Don’t Miss ‘Get Shorty’

HOLD FOR EXCLUSIVEJust as “Fargo” successfully advanced the spirit of the original film without exactly duplicating it, the new variation of “Get Shorty” (Epix, 10 p.m.) takes the spirit of the Elmore Leonard novel made into a popular John Travolta movie in 1995.

Set in the present day, Chris O’Dowd plays the mob heavy who suddenly gets interested in Hollywood by shopping a script he took from a victim. Ray Romano plays a wild-haired director who is desperate enough to take him up on it.

They’re both very good, and it’s fun to see them and the cast creating that blend of mob battles and deadpan humor.

“We’ve taken the premise of tough guys, thugs who fall in love with making movies and come to Hollywood,” says creator Davey Holmes. “And outside of that, we wanted the freedom to completely start over with the story and, I think, going back to the book, the tone of Elmore Leonard’s work, which is, you know, a lot of quirky, specific renderings of thugs and finding the humor in what’s human about them — big big, tough guy  killers who get carsick when they read in the car, or have nervous breakdowns, that kind of thing.”

Or as O’Dowd put it at the TV Critics Association summer press tour last month: “The way I like to think about it is that we’re both obviously using the same original material with the book, but it’s like visiting a bar at a different time of the week. So the movie’s kind of like going to a bar on a Saturday night when everybody’s looking well. There are chat up lines. They’re work a treat, and the night is their oyster. And we kind of visit the bar at 3 a.m. on a Thursday, when the floor is kind of sticky. You’re fighting with your girlfriend. And the bar bill’s about to arrive and you can’t afford to pay it. That’s essentially how it feels to me.”

For Romano, it’s another stretch to his career that began in comedy and spread to drama.

“Well, after ‘[Everybody Loves] Raymond,’ I didn’t want to do a sitcom again,” he said. “I always wanted to keep comedy in my work, but yes, I was more attracted to maybe maybe something dramatic. But it was small. It was little baby steps. Because it’s very hard to get people to forget that character they’ve seen for nine years.

“I’m very insecure about all of this, and it’s a learning process. And with each job I get, with each role I take, I kind of discover that I can do something, you know, a little more, a little more dramatic.

“When I did ‘Vinyl’ last year, or two years ago, I was delving into something very dark, and I had no idea whether I could pull it off or whether I did pull it off.

“It’s fun to try it. And whether or not I can do it is still yet to be seen. I still feel like I’m learning and growing in this non comedic area.”

But there are still plenty of laughs in the series, the best yet for Epix.


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