‘Mr Inbetween’ is shooting for a renewal

Please credit Mark Rogers Photographer

Brooke Satchwell and Scott Ryan in ‘Mr Inbetween.’ (Photo: Mark Rogers).

The chances of a second season of Mr Inbetween, the hitman comedy-action-drama created by and starring Scott Ryan, look better than good following the show’s US premiere on the FX network last Tuesday.

The network, which has 90 million subscribers, uses three key criteria for deciding whether or not to renew a show: Critical acclaim/awards; audiences’ responses including social media; and executives’ belief in the series.

If Mr Inbetween ticks two of those three boxes, FX will almost certainly co-commission with Foxtel another series from Jungle Entertainment and Blue-Tongue Films.

Directed by Nash Edgerton and co-starring Brooke Satchwell, Edgerton’s daughter Chika Yasumura, Damon Herriman, Justin Rosniak and Matt Nable, it premieres on Fox Showcase on October 1 at 8.30 pm.

“We like the show, there is nothing like it on US television. It has action, comedy and drama and it’s Australian, and we feel great about the creatives,” Eric Schrier, president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, tells IF. “It has great execution and great storytelling.”

Schrier, who was in Sydney for the rebranding of showcase as Fox Showcase, the home of FX Originals, Foxtel Originals and HBO, is open to getting involved in more Australian shows, potentially including co-productions with Foxtel.

“We think there is untapped talent in Australia, which we are keen to explore,” he says, adding that he is discussing further collaboration with Edgerton.

Inspired by Ryan’s 2005 feature The Magician, it was the first local commission by FX’s Australian channel, which was axed by Foxtel in February. Fox Networks Group Asia alerted the top brass at FX in the US, which struck a first-look deal with the producers for US rights.

Ryan, who plays Ray Shoesmith, a hitman with a young daughter and ex-wife, tells IF: “We feel pretty confident. We are heading in the right direction. FX were great. We got to make the show we wanted to make, there was no interference, we just got support.”

Schrier expects to make a decision within weeks. Ryan hopes the second series will be longer than six episodes and intends to write the lot, which would take a couple of months. So pre-production would start early in the new year.

Eric Schrier

FX is screening two episodes back-to-back on Tuesday nights following its hit crime drama Mayans M.C. Executives don’t put much store on the overnight ratings, preferring to wait until they see the 3-day figures as catch-up viewing can boost the total by 60 per cent to 100 per cent. So by this Sunday they will have a better sense of how viewers are responding.

The critical acclaim box is well and truly ticked since the world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival drew glowing reviews. The love continued this week as The New York Times’ Mike Hale hailed “another dark comedy about the divided soul of the 21st century male, caught between rage and cuddly vulnerability — in dramatic terms, between Scorsese and Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Hale told readers: “While the recent surge of distinctive Australian series has taken place on streaming services — Acorn TV (Jack Irish, Mystery Road, Sando), Netflix (Secret City,The Letdown), Hulu (Safe Harbour), Sundance Now (Dead Lucky) — Mr. Inbetween brings it to your cable grid. No more excuses.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman described the show as a “stunning revelation,” observing that Ryan and Edgerton deliver a tour de force that gets a lot done in very little time and Ryan is magnetic in every scene.

FX has 15-17 original series on its slate, most produced by FX Productions, which also makes shows for other platforms. The network is among 21st Century Fox’s assets which the Walt Disney Co. is acquiring. Schrier is uncertain what will happen after the takeover, saying simply: “For us it is business as usual.”