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Be Sure to Squeeze 'Mr Inbetween' Into Your Schedule
September 25, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
FX’s surprisingly affecting new comedy Mr Inbetween picks up on a small, but striking point that has also surfaced in shows like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

Call it the sacrifices you make to pursue a career in crime.   

Mr Inbetween, which premieres Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. ET, stars Scott Ryan (below), who also created the show, as Ray Shoesmith, a muscleman for hire.

When someone has trouble collecting a debt, for instance, he or she might hire Ray to encourage the debtor to pay up by explaining the consequences of forfeiture.

Much of the time, to be more precise, Ray does the explaining while his comrade Freddy (Damon Herriman) provides a graphics, hands-on illustration of the aforementioned consequences.

Hey, it’s a living – and FX has a tradition of protagonists who don’t always behave well. Sunny. You’re the Worst.

Ray’s professional life, in any case, isn’t the most interesting part of Mr Inbetween. When he’s not closing shady deals, you can often find him at home, watching television with his dog. Great dog, but still, he wants a little more in his life.

At one time, it is suggested, he did have that life. He was married, and they had a daughter (below). Now he’s got visitation with the daughter, and while it seems to be a happy relationship, it’s not all that either of them really wants.

His bigger problem surfaces at the dog park. A French bulldog, much smaller than Ray’s dog, runs over barking. His owner Ally (Brooke Satchwell) follows, full of apologies.

Some people who are rude to members of Ray’s family regret it. Like the two punks who knock his daughter’s ice cream cone out of her hand and laugh about it. They become very sorry.

Ally is a different story. Ray thinks she’s nice, and funny, and friendly. When she and the dog leave, Ray figuratively kicks himself for not asking for her phone number.

And there’s the problem. Two problems, really.

First, the comedy part, which is that Ray has no problem walking up to a stranger and letting that stranger know he will be seriously injured if he doesn’t find $10,000 in the next five minutes. Yet he can’t politely ask a woman for her phone number.

Second, the criminal part. Ray hesitates, presumably, because on some level he knows that getting involved with a criminal portends a good chance of a bad ending. If you like someone, paradoxically, you don’t wish that for her.

At the risk of a spoiler, Ray does run into Ally again, learning that she’s an EMS worker. This time the chat goes a little better for Ray, though he still has some of the residual awkwardness of an eighth grader when it comes to talking to girls.

That scene is rather charming because it’s amusing and because in some ways it’s uncomfortably relatable. But we still know, even if Ray has pushed it aside, that Ally could end up as collateral damage.  

That gives Ray common ground with, say, Jonathan Banks’s Mike Ehrmantraut on Better Call Saul. Mike loves his daughter and granddaughter fiercely, but he can’t really share his life with them because for their sake he needs to maintain the firewall.

Like Mike, Ray also isn’t a crime boss who lives in a mansion, owns a posse, drives a Ferrari and wears silk shirts open to the waist. He’s a crime soldier. He’s on the blue-collar end of illegal money. He’s got bills to pay.

So he watches a lot of TV with his dog. In some metaphoric way, it’s part of the sentence he gave himself, and Mr Inbetween pokes around into the intriguing effect it has on his life.

Because the show runs for only six weeks, late at night, it would be easy to miss. It’s worth not missing.

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Thanks for pointing this one out. I missed the first 2 episodes, but I was able to watch them On Demand. Then there were episode. 3 and 4 on the same night, and I believe 5 and 6 are going to be on a night together as well. Anyway, I'm hooked.
Oct 4, 2018   |  Reply
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