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Epix series ‘Get Shorty’ puts criminals in the movie business

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Romano (left) and O’Dowd examine a blood-soaked screenplay.

Two and a half stars

Get Shorty Sundays, 10 p.m., Epix. Premieres August 13.

Creator Davey Holmes has compared his TV-series version of Get Shorty to FX’s Fargo: both shows take the titles and broad outlines of popular, acclaimed ’90s movies and apply them to mostly unrelated crime dramas, adapted for the modern age of serious, serialized TV. But while Fargo retains some tonal kinship with the Coen brothers movie that inspired it, Get Shorty has almost nothing in common with its source material, either Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1995 movie or the 1990 Elmore Leonard novel on which it was based.

The basic idea of a low-level criminal who wants to get into the movie business is all that remains; here, it’s Chris O’Dowd as Pahrump-based enforcer Miles Daly, hoping to go legit to win back his wife and daughter. He teams up with Hollywood B-movie producer Rick Moreweather (Ray Romano) to make a period drama as a front for laundering money for Miles’ boss. The showbiz material is pretty thin, and much of the series takes place in dusty desert locations (shot in New Mexico), focusing on tired crime-drama devices. There’s none of the playful humor of Sonnenfeld’s film (there’s barely any humor at all), or the sly cleverness of Leonard’s crime novels (captured much more effectively in the Leonard-based Justified). Nor is there a diminutive movie star for the characters to pursue, rendering even the title irrelevant.

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