Get Shorty (Season One – 2017)

Get Shorty the TV series? As a script writer for hire and UK script consultant I have a long lasting obsession with Elmore Leonard’s novel (including at some point in the late 1990s making my own indie film version of the story – set in Leeds?)

I remember buying the hardback book of Get Shorty in Waterstones in Leeds when I was in my teens; I’d just left school at 16, and was a wannabe writer and filmmaker working in a camera shop. The book cover jumped out at me as I walked through the crime section on my way to purchase a book on directing. I opened the book and started reading, I haven’t stopped much since.

This TV series (now in its third season) doesn’t have a great deal to do with the actual novel, but instead it follows the basic concept of a criminal getting involved with the Hollywood film business, and using skills learned from a life of crime to great effect in tinsel town – it’s also a comedy like the novel, but still retains the real sense of threat that the Travolta movie version kind of lost.

I binged the first season in a week or so and really enjoyed it. There are some great script writing jokes, and we get to see a lot of talented performers do some very good work – Chris O’Dowd is the Irish gangster and movie buff, he’s funny and tough, but look out for Ray Romano (lose my number please) and the real surprise of the series – Sean Bridger as Louis Darnell – Louis feels like a genuine Elmore Leonard character who has wondered in from another book, and Bridger for me, slyly gives the best and funniest performance in the series, while his  character retains a completely deadly streak. A sub plot sees Louis also sweetly falling in love and not having sex (he’s a Mormon) it’s a clever, layered performance and great bit of writing too (Elmore would approve).

The threat? It’s a woman mob boss, and another fab bit of writing and acting. Towards the end of the series an episode is almost overtaken by a ‘juicer’ not lingo for a drug user or loan shark, but an actual juicer– that’s right a high tech piece of kitchen ware.  The scene with the juicer is surprisingly true to life, and says as much about LA and the movie biz as anything else in the series. It really rings true.

I’d recommend the series, especially for wannabe script writers who are shown taking up every place in most LA coffee shops, laptops open, typing away, on scripts that nobody will ever read.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

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