Give DirecTV’s Audience Network credit. Scouring the globe for interesting acquisitions, they’ve come up with a doozy: “Hit & Miss,” a British import starring Chloe Sevigny as a transgender assassin for hire who inherits stewardship of four kids, including the son she didn’t know she’d fathered. What has the potential to be absurd — a title pun in search of a series — plays, albeit slowly, as taut and absorbing. Not much happens initially, but the threat of violence is never far away. Even those who don’t get DirecTV might want to hunt down this unorthodox little gem.
Created by Paul Abbott (“Shameless,” “State of Play”) and written by Sean Conway, the series dispenses with its “The Crying Game” reveal in the opening moments, as Sevigny’s Mia strips down for a shower after gunning down a target in cold blood. (The show was produced for Sky, and proves unflinchingly pay-cable in its language, violence and nudity.)
Brooding and withdrawn, Mia is shocked when she discovers a former girlfriend had a kid, 11-year-old Ryan (Jorden Bennie), who is living on a West Yorkshire farm with a trio of half-siblings, led by the 16-year-old Riley (Karla Crome).
Initially hostile toward Mia — although somewhat intrigued by her transgender status — the kids reluctantly allow her to move in. But there are a few hitches: the miserable jerk who owns the place (Vincent Regan) and doesn’t want Mia around; all those unpaid bills at the dilapidated farmhouse they call home, raising questions about money Mia’s saving for another purpose; and the question of whether she’ll sign away the guardianship bequeathed to her.
In the meantime, Mia continues to impassively execute contracts for Eddie (Peter Wight), who values her as an employee, but whose motives remain slightly suspect.
Aside from the title’s coy double meaning, it’s also a pretty fair description of Sevigny’s accent, which sounds at best intermittently European. Nevertheless, her glowering look instills Mia with a genuine sense of menace as someone who shouldn’t be trifled with, although it’s pretty clear not all’s idyllic down on the farm. (Her role in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” with a similar sensibility and theme, also provides an interesting footnote.)
Although representatives of the transgender community will likely have a mixed reaction to some of the beats in these initial episodes, this is a character like few we’ve seen — tough, focused and anything but a victim.
DirecTV will launch “Hit & Miss” adjacent to its exclusive run of “Damages,” and the tone and quality make for a compatible fit. The show won’t be for everyone, certainly, but in terms of hooking a small audience in a way likely to strengthen their bond to the satellite operator, it’s a lot more “hit” than “miss.”