TV Review – Get Shorty (2017-19)

Loosely based on the 1990 novel by Elmore Leonard, Chris O’Dowd stars as the gangster-turn-movie-producer Miles Daly, who attempts to juggle the life of a Hollywood filmmaker with his established career in a Nevada crime ring. He’s got the muscle, the brains, the charisma; that Irish charm that puts everyone under his thumb (or if that doesn’t work, blackmail); he’s a good liar and knows how to work the books. However, that doesn’t make it smooth sailing for Miles and his jolly-yet-dangerous sidekick Louis “Lou-Lou” Darnell (Sean Bridgers). Their transition from gangster-muscle to movie-making is never clear-cut – forever tied to their violent past and the financial gain it can bring to production.

The first season of Get Shorty, created by Davy Holmes, follows Miles as he gets his foot in the door of Hollywood. Teaming up with struggling B-movie producer Ricky Moreweather (Ray Romano), his buddy Lou-Lou and blackmailed love-interest April Quinn (Megan Stevenson), our protagonist pours his soul into the making of his first flick “The Admirals Mistress”. But with no experience, where will he find the money to finance such an expensive period piece? Well, that’s where crime-boss Amara (Lidia Porto) comes in…

With a brutal and demanding drug ring secretly investing in the film, Miles and Louis must tread carefully on the line that divides their double-lives. In keeping with the characters hectic lives, Get Shorty runs on a quick tempo, busy with fast-paced action and subtle, constant humour. This carries on through to season three, flicking between characters on the run, in jail or negating with the cartel. Albeit the third season meanders into a few too many subplots, the urgency and grit are still strong throughout, urging his to pray for the success of Miles’s new project “Wylderness”.

Get Shorty is self-mocking and packed with dark, deadpan humour, cleverly exposing the similarities between Hollywood and the cartel. Miles uses the same methods favoured by Amara to climb the ladder and become top-dog of a major production company – hitmen, blackmail and a clear chain of command. Although Miles claims to be leaving his thuggish days behind him – pursuing a real, legal career to win back his family – he still elects to work in a corrupted industry, using corrupted techniques. Miles is his own worst enemy, never satisfied with how popular (or unpopular) his films are or how expensive his LA house is. Perhaps, in a rumoured season four, Miles will finally learn his lesson and complete his hero’s journey. Or else, be forever targeted under the watch of the coyote…

That said, Miles and Louis – alongside their oblivious, bumbling friend (or sometimes enemy) Rick – make a loveable and comic trio, despite their questionable morals. They are equally well-intentioned and do all they can to protect their families. A fist-fighting, chain-smoking hit-man who mediates with crystals; his partner in crime, the Mormon – Get Shorty is full of whacky, contradicting characters, allowing for adventurous plot-lines and unexpected twists.

With an air of Breaking Bad about the show – a manipulative gangster protagonist, loosing his family in search for power; the cartel; the Nevada desert – Get Shorty balances it’s dark tones with funny characters inhabiting heart-warming ambitions. Even the villains can’t help but grow on you, with Amara doing anything for her unexpected lover, and wannabe ringleader Yago (Goya Robles) helping Miles out during their prison sentence. Miles may be a failing father who constantly uses people, but his power-moves are cleverly entertaining – such as offering a scone to the cartel over afternoon tea, or leaving pickled limbs in the bathroom of a pervert.

Get Shorty is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime (as is the 1995 film adaptation starring John Travolta, Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito). Set among the sunny Hollywood hills of LA, Get Shorty makes anything feel possible for those who are willing to risk it all. But at what price?