Stumbling across shows from a few years back, that I’ve never heard of, is a part of my TV viewing life. Often I find I’m not so sad to have missed them, but I have to say one recent find has wowed me with its awesomeness.
Called Sneaky Pete it is about con-artists and that’s something I particularly love. I also love watching Giovanni Ribisi on screen, so having him in the lead role contributes to my love of this show. Having said that, the cast in this is incredible and the writing is so good it hurts, which would make me love the show regardless.
As always I’m talking about Season 1, and it is the kind of season that makes you hope the following ones will be just as awesome, but leaves you with the uneasy sense that that’s a lot to ask.
This thing is tightly plotted, with a good set of cons running throughout, has a range of interesting characters who almost all go through some kind of personal journey and, despite it’s main narrative being about family, it avoids falling into soap opera. I also liked that the violence was mostly off screen, because it isn’t really a show about violent crime.
Though, there are a couple of moments where the characters get walloped by the consequences of their life-style and their actions in violent ways. Which is the other thing I liked about Sneaky Pete; it finds a good balance between wanting us to admire/empathise with the con-artists, but it doesn’t try to get us to think they’re acceptably criminal. There’s no Robin Hood in this. No “only greedy people get conned” messages.
So what is it about? A parolee, who steals his former cell-mate’s identity in an attempt to raise a large amount of cash, needed to pay back a vicious former-cop turned illegal-poker-room operator who will chop bits off his brother if the money doesn’t turn up in a week. Unfortunately for “Pete”, the cell-mate’s family has a whole bunch of crazy going on, that creates an entertaining series of complications.
I have actually watched Season 2 as well. It’s not bad (a few plot holes and the ramped up violence are offset by some very cool character additions), but it doesn’t quite match what that first season achieves. Will I watch Season 3? Probably, because I’m curious to see where they went, but knowing that it was cancelled after that, means the final season won’t have what I’d love to see; “Pete” having to come clean to “his” family.
Sometimes I wish they’d just film that one extra episode/scene after shows like this are cancelled, so you get that pay-off! Then again, I suppose that’s what fan-fiction is for…