“Better Call Saul” won’t debut until next year, but the “Breaking Bad” prequel has already received a second season order from AMC.
AMC announced the order of a 13-episode second season on Thursday, bringing the total number of “Better Call Saul” episodes to 23. At the same time, the network announced that the series would debut later than originally planned. “Better Call Saul” was originally slated for a November premiere, but AMC is pushing the show back until early 2015, citing unspecified variables that would make a later debut better. Production is already underway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it is unclear if or how the delayed release will affect shooting for the first season.
Despite the delay, AMC seems confident about “Better Call Saul.”
“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," AMC president Charlie Collier said in a statement.
"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. 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,” Collier continued, making a reference to “Breaking Bad.”
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The “Breaking Bad” prequel follows the misadventures of lawyer Saul Goodman before he met Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Bob Odenkirk is reprising his role as Saul alongside fellow “Breaking Bad” alum Jonathan Banks, who will once again play the ex-cop enforcer Mike Ehrmantraut. “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan will direct the first episode and co-executive produce the series with Peter Gould.
Pushing the show back leaves AMC light on original programming for the fall of 2014 and beyond. “The Walking Dead” and “Hell on Wheels” will return to AMC in the fall, but unlike most networks that launch new shows around September, AMC will not have a new series to pair them with.
AMC’s recent crop of new shows has been underwhelming, as well. Last fall’s “Low Winter Sun” was canceled after only one season, and this year’s “Turn” and “Halt and Catch Fire” have yet to receive second season orders. “Halt,” the Hollywood Reporter notes, is pulling particularly low numbers, bringing in only 765,000 viewers. “The Walking Dead,” by contrast, lured more than 15 million viewers to its season finale. Even “Mad Men,” which has attracted some undue attention for low ratings, pulls in 2.5 million viewers. If AMC’s low numbers continue, “Better Call Saul” could be the network’s only original series to get a second season in more than a year.
If nothing else, AMC always has the coming unscripted series “Untitled Billy Corgan Wrestling Project," a reality show about the Smashing Pumpkins lead singer's curious outreach program in Chicago, to fall back on.