What ever happened to Brendan Gleeson’s ‘Mr Mercedes’?

It’s one of several big-budget shows, some good, that got lost in the churn of too-much TV

Brendan Gleeson in Mr Mercecdes

Brendan Gleeson in Mr Mercecdes

 

Terrific news. The second series of Mr Mercedes starts in just over a month. You know, Mr Mercedes. The series based on Stephen King’s 2014 novel. Mr Mercedes, remember? It’s about a cat-and-mouse game between a psychopath and a retired detective. David E Kelly is the showrunner. Brendan Gleeson is in it. Anyone? Mr Mercedes? Anyone? No?

That’s a shame because the whole thing drips with talent. Brendan Gleeson is a big deal, and so is David E Kelly. Stephen King you might also have heard of. On paper, Mr Mercedes should be enormous. If it was made five years ago it would have been enormous. But now that we’re all drowning in more TV than we could ever possibly watch, it has barely left a dent.

But Mr Mercedes isn’t the only theoretically big show to get lost in the churn. Future Man? Sweetbitter? StartUp Here? The real question is: are they worth hunting down?

Future Man (Hulu)
Future Man is about a janitor who travels through time trying to save the world from aliens, kind of like Doctor Who if Doctor Who was so aggressively obscure that someone took up an entire paragraph in a newspaper article trying to convince people that it really existed. And if Doctor Who had episode titles like A Blowjob Before Dying. And if the Doctor’s real name was Mike Doktahoo, because Future Man’s lead character – hand on heart – is called Josh Futturman. On the plus side, Seth Rogan executive produced it, so if you like his stuff, there’s a fighting chance you’ll enjoy this. Syfy plans to broadcast it between Sharknado repeats next month, so maybe someone will find it drunk by accident.

Sweetbitter (Starz)
Brad Pitt produces this adaptation of a novel about a girl who moves to the big city and immediately gets swept up in the sex and drugs world of fine dining. Brad Pitt, for crying out loud. Brad Pitt could dig a hole in the woods and fill it with feathers and more people would know about it than Sweetbitter. It’s available to watch in the UK, but only after jumping through endless hoops; first you need an Amazon Prime account, then you have to purchase an additional Amazon Prime channel at a cost of an extra fiver a month. Not even The Sopranos is worth that sort of faff.

StartUp (Amazon Prime)
The good news is that this cryptocurrency drama series is on Amazon Prime, so it’s freely available to anyone who bought a mop online or whatever. And yet, even though anybody could watch StartUp, nobody actually does. It’s got Martin Freeman in it, and nobody has ever watched it. It has just been renewed for a third series, even though literally nobody in the entire world has ever even heard of it. Worse, I just watched some of StartUp out of morbid curiosity, and discovered that Martin Freeman is barely even in it.

Hap and Leonard (SundanceTV)
James Purefoy plays Hap Collins, an ex-con with a femme fatale ex-wife and an angry gay best friend. That’s roughly the entire premise of Hap and Leonard, which was just cancelled after playing for three seasons to an audience of literally just a broom in a corner, despite receiving a handful of favourable reviews from the Guardian. And just to add my voice to the world’s tiniest din, after watching the first couple of episodes on Amazon Prime, I’m a convert. Hap and Leonard won’t change your life, but it’s silly, escapist fun nonetheless.

Channel Zero (Syfy)
A horror anthology based on spooky things people have seen on the internet, which makes it either seem like American Horror Story for people who don’t like famous actors, or Michael Burke’s 999 for people who only read Reddit. The good news is that Channel Zero looks genuinely terrifying.

Miles is given a buddy to allow for dialogue
Chris O'Dowd in Get Shorty

Get Shorty (Sky Atlantic)
Remember Get Shorty, the film that people mainly liked because John Travolta was in it right after Pulp Fiction came out? Well, now it’s a series starring Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano. It’s all good news here. The first piece of good news is that the entire first series of Get Shorty is available on Now TV until September. The second piece of good news is that the Get Shorty television programme is so much better than it has any right to be; slick and entertaining and far grittier than the film. – Guardian Service

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