape of New Mexico. Before we actually arrive in the pre-Heisenberg era Albuquerque, we catch up with Saul Goodman in the present, working at a Cinnabon in Nebraska. Shot in black and white, the opening of the highly anticipated series shows Goodman in a subdued, yet still extremely paranoid state. He returns home, fixes a drink, and turns off the weather report (more snow, just like Walter White himself would have heard while he was in hiding) to watch old commercials for his law firm.
Cut to 2002, where Saul Goodman, going by his real name, Jimmy McGill, is defending three teenagers accused of necrophilia. McGill reasons that this is a simple case of boys being boys, and that technically nobody got hurt. The prosecutor's response is to simply play the tape the teens filmed themselves, of them sawing off a cadaver's head before engaging in sex acts with it. This is the sort of defense (and use of the word "technically") only Saul Goodman would try. Of course, the three teens end up in jail.
After posing as his own secretary and engaging in an embarrassing-to-watch altercation with the parking lot attendant (Mike Ehrmantraut!), he tries desperately to convince the Kettlemans, suspected of embezzling $1.6 million, to use him as their legal representative. They're not entirely convinced, asking to sleep on it, and in a last-ditch effort to sway them, McGill orders a "classy," expensive-looking-but-cheap flower arrangement for them while driving, only to crash into a skateboarder. The skateboarders are trying to hustle him, and in a very "don't hustle the hustler" moment, McGill gets rid of them.
He then returns to his office, possibly the only workplace sketchier than the one we met him in on Breaking Bad, in the back of a nail salon. He finds a check for $26,000 amidst a pile of overdue bills in his mail, which he promptly rips up. We next see him storming obnoxiously into a real law office, where he insists with the partners to cash out his brother, Chuck, who he's convinced will not be returning to the firm. After his unsuccessful meeting with the partners, he leaves the building, dejected, only to discover the Kettlemans meeting with the partners.
Agitated, Jimmy heads to his brother's, checking his watch and cell phone in the mailbox before walking into the house and grounding himself (his brother believes he has electromagnetic hypersensitivity). He argues with Chuck about the buyout, ultimately losing that argument as well. Chuck then suggests Jimmy changes the name of his practice, to avoid confusion with his law firm.
McGill then tracks down the skateboarding scammers, relaying the story of his days known as Slippin' Jimmy, where he would slip and fall to get easy money. He convinces them to con Betsy Kettleman, showing them her car and an intersection she'll drive through at a specific time, to both earn some money for himself and the skaters, but also to screw over the Kettlemans. For the first time all episode, we see that something works for Jimmy, and the car hits the skaters just as planned.
Since nothing ever actually goes as planned for this guy, the car takes off after hitting the skater. They follow the driver to a house, where, instead of Betsy Kettleman exiting the car, it's an elderly Hispanic woman. Having just talked to Jimmy, they know they can earn more money from her since she's just committed a felony, and they begin to harass her despite an obvious language barrier. She goes inside to get "mijo." Mijo is none other than Tuco Salamanca, future enemy of Walt and Jesse, which we learn moments later as Jimmy arrives and Tuco pulls him into the house at gunpoint.
The next episode shows that Tuco's distraught abuelita explains to her grandson what happened, while the skateboarders shout over her to Tuco that there would be problems unless they received money. At one point, they refer to Tuco's dear novella-loving abuelita as a "biznatch," which is a really catastrophic mistake to make when dealing with a member of the Salamanca family. Tuco calms his grandmother upstairs and insists she watch her television show (loudly) while he deals with the situation.
He handles the situation the way any unhinged person would respond to their grandmother being called a "biznatch" -- he bashes their faces in with his grandmother's cane. His abuelita comes to check on things, only to find Tuco cleaning the carpet, where he spilled some "salsa." His grandmother, whose main concern is of course the stain setting on her carpet, insists he uses club soda. After assuring her he would and getting her to return to her novella, he makes a call, asking someone to come over with a van. And that's when Jimmy knocks on the door.
McGill convinces Tuco that this was all, more or less, a misunderstanding, and pleas for the skaters to be spared, if they haven't already been killed. Tuco leads him at gunpoint into the garage, handing James a knife and allowing him to cut them free. As soon as he removes one's gag, the skater outs McGill's whole story, leading them all into the desert where so many will one day lose their lives on Breaking Bad.
Once in the desert, Tuco and his men standing over him, James McGill tries to explain that this was all a misunderstanding; he's a lawyer trying to scam some embezzlers in order to gain their business. Unconvinced, Tuco takes a pair of wirecutters to Jimmy's fingers until he ultimately lies and tells them he's an FBI agent. Upon even more interrogation, he reverts back to the truth, explaining that he's a lawyer, and is finally freed, because it's not a good idea to get on a lawyer's bad side in the meth business.
Once freed, he is about to leave the desert unscathed, but decides to try to save the lives of the skate-scammers since, really, it's his fault they're here in the first place. McGill fabricates a story in true Saul style about their hard-working arthritic mother who would be crushed if her sons died. After some more negotiating, Tuco agrees to only break one leg each.
After then going on a date (in a silent, soundtrack-over-sound scene featuring mostly breadsticks and lipstick-covered straws, the only low point of the two-part premiere), Jimmy returns to his brother's house without grounding himself or removing his cell phone. When he wakes up, Chuck is covered in a space blanket, and he realizes that Chuck has seen the bill for the skaters' hospital visit. He assures him that he's not going back to Slippin' Jimmy days.
Enter another somewhat-weak montage of his everyday life in the courts as a public defender. Then, we see James in his nail salon office, where he's visited by his first client to see him there, Nacho, one of Tuco's "business associates." Nacho is looking to find the $1.6 million the Kettlemans embezzled, and offers McGill a 10% finders fee for helping him. McGill refuses, but Nacho leaves his number and reminds McGill that if he speaks to anyone about this conversation, he'll be killed.
The episodes bring back the glory of the Breaking Bad days without being cheesy or overly nostalgic; there are thrills, laughs, twists, and overall, a strong premise. Saul/Jimmy's willingness to just about anything to establish himself professionally holds promise, especially since we know he doesn't work with the most reputable people. The true highlight is by far the return of Tuco Salamanca, all at once terrifying and hilarious, rejoicing in becoming the "Kingbreaker," cleaning up "salsa" stains, yet also filled with glee as he makes someone's leg bend the wrong way.
If there's one thing we've learned throughout the years, it's that it just isn't Christmas until we've watched a slew of movies putting us in the mood. Nobody puts us in the mood quite like the Brits do. It makes sense, considering the king of the Christmas story, Charles Dickens, is British too. Don't believe us when we say the British do it better? Take a look:
Not the only Dickens adaptations on this list, this musical adaptation has the distinction of toting a Golden Globe. Albert Finney won the statue for his turn as the titular Ebenezor Scrooge in this film that your kids will probably love.
Love Actually (2003)
Every British actor, almost ever, is in this movie: Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Freeman, The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln, and even The Maze Runner's Thomas Brodie-Sangster. The film follows eight different couples as they all work out their love lives during the Christmas season. It's so good that you'll love it without questioning its morality (we're looking at you, Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln). It's simply not the holiday season until you've watched this movie at least once. We recommend weekly viewings.
The Holly and the Ivy (1952)
This underrated classic, named for the traditional British Christmas carol and adapted from the Wynyard Browne play, has more to offer than meets the eye. A clergyman who neglected his children has his issues come to the surface during Christmas. The film poses questions about life and the meaning of the holiday in a way that's notedly part Chekhov and part comedy of manners.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
We're not really into the idea of 'spirit animals,' but if we had one, it would take the form of Bridget Jones. Though this movie isn't technically a holiday movie, the film's premise is fixed on Bridget's New Years' resolution, so it'll help you gear up for that. Plus, Colin Firth wears an ugly Christmas sweater AND plays Mark Darcy, in a nod to his Mr. Darcy days of Pride and Prejudice (the film is a modern adaptation of the Austen novel). It's hilarious and will be your best friend anytime you feel lonely this holiday season. Trust us.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Santa's clumsy son tries to save one girl's Christmas after realizing his father failed to deliver her gift. Arthur Claus sets off on his mission with his grandfather, a rebellious elf, and a team of reindeer in this funny and enjoyable movie. It's a Golden Globe nominated fresh take on the holiday premise, thanks to its high-tech Santa Claus.
An enormous bag of money falls into the hands of a little boy just days before England converts to the Euro (what?). The Euro part might sound a bit strange, but the Danny Boyle-directed film works on multiple levels. It's enjoyable for kids and adults alike. It'll leave you feeling great about mankind, and that's in the spirit of Christmas after all, isn't it?
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
If your kids didn't love the Albert Finney Dickens adaptation, there's always this version, with Michael Caine playing Scrooge along with The Muppets. Kermit the Frog plays Scrooge's business partner, Bob Cratchit. It may not be the best version of the story, but it'll make you laugh and it'll warm your heart. It's also a great way to introduce kids to the classic Dickens tale!
The Holiday (2006)
The Holiday is the sort of movie that's so good, it's perfectly acceptable to watch all year long. At least, we do. Kate Winslet's performance as a woman with a mean case of unrequited love gives us all the feels. She switches houses with unlucky-in-love Cameron Diaz, and along come Jack Black and Jude Law to sweep the ladies (and the viewers) off their feet. Pour a glass (or a bottle) of wine, and enjoy this movie, whether it's the holiday season or not.
Tragic socialite and writer Peaches Geldof's Twitter.com account has been hacked, seven months after her death.
A new message, which appears to promote 'fat-burning' methods, has been published under her name with a link to a Tumblr.com site.
A spokesperson for Peaches' grieving father Bob says, "It's obviously been hacked and is pretty crude."
Sandra Bullock rushed to rescue an extra on the set of her new movie Our Brand Is Crisis after the woman collapsed.
The Gravity star was the first to tend to the sick actress, who reportedly fainted due to heat stroke on Sunday (26Oct14) on the film's set in New Orleans, Louisiana. Pictures obtained by TMZ.com show Bullock assisting the woman, who was lying on the ground, while on-set medical helpers treated her.
Bullock reportedly fanned the extra, who had been wearing thick clothes despite the blazing heat, and gave her water until an ambulance arrived and took her to hospital.
Bullock's co-star Billy Bob Thornton can also be seen watching the incident in the snaps.
Camellia Entertainment/Evil Media Empire
Robin Williams' film career is set to continue despite his death at the age of 63 on Monday (11Aug14).
The Oscar-winning actor passed away in an apparent suicide at his home in Tiburon, California, and he left behind a very active film career, including four projects that are slated to hit the big screen soon.
Williams has two holiday films due for release later this year (14), including indie family comedy Merry Friggin' Christmas, co-starring Lauren Graham, Joel McHale, and Oliver Platt, and he also reprised his role as Teddy Roosevelt for Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which is set to hit cinemas in December (14).
20th Century Fox
In addition, he starred opposite Breaking Bad regular Bob Odenkirk in the drama Boulevard, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year (14), and Williams also loaned his voice as the animated character of Dennis the Dog in Absolutely Anything, a live-action British comedy starring Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale, which is slated for release in 2015.
The comedian was also in talks to reprise his role as the beloved Mrs. Doubtfire in a sequel to the hit 1993 film. Williams, along with director Christopher Columbus, had reportedly met with Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum to polish off a second draft of the script, and they were likely to join the project if talks went well.
Columbus, a longtime friend of Williams, shared his own condolences on Monday, in a statement which reads, "We have lost one of our most inspired and gifted comic minds, as well as one of this generation's greatest actors. To watch Robin work, was a magical and special privilege. "His performances were unlike anything any of us had ever seen, they came from some spiritual and otherworldly place. He truly was one of the few people who deserved the title of 'genius.' "We were friends for 21 years. Our children grew up together, he inspired us to spend our lives in San Francisco and I loved him like a brother. The world was a better place with Robin in it. And his beautiful legacy will live on forever."
Peaches Geldof's elder sister Fifi has posted an expletive-laden rant online urging critics to let the tragic socialite rest in peace following the conclusion of an inquest into her death.
Bob Geldof's model/TV presenter daughter passed away in April (14) after a drug overdose, and an investigation into her death, which wrapped up in Kent, England on Wednesday (23Jul14), concluded she had battled heroin addiction for two-and-a-half years.
The news sparked a storm of debate over the 25-year-old mum-of-two, whose 11-month-old son was left alone for up to 17 hours before her body was found, and comparisons to her own mother, Paula Yates, who also died of a heroin overdose when her children were young.
The criticism prompted a furious reaction from Peaches' sister Fifi, who posted an angry message to her Instagram.com page which reads, "Don't keep calm and f**k this and f**k that. F**k you. F**k off." She added in a caption, "Sums it up nicely about how I'm feeling about the viciousness today. Maybe she'll be allowed to RIP."
When another user commented on her posts, calling Peaches "selfish and sad" for taking drugs with her children in the house, Fifi replied, "You've no idea what you are talking about quite frankly. Yet another who has bought into the bulls**t. I'd appreciate you getting the f**k off my page with stuff like that on today of all days."
Actor Robert Hastings has lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 89.
The McHale's Navy star passed away on Monday (30Jun14) in Burbank, California. Hastings began his career in radio at the age of 11 on shows like The Daily Mirror Radio Gang and Adventures in King Arthurland and he became the voice of popular comic book character Archie Andrews in the 1950s.
In 1949, Hastings moved into TV acting and appeared in several shows, including Sergeant Bilko, The Dukes of Hazzard, All in the Family, General Hospital and Ironside, but his most famous role was that of Lt. Elroy Carpenter on McHale's Navy.
Hastings served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Paying tribute to the beloved actor, his younger brother Don, who stars in U.S. soap As The World Turns, says, "I miss him. He was a great guy. He was a good father and a good husband."
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
A host of stars including Lena Dunham, Mel Brooks and Sandra Bernhard have spoken out to pay their respects to director Paul Mazursky following his death on Monday (30Jun14).
The five-times Oscar nominated director passed away after suffering a pulmonary cardiac arrest. He was 84. Following his death, famous fans and friends took to Twitter.com to share their respect for the Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice filmmaker.
Girls creator Dunham heaped praise on Mazursky for his attitude to women in his films, writing, "Paul Mazursky created the most complex female characters and the most human cinematic moments. He will be missed, he will be emulated."
Blazing Saddles director Brooks shared his fond memories of his peer, adding, "Paul Mazursky- one of the most talented writer/dir.'s to ever make movies- died today. He was our American (Italian director Federico) Fellini. I will miss him dearly."
Comic Bernhard wrote, "The great director #paulmazursky sent me this note "your smart beautiful & talented, what more can a girl ask for. a role in a #paulmazursky film? we'll miss him."
Guardians of the Galaxy screenwriter James Gunn mused, "RIP Paul Mazursky. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is one of my top 10 favorite films. An amazing underrated talent."
It wasn't just Hollywood insiders who mourned Mazursky's passing - record producer Quincy Jones, who penned the score to Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, tweeted, "Rest In Peace to a great director and writer, my friend and collaborator Paul Mazursky. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Love."
Mark Ronson wrote, "Paul Mazursky & I once had a nice exchange right here on Twitter. He also directed Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, one of my favourite films ever."
Mazursky's other films include An Unmarried Woman, Blume in Love, and Harry and Tonto.
Fargo and Orange Is The New Black were the toast of the TV world at Thursday night's (19Jun14) Critics' Choice Television Awards, scooping three prizes each.
The small screen revamp of the Oscar-winning crime film won the prize for Best Mini-Series, while its stars Billy Bob Thornton and Allison Tolman were named Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series and Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series, respectively.
Netflix's hit women's prison series was named Best Comedy Series at the ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, and Uzo Aduba earned the Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series award, while her co-star Kate Mulgrew, tied for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series with Mom's Allison Janney.
Janney also picked up Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series for her recurring role in Masters of Sex. Upon receiving the trophy for Mom, Janney quipped, "Well this is the climax of my career. This is extraordinary. This has been an amazing year for me."
The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons was named Best Actor in a Comedy Series and Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus landed Best Actress in a Comedy Series, while Andre Braugher took the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for police programme Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
In the drama categories, Breaking Bad won Best Drama Series for a second consecutive year, and Aaron Paul picked up Best Supporting Actor for his role in the popular show. Also earning a back-to-back Best Actress win was Tatiana Maslany, who repeated her 2013 triumph for her multiple clone roles in sci-fi show Orphan Black.
Adding to his Oscar win earlier this year (14), Matthew McConaughey went home with the Best Actor honour for True Detective, while Bellamy Young earned Best Supporting Actress as the scheming First Lady on Scandal.
It was also a big night for TV titan Ryan Murphy, whose thriller American Horror Story: Coven earned Jessica Lange the Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series accolade, while his AIDS drama The Normal Heart won two prizes, including Best Movie or Miniseries, and Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series for Matt Bomer.
In addition, Jim Parsons presented his The Normal Heart director with the Louis XIII Genius Award in recognition of his contribution to television. Upon accepting the honour, Murphy recalled the slew of online criticism he received following the announcement of the award, and admitted he tried to back out as a result. He also shared a piece of advice, telling the audience, "The one genius rule I have made in my career is to surround yourself by people more talented than you and then take all the credit. The last part is actually not true."
The awards show was hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and presenters included Colin Hanks, Angie Harmon, Diane Kruger, Sarah Silverman, Christina Applegate and Christian Slater.
Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul has already been greenlit for a second season nearly a year before the series premieres in 2015.
Bosses at America's AMC network have decided to give the show a 13-episode second season, due to air in early 2016. Better Call Saul, a prequel series starring Bob Odenkirk as scheming lawyer Saul Goodman, was originally slated to premiere this November (14), but executives pushed its debut back to early 2015.
Production is already underway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the Emmy-winning drug drama was also shot, and Breaking Bad creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan is slated to direct the season premiere.