O’Dowd is wonderful: nailing the deadpan humour, of course, and a sort of sad-sack naiveté, but also producing flashes of real menace when necessary.
His (literal) partner in crime is Louis (Sean Bridgers from Deadwood and Rectify) and by the end of the first episode the two – through a labyrinthine and ludicrous chain of events – have hooked up with straight-to-DVD movie producer Rick Moreweather (Ray Romano).
Holmes and his writers have a deliciously light touch, and the fabulous cast makes the most of it, shifting effortlessly between comedy, pathos and sometimes shocking violence, and in the process creating an ensemble of fascinating and strangely loveable characters.
Even the evil crime matriarch Amara is weirdly appealing. As with all Leonard’s work, this is a world of misfits and miscreants, all of whom have an eye for a quick buck and an easy scam.
But they all do it with a sort of enthusiasm and something almost like innocence. They certainly all feel very human, and just when we think we’ve met this type before, they surprise us.
There is also a lot of fun to be had in Romano’s Moreweather introducing Miles and Louis to the realities of Hollywood, and even more when those realities smash into the alternate reality of Amara’s crime empire – not to mention her expectations.
Holmes doesn’t mind messing with us a little, sometimes in obvious ways (a show within a show) and sometimes more subtly by not so much breaking the fourth wall as tweaking the curtain a little.
Plus – like so much TV these days – Get Shorty is impeccably made. The cinematography, the editing and the production design are all terrific.
The Nevada desert and Amara’s tatty casino look about as end-of-the-earth as you could imagine, while you can smell the dust, stale cigarette smoke and desiccated dreams in Moreweather’s corner of Hollywood. Utterly involving, and thoroughly entertaining.
Anne with an E
Often when a beloved book migrates to the screen, we’re disappointed. Especially when the transition involves messing with major plot points, like Anne With an E does to iconic novel, Anne of Green Gables.
But so deft and sympathetic is showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett’s touch that even a revolutionary departure like sparing Matthew Cuthbert’s life somehow feels okay within the alternate Avonlea Walley-Beckett has created.
Other re-imaginings are not only less confronting, they’re hugely satisfying, like giving Gilbert Blythe a whole, alternative journey – although I hope at some point he still becomes a doctor.
At the same time, the creative team continues to mine key elements from the first book in the series, sometimes in the form of plot points, and sometimes simply in the exquisitely innocent and intensely “romantical” universe author Lucy Maud Montgomery so richly evoked.
SBS On Demand
Borgen’s Birgitte Hjort Sorrensen stars in this gripping new Scandi techno-thriller as the developer of a state-of-the-art drone (intended for peaceful, world-enhancing purposes) who finds herself in deep espionage waters.
There’s a great cast of tough female characters, some fascinating villains, and a pacey, complex plot centering around an imminent terrorist threat to Sweden that keeps you well and truly hooked.
Sure, it has the believability factor of Homeland or 24. But with all 10 episodes available to view, it’s also perfect binge material.
The City and the City
It takes a long time – like, a really long time – for this to become intelligible. It is, after all, based on the novel of the same name by China Mieville, the master of “WTF”.
Once you get into its distinctive sensibility, though, it’s as compelling as it is creepy.
David Morrissey is a police inspector in the grimy city of Beszel, and one layer of this is straight-up police procedural. His investigation takes place across two sort of alternate dimensions – but not really. Keep watching and it will all make sense…
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are back, with some surprising moves both in and out of the ring.
As we get to know the various characters (and there are lots of them – it’s a wonderful ensemble), the ups and downs, twists and turns become even more satisfying.
Zoya the Destroya (the delightful Alison Brie) and Liberty Belle (Betty Gilpin) are trying to flex their feminist muscles in very different ways, but finding the strength and moves to crack the patriarchy is their toughest throw-down yet.
SBS On Demand
NAIDOC week is approaching, which means there’s a whole host of terrific Indigenous-themed documentaries and dramas on both NITV and SBS On Demand.
And then there’s this glorious sketch comedy, originally made for the ABC, which celebrates our First People in a whole different way.
Cheeky, irreverent, rocking with outlandish physical humour and with just a dash of politics, it’s a delightful reminder that Australia was home to a whole lot of larrikins well before the whitefella arrived.
The complete first season is available to view now.
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