Having seen previews of Sky Atlantic’s new drama Hit and Miss, my initial thought was: too much going on? I mean we’ve got orphans, we’ve got a dysfunctional family, we’ve got gender and sexuality politics AND we’ve got a hit woman? That’s quite a lot to pack in to 50 minutes. Three of those I can see working but all in one…well it sounds kind of like Wes Anderson meets Quentin Tarantino in the Yorkshire Dales, and I for one can’t imagine how that would pan out.
In reality, not a lot went on. Perhaps an outcome of so many core themes, episode one really didn’t make it out of exposition zone at all. Which is odd considering something like Game of Thrones can introduce 20 central characters through insightful scripting and still have time for a twist or two. Here, though dialogue was economical to say the least, rather than speeding the progression of the drama it led to a series of related but artlessly sequenced scenes that felt awkward and disjointed. I’m sure the relationships formed were intentionally awkward; not so sure the staging was meant to be.
The premise itself is fine, if a little far-fetched. Mia is a hit woman in an undefined and undisclosed part of Britain (northern England judging by the accents – no idea why Mia’s Irish, perhaps Chloe Sevigny couldn’t perfect Yorkshire?) who hears from an old flame upon her deathbed that she sired a son in her previous life as a man. After having left a fairground? For sparse dialogue, I didn’t quite understand the point of that inane detail. She decides to enter into the life of deceased girlfriend’s children. Which is pretty much all that happens apart from two hits and a punch up.
In the show’s defence, the part I thought would be hardest to fit in, the assassin, actually worked fairly well. As Mia becomes more involved with the family unit, seeds of moral doubt are sowed over her choice of career, which are mitigated to an extent by the cash she provides for the children. I’m sure in later episodes that way in which she raises the kids will also be called into question, but for this week the highlight of the episode was definitely beating the bully landlord to a pulp and forcing her son to join in. Girl Power!
The main issue I had with the first episode was the feel of it. The show feels, to me, American, but the setting is quite deliberately British, and the juxtaposition seems jarring. The shots, music, production values and big name star all smack of a US drama and don’t fit all that well with grotty pubs and dilapidated farms. And Sevigny, while I’m sure is acting remarkably, is dressed as Sevigny. Probably my greatest enjoyment came from her outfits but I’m not sure I believe a hit woman would dress like that. Perhaps as the drama progresses I’ll get used to it. Let’s hope so.
Hit and Miss airs on Sky Atlantic, Tuesdays at 10pm