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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hitmen’ On Peacock, Where Two Middle-Aged Pals Just Happen To Kill People For A Living

There have been plenty of examples of films and series that feature hitmen who just consider killing part of their job, some of them want to get out. But how about the idea of two women, old friends since high school, who fell into the killing business and really wish they were doing something else, but know they have a good gig? That’s the idea behind Hitmen, a British import on Peacock.

HITMEN: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: Pills, keys, money, and finally shoes spill out onto an office building floor.

The Gist: We find out why that’s happening: Jamie (Mel Giedroyc) and Fran (Sue Perkins), two best friends from high school who just happen to be assassins, are holding a man in a suit over an atrium railing, five floors up. He ran over there when they pointed a gun in his face. Fran wants to pull him up “so we can kill you in a civilized manner!” But either way he’s going to end up dead, which is what happens when Jamie loses his grip.

It’s Fran’s birthday, and the two pals, who just happened to fall into the killing business when they were younger, are talking about their plans to celebrate. They happen to be in their van, with another target, a lawyer (Jason Watkins), in the back. He’s tied up with a bag over his head, but they can’t kill him until they get the order from a “Mr. K.” Jamie really wants to give her buddy a great day but it seems like no one she’s invited has responded, probably because the previous year, at a karaoke bar, a black light revealed that they had just come back from a job without changing clothes.

The lawyer is less scared than bored at this point, and he tries to make suggestions. Jamie hires what she thinks is a stripper but it’s a guy in a spider costume. When he realizes what’s going on in the van (it takes him awhile… when the lawyer yells “They’re going to kill me!”, the guy thinks the lawyer is being dramatic), Fran shoots him as he flees.

When they go to the canal to rid themselves of the spider dude’s body, they run into fellow hitmen Liz (Tonya Cornelisse) and Charles (Asim Chaudhry), who are also dumping a body. They’re rivals for great jobs from Mr. K. but Fran also has a thing for Liz. Liz teases Fran about attending her birthday dinner, then they speed away.

With still no word from Mr. K, they park in their warehouse and they talk about the whole idea that life hasn’t gone the way they wanted. The lawyer agrees and — now that he can see them, via a mistaken sack adjustment by Jamie — the three of them bond over life mistakes. Mr. K calls… after pointing the gun at the lawyer’s head, Fran laughs and says he’s been spared. Or has he?

Hitmen
Photo: Sky UK Limited

Our Take: Hitmen, created by Joe Markham and Joe Parham, is a more entertaining idea than show, at least in the first episode. We love the idea of these two middle-aged buddies, who are basically living normal lives, ruthlessly killing people because that’s their job. They’re not particularly enthused about their career, and their indifference is reflected in how poorly they execute their job. Sure, they get the work done, but not in the most efficient way possible. It’s sort of like they’re the title character in HBO’s Barry, but without the PTSD and the ambition to do anything else. This is their job, it provides them with a good living, and it will be that way until they retire.

The first episode wasn’t quite as funny as we wanted it to be, though. Not sure why. It was set up well; they ride the lawyer around and let him get involved in their personal lives, even though they all know what’s about to happen. Maybe because Fran and Jamie felt more sad and pathetic in the episode than just resigned to the fact that this is their lives. We’re sure in other episodes that will be the prevailing emotion, which will make their misadventures funnier.

The chemistry between Giedroyc and Perkins is already there; before you see the pic of them in college that Jamie gives Fran as a birthday present, they give off the vibe of old friends from the first minute they’re on screen together. For now, we don’t know that much about the world around them, so the two of them have to carry the show until that world gets built. But given their chemistry that’s not a worry.

So the pieces are there for a really fun dark comedy. But things just may need time to come together.

Sex and Skin: Nothing.

Parting Shot: It’s literally a parting shot; the lawyer figures out that Fran kept him alive just so she had someone at her birthday dinner, he grabs her gun, and then Jamie shoots him from behind. Gun in one hand and cake in the other, she starts singing “Happy Birthday.” The contrast gave us the biggest laugh of the episode.

Sleeper Star: We’ll be seeing more of Cornelisse and Chaudhry as the rival hitmen, so that’ll be fun. It seems that Charles does want to be friends with Fran and Jamie, but always takes Liz’s more confrontational lead. We’ll also get to see Mr. K eventually; he’s played by Stephen Boxer.

Most Pilot-y Line: The argument with the drive-thru speaker over the fact that the “After Eight McFlurry” is still being made was a little too long. Though we’d like to try one.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Despite the first episode being surprisingly devoid of laughs, enough about Hitmen works to give us hope that the rest of the first season will be better.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, VanityFair.com, Playboy.com, Fast Company.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard and elsewhere.

Stream Hitmen On Peacock

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