Suburban ShootoutNow being remade as an American television series by writer/producer Michelle Ashford, this original British series is being released on DVD by Acorn Media. Featuring all eight episodes of the first series (and, by most accounts the only series, as the second series only had three episodes), this disc is 170 minutes of British humor and suburban housewife battles set in the sleepy upscale village of Little Stempington. When mild-mannered Joyce Hazledine (Amelia Bullmore) and her husband Jeremy (Ralph Ineson) relocate to the quiet suburban neighborhood of Little Stempington, Joyce suddenly finds herself thrust into a world where guns are brandished more often than eye pencils and local wicker basket stores are blown to pieces at the slightest provocation. Suburban Shootout offers a fantastical take on mob rule, gang fights and botox parties.

Revered as “Desperate Housewives meets The Sopranos” (New York Daily News), Suburban Shootout also manages to toss in a bit of dry British wit (along with the standard perversion that British audiences have come to expect from their television shows). As Joyce fights to remain neutral between the warring gangs, all the while working to maintain her happy home life with her policeman husband Jeremy and her teenage son Bill, female hormone drug deals are worked, face masks are administered and much drama unfolds. It’s filmed like a typical soap opera, with relatively static shots, mixed in with a few slow pans, and a rather brightly lit set. Imagine the city in Hot Fuzz and you’re relatively close to what goes on here: the deceptively unviolent record of Little Stempington masks a dark underbelly of mob violence and girl on girl action (no, not that kind).

Most of the action is a bit cartoonish – it’s hard to imagine a housewife firing an uzi while weeding her suburban garden and no one taking notice, but the plotlines are agreeable for the most part. What these episodes lack in substance they make up for in originality and blatantly over-the-top gun fights, though often the humor is so dark and dry that it can fail to register. Some of the fight scenes can get a bit too bloody too quickly – and there’s usually a broken nose by the end of each episode – but without these details the show might have been a little too realistic to sell the rest of the jokes. Whether the ladies are planning a drug deal revolving around hardcore estrogen patches or threatening to kill Joyce’s husband unless she comes through with 40K pounds, there’s always some kind of drama happening.

This cast of characters is constantly smirking, posing, and working to one up each other in battle, dinner parties, and village meetings. And while the entire cast is strong, the bubbly Lucy Robinson, in a supporting role, manages to stand out as the constantly chipper Pam Draper. It’s not as darkly involving as The Sopranos or as Britishly hilarious as The Office, but it manages to walk a middle ground that allows for an enjoyable time without leaving too much of a lasting impression.

Zach’s Rating: C+
Perfect For: Television watchers looking for a soap opera with equal parts action and humor
Stay Away if: Realism is your forte

To purchase Suburban Shootout, visit Amazon

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