AMC has published the first trailer for Better Call Saul’s animated spinoff Slippin’ Jimmy, and it already feels like one too many Breaking Bad spinoffs. The six-part animated series will follow Jimmy and Chuck McGill’s childhood adventures. The visual style will evoke 1970s cartoons like Fat Albert and Peanuts as it explores “Slippin'” Jimmy McGill’s childhood adventures before he enters the legal profession and becomes Saul Goodman.
Rick and Morty animators Starburn Industries produce Slippin’ Jimmy. Ariel Levine co-wrote the season 5 finale of Better Call Saul with Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. Kathleen Williams-Foshee, a script coordinator on Better Call Saul since season 3, joins Levine. While the project has a promising cast, it feels like an unnecessary addition to the Breaking Bad universe.
Better Call Saul could have easily coasted on the popularity of its parent show and the goodwill toward Saul and actor Bob Odenkirk. Instead, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have given the shallow criminal lawyer new depths. Acrimonious relationships with his brother Chuck and Kim have shaped Jimmy’s Saul Goodman persona. There’s no point in going backward in the McGill/Goodman timeline as the show winds down.
Throughout Better Call Saul, many flashbacks to Jimmy and Chuck’s lives illuminate their relationship’s complexities. It’s established early on that Chuck has rescued his brother from many situations. Another flashback shows a young Saul Goodman resenting his gullible father for falling for an obvious con.
Going back to the Goodman brothers’ childhood reveals nothing, and an animated spinoff only serves to cheapen Jimmy and Chuck’s painful breakup.
Since the time of Slippin’ Jimmy, animation has come a long way. After Netflix’s devastating character study, BoJack Horseman, cartoon series are no longer just for kids. So an animated Better Call Saul spinoff makes sense, especially when compared to Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy and Will Arnett’s BoJack Horseman, both career-best performances by actors known for comedy. But Slippin’ Jimmy has a Saturday morning kid’s show vibe. Remember when movies like The Toxic Avenger were rebranded, animated, and merchandised for kids? So, who is this new Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad spinoff for?
AMC, if anyone, needs Slippin’ Jimmy. As the streaming wars heat up, having marketable content pays off. This race to provide sellable content to audiences undermines storytelling. In the same week, Hulu announced the revival of Futurama, which had two emotionally satisfying finales. Bringing it back reduces Fry and Leela’s journey to a commodity. Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and the writers of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have proven to be wise storytellers who value character journeys over quick cash-ins. Because of this, Slippin’ Jimmy feels like a misstep.