Hitman envisions Hollywood career in re-imagined ‘Shorty’ series

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What’s that you say? You need a TV adaptation of “Get Shorty” like you need a bullet to the head?Hey, bullets are

What’s that you say? You need a TV adaptation of “Get Shorty” like you need a bullet to the head?

Hey, bullets are expensive these days, and sometimes you don’t know what you need until you see it, and that’s my way of saying this TV series version of Elmore Leonard’s 1990 novel, which was turned into a memorable 1995 film starring John Travolta and Danny DeVito, stands as its own twisted good time.

Epix’s version is only “partly” based on Leonard’s novel. The names of the characters have been changed; the relationships are different, but the rich, dark premise remains.

Miles Daly (Chris O’Dowd, “Bridesmaids”) is melancholy over the possible end of his marriage. His wife, Katie (Lucy Walters, “Power”), said she wanted a six-month separation, only now she’s extending that indefinitely. He takes his 12-year-old daughter Emma (Carolyn Dodd) out on movie dates, but that’s not nearly enough quality time.

He works in a warehouse. At least, that’s what he tells everyone, and it’s not precisely a lie. There, he and his buddy Lou (Sean Bridgers, “Midnight, Texas”) dispose of a lot of bodies for their boss Amara De Escalones (Lidia Porto, “Major Crimes”), a mobster who delves out lethal retribution to anyone who crosses her. And man, have a lot of people been crossing her. She dotes on her hot-headed nephew Yago (Goya Robles), who, Miles notes, has an online degree and thinks that gives him the right to push people around.

Miles is asking tough questions: “You find this job meaningful?”

“It’s a job in a tough economy,” Lou says.

Sent out to Hollywood to collect a debt, Miles and Lou find their mark is a scriptwriter with a dream script. Now Miles sees a way out of the business. Through a roundabout circumstance involving a sweetly dumb actor, he gets a lead on movie producer Rick Moreweather (Ray Romano, “Everybody Loves Raymond”), now reduced to doing direct-to-DVD genre films and stuck with a star who wonders about his motivation as a yeti attacks his love interest. Rick needs money to shoot Miles’ dream script. And Amara just happens to have a lot of cash she’d like to launder.

“Get Shorty” balances the knife-edge tension of the recent “Ozark” with clever comedic swerves. As Miles makes his case to Amara, knowing at any second Yago could blow his brains out, Amara flips through the blood-stained script and finally says:

“I like John Stamos.”

And who doesn’t?

As a hangdog hitman and a long-suffering auteur, O’Dowd and Romano complement each other. Is Hollywood more cutthroat than a drug empire? This series might have something to say about that.

Epix’s “Get Shorty” is worth having.

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    Article Hitman envisions Hollywood career in re-imagined ‘Shorty’ series compiled by www.bostonherald.com