Should I Try It: Sexy Beast

This prequel series tells the story of a young Gal and Don coming up in the crime world.

In this photo illustration, the Paramount Plus logo is...
In this photo illustration, the Paramount Plus logo is... / SOPA Images/GettyImages
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We’re racing through January 2024 and getting plenty of new options. But with all the content that’s available in this era of shows, movies, and streaming options, it can be daunting to know what’s worth your time. Don’t worry, this series is here to help. Today, I’m looking at a new series adapted from a previous film.

Series: Sexy Beast

Where to Find It: The first two episodes are available now, subsequent episodes stream each Thursday on Paramount+

What’s It About: This new series shares the DNA—and name—with a 2000 film from Jonathan Glazer. In that film, a retired Gal (Ray Winstone) is living in Spain with his wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). His old associate Don (Ben Kingsley) comes to cajole him into a job for mobster Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). Things don’t go according to plan.

In the new series, we jump back in time. Here, Gal (James McArdle) and Don (Emun Elliott) are up-and-comers on the crime scene. They get recruited by a bigger name, Teddy Bass (Stephen Moyer), to do a job. In the meantime, Gal is engaged to Marjorie (Eliza Bennett) but locks on to an adult film star, Deedee (Sarah Greene), who challenges and excites him.

Don, meanwhile, is getting pushed by Cecilia (Tamsin Greig), who has invested a lot of time in molding Don and wants to see him push Gal to bigger and bigger heights in the crime world.

You Should Try It If: You were a fan of the original film, are a fan of origin stories, or like hard-bitten crime dramas.

One Man’s Opinion of Sexy Beast

The original film here featured some strong performances. Kingsley, in particular, is quite good in the role of Don, earning an Academy Award nomination. By contrast, no one in this new cast pops off the screen quite as well. Moyer is a strong actor, but he doesn’t have the same kind of menace you get from McShane.

Granted, the series is its own thing and should be evaluated on its own. But as a series that shares a name and follows the same characters, it invites comparison. I’m not sure how much I wanted to know about the past for Don, Gal and Teddy. The original film is a tight 88-minutes and tells the story it wants to tell.

The episodes here meander at around an hour, with an eight-episode first season at least. Once you get past the initial hook, the series needs to hold your attention because you’re invested in the characters. While I like the general direction of the Gal-Deedee romance arc, the rest of the initial set up felt a little blah to me.

Next. Should I Try It: Criminal Record. Should I Try It: Criminal Record. dark