Suburban Shootout

Suburban ShootoutSynopsis: Ah, suburbia. The smell of newly mown grass, the colorful blooms in flowerbeds, the clatter of automatic gunfire at least, that’s how it goes in Little Stempington, a posh London ‘burb where the ladies care more about turf wars than topsoil. They stash Glocks in Tupperware, extort protection money from the Wicker Barn, and peddle black-market estrogen patches at the local pub. When mild-mannered Joyce Hazledine (Amelia Bullmore, I’m Alan Partridge) moves to town, she finds herself caught between rival gangs led by Camilla (Anna Chancellor, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Barbara (Felicity Montagu, Bridget Jones’s Diary). Joyce soon learns that in this quaint English village, women don’t kill time they kill each other.

In Suburban Shootout, the laughs hit you faster than rounds from an Uzi, and the satire packs more punch than a Viagra-laced baked Alaska. You wouldn’t want to live in Little Stempington, but you’ll never want to leave!

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Suburban Shootout 6.0

eyelights: the amusing concept.
eyesores: the paltry delivery.

“Every town has its dark side.”

Tagged as the British ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘Suburban Shootout’ is a series that ran for two seasons in 2006 and 2007. It’s about a quiet town that hides beneath its veneer dangerous gangs of housewives. Split into two factions due to differences between its leaders, the housewives spend their time keeping the neighbourhood clean and running their own underground operations.

In comes Joyce Hazeldne, whose husband, Jeremy, has just transferred to Little Stempington from a London Police Precinct so that they can have a bit more peace and quiet. Little did they know that Joyce would immediately get enlisted (blackmailed, really) into doing the bidding of Camilla Diamond, ring leader of the edgiest of the two groups of suburban femme fatales.

Over the course of eight episodes, Joyce will get sucked into a perpetual tug-of-war between the two groups, learn the tricks of the trade (it’s quite a curve for this average housewife!), and survive a few gunfights – all the while trying to prevent her husband and son from discovering the trouble she’s in. It’s a tight mess, and it’s got all the making of a riotous, feminist romp.

Or so I would have liked to think.

Sadly, ”Suburban Shootout’  never really hits its target. Although the cast (which features the remarkable Anna Chancellor as Diamond) is eager to please, most of the actors aren’t really all that convincing. To sell the premise good and proper, the performances would have had to be dead serious and entirely credible. The humour would have had to be more contextual.

Of course, this would require sharp scripts, and ‘Surburban Shootout’ is lacking in that department as well. For every good idea, there is 22 minutes of shoddy development. And little of it ties into a bigger picture; most of the plot elements are used up in the span of an episode, with little or no bearing on future ones. Even the apparent reconciliation between the two clans was forgotten overnight.

This leaves audiences with episodic dribble that has no emotional pull and hardly requires any form of investment – time or otherwise. One can jump right in or drop right out at any point with no sense of loss. The fact that the show was clearly done on the cheap (at least get a director who can shoot action sequences!) and couldn’t convince anyone that it was fo’ reals didn’t help.

Still, it was popular enough for a second series to be produced and for two different US TV pilots to be made. It doesn’t make me want to watch more of it, but a revamp would make me curious; I love the basic premise, and really wish that it had fulfilled even my remotest expectations. As it stand, the closest thing to it would be to watch ‘True Lies’, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith‘ or ‘Hot Fuzz’.

‘Suburban Shoutout’, however, hardly deserves a shout-out.

Date of viewing, February 21-March 11, 2014

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