Friday, September 28, 2018

Pilot Review: Mr. Inbetween

Mr. Inbetween (FX)
Premiered September 25 at 10pm

I had no idea what to expect from this coproduction from FX and Showcase in Australia, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a very entertaining show with a voice of its own. I’m not at all familiar with actor and series creator Scott Ryan, whose only IMDB credit is the 2005 mockumentary “The Magician” that he starred in, directed, and wrote, which follows the very same Ray Shoesmith we met here. I feel like we’ve seen many other instances of parents leading double lives that they have to hide because of their families, yet this one felt very fresh and worthwhile. The scene where the two young thugs gave Ray attitude in front of his daughter was particularly effective, and he was completely cool the whole time so that he could set a good example for how to deal with rude people. He doesn’t exactly express that same sentiment when it has to do with his friends who have been hurt and there aren’t children around. He obviously has a soft spot for others with families, namely the guy he killed who turned out not to have done what he was told he did, and dropping off whatever was in that envelope was a risky move he probably shouldn’t have taken. Being calm and saying that he doesn’t collect money, just makes those who didn’t pay when they had the chance sorry was very effective, and he is indeed a great quietly terrifying personality. I was pleased to recognize Damon Herriman, who plays Freddy, though I did find him much more entertaining as stupid southerner Dewey Crowe on “Justified.” I’m not sure I’m going to end up watching this show, but it’s much more worthwhile than most of the pilots, both original and imported, that I’ve seen from FX recently.

How will it work as a series? A two-episode premiere is always effective for previewing how a show will work past its pilot, and I’d say that’s a great sign of strength since the quality of the first two installments was pretty much the same, and I actually enjoyed some of the moments in the second episode even better. Ray’s life isn’t going to be easy, but he knows just how to roll the punches and when it’s importing to take the fall for someone else’s porn being discovered.
How long will it last? The reviews are definitely solid, even if the ratings in its debut airing weren’t much to write home about. Having a coproduction like this where episodes air first in the United States is a boon for FX, and I expect that they’ll want to continue with this black comedy which is very much on-brand for them.

Pilot grade: B+

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