Hit & Miss, the miniseries that played on Sky last year in the UK and on DirecTV in the US, hit North American DVD this week, thanks to the Canadian label BFS Entertainment.
The six-part drama's main protagonist is a transgender Irish hitwoman named Mia, played by American actress Chloe Sevigny, who clearly relished playing the part.
Paul Abbott, one of Britain's favourite dramatists (Shameless, Cracker, State of Play), explains in the extras that he ended up creating Hit & Miss by combining two stories that were sitting on his desk, one about a hitman and the other about a transsexual's family life.
What I found most interesting about Hit & Miss was how it is reminiscent of other TV series - on both sides of the Atlantic - about dysfunctional families, as well as Neil Jordan films.
• [the aforementioned] Shameless: Both the Gallaghers and Mia's new family are left without the mother who raised the children. Mia reluctantly becomes a mother figure when she learns that Wendy, her former girlfriend when she was male, has died of cancer and her last wish was for Mia to be their son's and his three half-siblings' guardian in rural Yorkshire. The oldest sister Riley, 16, is very similar to Shameless's Fiona; neither wants to be raising their brothers and sisters, but feel a certain responsibility to do so.
• Weeds: Another mum with an odd job, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) the southern Californian pot dealer vs. Mia the hit-woman. They both constantly have to watch their backs, and protect their families.
• The Crying Game & Breakfast On Pluto: The former was essentially an IRA story, in which Fergus, an already ambivalent soldier played by Stephen Rea, falls in love with Dil, a girl with something extra. Jordan then revisits the subject with transgendered Patrick "Kitten" Braden (played by Cillian Murphy) unwittingly gets caught up in the IRA cross-fire (she just wants to be loved), and is sensationalized by the British tabloids as an IRA terrorist disguised as a woman.
• The Riches: In Eddie Izzard's tour de force, two-season series (2007-2008), as a grifter, he's not the one in drag, rather his youngest son flirts with cross-dressing, as does Mia's progeny in Hit & Miss.
• The Crying Game and Hit & Miss: There are pivotal karaoke bar scenes in both with Dil mouthing the words to the title torch ballad in the former, and Sevigny nailing Morrissey's "Let Me Kiss You," a performance that connects with her new hunky friend Ben, the same effect that Dil had on Fergus in The Crying Game.
Despite all the derivative bits & pieces, Hit & Miss is a rich drama that deserves to be seen on its own terms. One is hopeful that it returns for another series, especially with the cliffhanger of Mia about to be blown away by her kingpin boss.