Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

S’all good man: Series kicks off final season Monday

The final season of “Better Call Saul” is starting April 17. Edward Candelaria, pictured along with his partner, own the Breaking Bad store, which has everything in the Breaking Bad Universe. (Roberto E. Rosales/ )

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Hey Albuquerque! It’s Saul Goodman.

For five seasons, viewers have watched the transformation of Jimmy McGill into the sleazy, yet quick-witted lawyer Goodman.

Viewers were given a glimpse of where Goodman – played by Emmy winner Bob Odenkirk – ends up in “Breaking Bad.”

Beginning Monday, as “Better Call Saul” begins the first half of its final season, the timelines of the two critically acclaimed shows will intersect. The season premiere will be two episodes beginning at 7 pm on AMC.

Both Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston will reprise their roles as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White during the final season.

The universe that creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould created has been a juggernaut in popular culture for over a decade.

The characters are now referenced in daily lexicon by many.

Through each season of both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” Albuquerque remains a central character—and continues to reap the benefits.

Part of The Breaking Bad Store is museum-like, giving visitors the chance to see plenty of memorabilia from both “Breaking Bad” and the spinoff, “Better Call Saul.” (Roberto E. Rosales/ )

‘Fandom continues to grow’

Edward Candelaria and Marq Smith-Candelaria are the masterminds behind The Breaking Bad Store in Old Town.

The brick-and-mortar space opened in a 500-square-foot location in Old Town on Jan. 2, 2020.

It has since moved twice – now located at 2047 S. Plaza St. NW in Old Town and nearly tripling its size.

The store sells everything from novena candles with “Breaking Bad” or “Better Call Saul” characters to drawings and salt and pepper shakers. Part of the store is museum-like, where visitors can snap photos and see plenty of memorabilia from both series.

Candelaria hears from customers from all points of the world.

“Last week, a couple got married in the store,” Candelaria said. “There have been people that have rerouted their road trips just to make a special trip to the filming sites of both shows.”

Candelaria admits he didn’t start watching “Breaking Bad” until the third season, which is when the show’s profile rose.

The pair are full-fledged fans now, even being invited by Gilligan himself to the Los Angeles premiere last week.

Candelaria continues to host viewing parties and will once again begin those with the season six premiere on Monday. The event will be at Tractor Brewing-Wells Park.

“We have a big screen there to watch and during commercial breaks, we have auctions,” he said. “A lot of what we raise goes to the Cardboard Playhouse Theater Company.”

On April 23, at the store, Candelaria will host the villainous Salamanca twins, played by Daniel and Luis Moncada, from the series. It’s a free event that’s open to the public. Each visitor will be able to take a photo and get an autograph.

“We try to do these events because the fandom continues to grow,” Candelaria said. “We’re always doing something to keep the buzz going.”

There is also the Breaking Bad RV Tours, which provide a three-hour film location tour of both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.” Walking around Old Town, many storefronts have some items for sale with either series emblazoned on it.

A nod to Los Pollos Hermanos, the fictional restaurant that came to be known in “Breaking Bad,” is among the things to see at the Breaking Bad store in Old Town. (Roberto E. Rosales/)

‘A global calling card’

Having a hit series also raises the profile of the state’s film industry.

The New Mexico Film Office says there is always a goal of having a series return for multiple seasons.

“Having a major network series like ‘Better Call Saul’ produced in New Mexico for five seasons, is a global calling card for our state and an economic boon for our residents and businesses,” said Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director. “Typically TV series are on the ground for longer period of time than feature films, which equates to more direct and indirect spend into the local economy. Additionally, the proven trend for the past 10 years is that there is more of, if not an insatiable demand for television series, and further, production budgets for series have been increasing at a very high rate as audiences are accustomed to, and are desiring higher production quality and more star talent.

“All of this is to say that ‘Better Call Saul’ and its impact on New Mexico is immensely positive, and long-term, and signals to the industry that some of the best entertainment in the history of television was made here, so naturally that show has and continues to attract more productions.”

Dodson said the film office strives to keep a pipeline full of all types of projects with an array of budgets, from shorts to indies to studio tentpoles, as a diversity in projects opens doors for up-and-coming talent, crew and filmmakers.

“It’s probably safe to say that just about every production with a budget has some kind of positive impact, whether it’s sourcing food from a restaurant, or buying truckloads of lumber each month for six consecutive months, or employing a local actor,” Dodson said .

Both pilots and first seasons for “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” were filmed in New Mexico and stayed here for the long haul, which is common.

“In the past couple of years, we have seen projects actually relocate to New Mexico after shooting a first season elsewhere – this is a testament to New Mexico’s momentum, and our amazing workforce, incentive, infrastructure and businesses,” Dodson said.

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