1. Leave Breaking Bad out of this.
The worst thing a spin-off can do is taint the original. With a show as critically acclaimed as Breaking Bad, that might be tough. But shit happens, and the easiest way to avoid tampering with Breaking Bad’s legacy is to make sure the spin-off is its own series entirely. Make it about Saul Goodman, and resist the temptation to have Breaking Bad characters show up in cameos. (If any of them survive the series finale, that is.)
2. But do maintain Breaking Bad’s tone.
Despite being one of the most suspenseful, high-stakes shows on television, Breaking Bad is also consistently hilarious. In part, that’s thanks to Saul (and the brilliant Bob Odenkirk), but it’s also a credit to the writers who have imbued the series with a darkly comedic tone from the beginning. Instead of trying to make the spin-off a straight comedy, why not strive for the same mix of heavy drama and surprising humor?
3. Maintain Saul’s balance between being a joke and being good at what he does.
One of the most fascinating things about Saul is that he’s both ridiculous and ridiculously competent. You may not approve of his methods, but if you desperately needed a lawyer — especially for a crime you did commit — you’d want to call Saul. He is not a great lawyer in terms of his principles, but he’s a great lawyer when it comes to getting his clients off. That’s essential to his character.
4. Have Saul relocate.
We’ve done New Mexico. Breaking Bad’s aesthetic is so distinct that trying to mimic it would feel wrong. Instead, let’s transplant Saul elsewhere. How would he fare in a city like Chicago or Miami or Los Angeles? The criminal element would be different, providing new conflict for the show, and the first season could follow Saul reestablishing contacts and gaining trust among the city’s seedy underbelly. I’d watch that.
5. Avoid redemption.
That shouldn’t be too tough for most cable channels, which pride themselves on antiheroes and moral ambiguity. Still, Saul is going to need an arc, and redemption can be tempting. Hopefully the writers can find something more interesting to try with the character — a way to push him forward without pushing him toward some artificial salvation. We already like Saul even though we know he’s crooked. There’s no reason to set him straight.
6. Give Bob Odenkirk some creative control.
He’s an amazing comedian and writer — surely he can bring something fresh to this spin-off. While his absurdist humor might not mesh with Breaking Bad’s style, a new show could give Odenkirk (and creator Vince Gilligan) a chance to try something different. And letting the actor bring even more Odenkirk into the character of Saul might be exactly what the spin-off needs to distinguish itself from its predecessor.