While international TV is happy to dabble with the running time of drama series, Australian TV has been far more reluctant to stray from the conventional 1 hr format.
Enter Mr. Inbetween a new half hour drama from writer / star Scott Ryan, screening on Showcase.
Ryan stars as hitman Ray Shoesmith, who moonlights in club security when he isn’t running shake-downs for shady bosses. The series has its roots in a self-funded indie film around the character, The Magician (so titled because Ray makes people disappear), which caught the attention of director Nash Edgerton. Together with producers Jungle Entertainment, it is now a 6 part series with the rare distinction of screening on FX in the US.
Quite what the yanks will make of Ray and his larrikin mates (and especially the colloquial dialogue) will be interesting to observe.
Ray is a smiling assassin, a 40-something hitman who heavies low-lifes for the $10,000 they owe his boss, usually secured by threats and intimidation rather than physical violence. Watch for a dark comedy scene in which pal Gary (Justin Rosniak) needs him to fess up to his Russian wife for supposedly owning a porno she uncovered…
Yet Scott Ryan has also given Ray a flawed side, and entreats our sympathies. He is father to young daughter Brittany (Chika Yasumura) from his an estranged marriage, and a considerate brother to Bruce (Nicholas Cassim), who is battling motor neurone disease.
The gorgeous Brooke Satchwell becomes a love interest when Ray meets paramedic Ally in a local dog park, leading to an engagingly natural relationship, but one with a secret.
Across the series Damon Herriman, Firass Dirani, Matt Nable and Jackson Tozer appear, and there are cameos by directors Kriv Stenders and David Michod.
The series is surprisingly strong given the star’s belated arrival. Ryan underplays Ray to considerable effect, holding his own beside seasoned actors. I don’t remember the last time a new series hung so much off a newcomer, but in Edgerton’s hands, Ryan totally pulls it off.
Mr. Inbetween, which packs a punch in its later episodes, feels like an indie film in snack-size chapters. Thanks to the dialogue and performances, it also arrives as a quintessentially Australian yarn. Scott Ryan is a name to watch.
8:30pm Monday October 1 on Showcase.