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Better Call Saul emerges from Breaking Bad’s shadow, becomes cable’s top new show

If you tuned in to Better Call Saul on AMC to find out how the cheesy, shady lawyer extraordinaire from Breaking Bad became reliable ol’ Saul Goodman, you weren’t alone. In fact, you were joined by millions of others who ate up the inaugural season’s 10-episode run.

The first season, which wrapped up last Sunday, April 5, raked in an average of 5.9 million viewers, reports Variety. But perhaps more important is that the majority (3.7 million) fell into that all-important 18-49 demographic, according to the Nielsen figures that Variety cited; 3.6 million were aged 25-54. Despite a small decline in the second week, the ratings remained pretty high through the remaining eight episodes and into the finale, which attracted 5.1 million viewers. This made Better Call Saul the number-one new cable TV show in live-plus-three figures (live viewing plus estimates of three days worth of DVR playback).

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As a spinoff to the hugely popular AMC series Breaking Bad, which wrapped up in 2013 (has it really been that long?) Better Call Saul could have gone either way: tainting the stellar reputation of the beloved show from which it spawned, or leaving viewers wanting more. It seems the show has managed to accomplish the latter.

While standing completely on its own — someone who never saw Breaking Bad could easily watch without feeling that they’re missing out — it also offers a fantastic build-up of a character who Breaking Bad fans know eventually becomes the greasy Saul Goodman, with great attention to the back-story explaining why. Clearly, the team behind the show knew all that was riding on it, and brought out the big guns.

It didn’t hurt that AMC promoted the heck out of the show prior to its official launch on February 8 and 9 in a back-to-back two-nighter. The fact that the first episode aired opposite The Walking Dead, also helped get viewers hooked.

Currently, Better Call Saul is the third AMC series to make it to the top-five list of cable TV shows, alongside The Walking Dead, and Talking Dead (Chris Hardwick’s talk show about the zombie program that follows each episode.)

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Bob Odenkirk has proven himself a viable leading man, and writer Vince Gilligan and team have shown their ability to crank out another hit in the drug-dealing, law-skirting genre. Better Call Saul is a great show that, like Breaking Bad, will demonstrate a man’s slow slip from good guy to bad apple.