Hitmen

2 out of 5

Created by: Joe Markham, Joe Parham

covers season 1

This is a plausible setup for a good, half hour dark comedy series that… goes nowhere.  I’m bummed because our creators worked on The Amazing World of Gumball, which is certainly one of the funniest and most inventive series of all time, and there’s definitely a fair amount of Gumball’s unleashed oddity here, but I never cracked a smile; never chortled.  Why not?

I’m honestly not sure.  Which isn’t a very helpful review.  Perhaps the translation of the kind of self-aware, reality-bending humor of Gumball to live, bound by reality action just changes the formula such that it’s off-ness is no longer a joy, but rather just… off.  There are also notes of story that carry over from episode to episode that I think imbalance things, trying to establish some unseen background with our leads but are too vague to be interesting, and instead just distract from our ability to see these characters as – perhaps ironically – more cartoonish characters, which would allow the jokes to be a little more unleashed.

Hitmen stars Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins as Jamie and Fran, hitmen for the unseen but frequently referenced boss, Mr. K.  The duo are friends, chatting to each other about relationship issues and the like while they execute their current target-per-episode, but not before something can go wrong, in an escalating-hijinx format.  The tone is dry, to juxtapose the ridiculousness of the occurrences (and the killing, which doesn’t steer away from being bloody), and conceptually, a lot of the setups are pretty funny, like accidentally torturing a victim with unknown food allergies, or having a runaway victim toppled by an aggressive bee, but the show simply never hits a stride that feels unique.  We’ve seen this kind of dark humored stuff before, and Hitmen isn’t dark or humorous enough to make any impact, and it’s half-step into narrative threads works against it, making it seem like it’s not progressing anywhere, as it’s really structured more as a standalone sequence of gags.

A talented cast and crew and that worthwhile premise means there’s room for improvement, should it make it to a second season…