Chloe Sevigny first came on my radar as the delightfully self-obsessed middle wife to Bill Paxton’s polygamist in the HBO series BIG LOVE. In it, Sevigny showed rare depth to attempt manipulating every character she came into contact with while trying to preserve the right to privacy of her ever-growing family. In 2010, she received a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress – a reflection of the kind of performance she delivered on LOVE – so it only stands to reason that she’d continue to find top notch properties to further enhance her craft while displaying an accomplished ability to inhabit any character.
Who would ever have imagined that she’d find her next complex work as the pre-operative transgender hitman with a heart of gold?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come’, then read on …)
Let me dispense with some scuttlebutt right off the bat: much of the advertising materials I’ve been able to review regarding HIT & MISS presently indicate that there was never any plan for the show to continue beyond a single season. In fact, much of it clearly indicates it was a six-part British drama miniseries. I’ve done some digging, and I’ve been able to find some notations that this isn’t necessarily true. Conflicting reports indicate that the program never continued beyond this single season because it was filmed on location in Manchester (England) and Ms. Sevigny didn’t much care for the town’s constantly dreary conditions. Still, I’ve found other citations which indicate producers never contracted Ms. Sevigny beyond a single season and, thus, that’s all they ever intended; however, the lead actress spilled the beans in an interview that the other actors were all contracted for multiple seasons and perhaps they only offered her a single season because they feared they couldn’t acquire her for the show if they asked for more.
Let me just say that, whatever the issue, it’s sad that these six episodes are all audiences will ever get.
The cold and calculating assassin, Mia (played by Sevigny), is a transgender woman saving her earnings to pay for an eventual operation to complete the transformation to full womanhood. However, when she receives a letter from her dying ex-girlfriend Wendy (see infrequently as a ghost in the program), Mia learns she has an 11-year-old son, Ryan (Jorden Bennie). When Mia arrives to meet him, she finds an entire family of resentful children, all in need of a guardian, a role to which she eventually succumbs. But will she be able to finish out her career as a hitman before her criminal past destroys her future?
HIT & MISS explores a wealth of issues in its six episodes. Mia is constantly struggling with controlling both the male and female influences heavily at play in her own damaged psyche, and the four children she ‘inherits’ as well run the gamut of emotions in reconciling their own loss with their newfound sense of family. Thrown into the mix are some additional characters – a male love-interest for Mia, an aging mob chieftain who won’t let Mia go quietly into the night, etc. – that bring the drama some further surprising depth. While loss and grief tend to be the foundation of almost every relationship explored, HIT also rather smartly uses these characters to inject a little sunlight into such a tense but clouded existence.
The series is filled with more nice moments than it possibly deserves. The first five episodes are lean and mean but still manage to introduce so many elements I questioned how it could all possibly come together in a single 45-minute conclusion. For the most part, the sixth episode is a bit of a creative cop-out – as I suspected, there was no way all of this was going to be wrapped up neatly in a bow in what appears to be the show’s finale – but I can’t help but wonder if the showrunners didn’t deliberately paint themselves into a corner hoping that the program’s final scene stand as symbolic for what they were themselves experiencing. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it involves the show’s three central characters – one symbolizing the past, one as the present, and one as the future – staring each other down in ways that epitomize perhaps what HIT & MISS was all about all along.
HIT & MISS is produced by Abbott Vision and Red Production Company. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled through BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited. As for the technical specifications, no expense was spared in giving this program the finest sight and sounds possible; these six episodes are chocked full of some excellent cinematography. As for the special features, there are two – first is an hour-long session of cast & crew interviews that speak to the entirely of the creative process, and second is a produced Q & A session with Ms. Sevigny and the creative personnel. (For what it’s worth, I learned more from the cast & crew feature than I did the Q & A.)
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. For all intents and purposes, it would appear that HIT & MISS will forever consist of only these six episodes; there has been some talk surrounding the possibility of a second season – I’ve been able to uncover that the entire cast, with the exception of Sevigny, were contracted for additional work – but it’s been a long time since that topic has come up again. And that’s sad: these first five episodes were terrific – relentlessly addictive – and while that finale was exceptional I have to be honest and say it felt more surreal than real, like the creative folk were trying to compress more story into 45-minutes than was humanly possible. (Did they secretly know it was going to be their last hurrah?) Still, it’s a poignant cliffhanger that may be best left up for resolution in the minds of those who enjoyed the show most: the audience.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited provided me with a DVD copy of HIT & MISS by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.