STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

For 'Breaking Bad' and 'Downton Abbey,' 'the end' wasn't

Aaron Paul will return as Walter White's protégé, Jesse Pinkman, in "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" on Netflix

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 6:10 AM
Updated: Oct 10, 2019 6:10 AM

For "Breaking Bad" and "Downton Abbey," it turns out "The end" wasn't. In fact, with a robust appetite for content based on established titles, it's increasingly just the beginning.

There was no reason to clamor for more "Breaking Bad" after the finale in 2013, which brought closure and a measure of redemption to the central character -- and more than 10 million viewers to AMC. Ditto for "Downton Abbey," which didn't tie up every loose end but set up enough happily ever afters to leave a solid sense of satisfaction.

These days, however, nothing that's popular can be assured of resting in peace. All of which explains why "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" cruises into select theaters and onto Netflix this weekend, a mere three weeks after "Downton Abbey" topped the box-office, amassing nearly $140 million worldwide thus far.

To the extent series finales are generally designed to close the books on shows, these zombie spinoffs -- returning from the dead, as they are -- can require considerable creativity.

Not everything lends itself to revivals, and there are challenges reassembling casts, especially for the longer commitments associated with series. (Even Fox's recent "BH90210" return was billed as an event and ran a mere seven episodes.)

Small wonder that many familiar titles have resorted to prequels, from "The Sopranos" movie that's due next year to HBO's planned "Game of Thrones" spinoffs.

Movies offer another way to potentially cash in on nostalgia, while attracting talent with less demanding production schedules. "El Camino" stars Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman, and picks up after the events in the original series. ("Better Call Saul," which currently airs on AMC, is a prequel to the flagship show.)

Speaking of zombies, "The Walking Dead" coyly jettisoned the Rick Grimes character, before announcing that star Andrew Lincoln would continue playing him in a series of movies intended to further expand that franchise.

The longer the lapse, theoretically, the greater the nostalgia factor, although producers have sometimes waited too long to bring back properties. A second "The X-Files" movie, subtitled "I Want to Believe," landed with a dull thud in 2008, grossing a little over $20 million in the U.S.

What seems apparent is that most of these trips into the way-back machine are easier to justify commercially than creatively. It's difficult enough to meet the expectations raised by ending a hit series, without digging it up and trying to stick the landing again.

"Downton Abbey" enjoyed widespread critical praise on PBS, but the movie received notably mixed reviews. Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara summed up the larger conundrum, writing, "Why, in this age of cinematic television, and after such debacles as the 'Sex and the City' movies, 'The X-Files' and (shudder) 'The Powerpuff Girls,' why do we keep tacking movies onto the end of perfectly good television shows?

"Answer: Because the fans."

Indeed, as long as fans exhibit a willingness to ante up for the initial rush of recognition that these projects provide, producers and studios will eagerly seek to fill the void.

As for the creative hurdles that raises, it remains to be seen whether "El Camino" has the right formula to clear them. But either way, it's further evidence that when future finales say "The End," the unspoken disclaimer, going forward, is "For Now."

"El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" premieres Oct. 11 on Netflix and in select theaters.

Terre Haute
Scattered Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Robinson
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 71°
Indianapolis
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 68°
Casey
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Brazil
Scattered Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Marshall
Scattered Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Evening thunderstorms!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday: Afternoon thunderstorms, heat index: ~100. High: 88

Image

ISU students moving onto campus

Image

Parents respond to VCSC plan

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Sister responds to ACLU lawsuit

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Terre Haute South volleyball team, coaching staff placed in quarantine

Image

ISU Postpones 2020 football season

Image

Local small business creating custom masks for kids

Image

Knox County holds Watermelon Festival

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 195380

Reported Deaths: 7845
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1114474928
Lake12670446
DuPage12233520
Kane9759305
Will9236344
St. Clair4006161
Winnebago3779131
McHenry3189114
Madison259176
Kankakee178268
Rock Island174536
Champaign166919
Peoria160735
Kendall137723
Unassigned1368209
Sangamon124733
DeKalb93630
LaSalle76624
Boone76523
Jackson71719
McLean65115
Macon62423
Adams5195
Tazewell5188
Coles47220
Randolph4647
Ogle4105
Clinton40717
Williamson3996
Whiteside35517
Stephenson3276
Grundy3235
Union32123
Monroe31813
Knox2991
Jefferson28619
Iroquois26311
Morgan2496
Henry2341
Vermilion2342
Cass23111
Bureau2053
Warren1900
Perry1841
Macoupin1793
Franklin1780
Lee1711
Montgomery1707
Marion1560
Effingham1551
Woodford1513
McDonough14315
Christian1424
Saline1322
Jo Daviess1251
Douglas1162
Livingston1152
Logan1120
Jersey1052
Pulaski931
Clark822
Shelby791
Mercer754
Moultrie730
White680
Johnson670
Fayette663
Washington660
Piatt610
Wayne611
Bond603
Jasper597
Carroll564
Menard560
Cumberland552
Hancock531
Gallatin512
Ford492
Lawrence470
Mason470
Greene430
Massac390
Alexander370
Wabash350
De Witt330
Fulton330
Crawford290
Hamilton290
Edgar280
Marshall260
Clay230
Pike210
Scott210
Richland190
Edwards180
Hardin180
Schuyler180
Brown140
Putnam130
Henderson120
Calhoun90
Pope90
Stark70
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206