Bob Oderkirk Follows Up ‘Better Call Saul’ as a Pain-in-the-Ass in a Midlife Crisis

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Bob Odenkirk gave arguably the finest television performance of the past decade on Better Call Saul, transforming small-time attorney Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) from an entertainingly sleazy Breaking Bad supporting player into a complex protagonist caught between his better and lesser angels. It was a turn for the ages, and confirmed that Odenkirk, who first hit it big in sketch comedy alongside David Cross with Mr. Show with Bob and David, wasn’t just a talented funnyman; he was a dramatic actor of the highest caliber, one capable of infusing morally tangled-up characters with endearing bitterness, desperation, sorrow, regret, and wit.

Jimmy McGill was an unqualified triumph, which also makes him a tough act to follow. Now, in the wake of Better Call Saul’s superb conclusion, Odenkirk attempts to do just that—on AMC, the same network as his last two shows – with Lucky Hank.. An hour-long dramedy, the series just premiered at the SXSW Festival, ahead of its Mar. 19 debut on AMC. It stars the leading man as William Henry “Hank” Devereaux, Jr., an English professor and department chair at Pennsylvania’s Railton College. Sporting a salt-and-pepper beard, nondescript spectacles and the sorts of collared-shirts-with-a-jacket attire that’s the uniform of so many in his profession, Hank looks like your average educator. Unsurprisingly, he’s anything but.

Adapted from Richard Russo’s novel Straight Man by Paul Lieberstein (aka Toby from The Office) and Aaron Zelman—along with executive-producer Bobby Farrelly, who helms the eight-episode season’s initial two hours—Lucky Hank immediately establishes Hank as an outlier when, during yet another dreary class, he’s incapable of uttering an engaged word to his students, including Bartow (Jackson Kelly), who’s just read aloud his latest underwhelming paper. When pressed to say something, Hank lets loose, slamming Bartow’s work as subpar and the university itself as “mediocrity’s capital.” In that brutal assessment, he spares no one, from students to faculty members to himself, admitting that even if Bartow did have a flicker of inspiration (which he doesn’t think is true), he wouldn’t be able to bring it out of the kid.

Read more at The Daily Beast.