Third-episode verdict: Mr InBetween (Australia: Showcase)

Terrifying and hilarious by equal turns

Scott Ryan and Damon Herriman in Mr Inbetween
Scott Ryan and Damon Herriman in Mr Inbetween

In Australia: Mondays, 8.30pm AEST, Showcase
In the UK: Not yet acquired

You’ve got to admire Showcase’s guts in launching a new drama not only written by but starring a complete newcomer to TV acting and writing. Yet it’s a brave decision that’s paid off magnificently with Mr InBetween, which sees Scott Ryan playing a nightclub bouncer who also moonlights as an enforcer and hitman for Damon Herriman.

Despite being billed as a black comedy, the first episode was more a drama with a hint of comedy – a character piece without jokes, just amusing yet plausible situations, as we see Ryan’s constantly smiling killer alternate between day job and personal life, throwing people off walls and getting tongue-tied when a girl likes him. Ryan, who was himself odd-jobbing as a pizza delivery man and taxi driver when the show got the green-light, is impressively naturalistic and convincing, the kind of bloke you’d have jokes with down the pub, yet always be a bit wary of because of his constant smile.

Episode two is an even darker affair than the first episode, with Ryan going on a revenge mission against the guys who hurt his mate – or the guys he’s told did it, anyway, and we see what happens when Ryan accidentally kills the wrong the person. Yet buried in the middle of the episode is a downright hilarious conversation between Ryan and his daughter, in which he disabuses her of the notion that there is a Santa Claus (“To be honest, I don’t even know how he and Jesus are related”), before spinning her a long yarn about the time he met a real-life unicorn (“It winked at me.”).

Episode three, meanwhile, explores Ryan’s character as he goes to court-mandated anger management, where he picks a fight with a wife abuser, declaring himself a cut above the low-life’s he’s with – he regards himself as doing a public service. But it’s also a bit more darkly comedic, as he has to deal with a fight between his mate and his Russian brother-in-law, who has decided to rob him.

Mr InBetween

The first three episodes of Mr InBetween have all been consistently excellent. The half-hour runtime means each episode is tightly focused with zero flab, yet still manages to allow for characterisation and character development. The show never makes Ryan’s profession ridiculous, but takes both him and it deadly seriously, even if he does occasionally like a laugh and wind up in some odd – but not too odd – situations thanks to his mates.

Very much worth a watch.

Barrometer rating: 1

The Barrometer for Mr InBetween