Good Behavior: Michelle Dockery’s New Series Makes Bad Behavior Good Fun!

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TNT’s new crime series, Good Behavior (Tuesdays, 9/8C), is based on Blake Crouch’s (Wayward Pines) Letty Dobesh stories – the misadventures of an ex-con addict who winds up working with an international assassin.

Good Behavior, which stars Michelle Dockery as the slightly renamed Letty Raines, opens with Letty getting fired from her waitress job in a seedy diner because she kicked the crap out of a customer who tried to sexually assault her.

While working a hotel burglary marathon (with the aid of a master key card and alerts from a bell hop), she overhears someone hire a hitman to kill his wife and sets out to save the woman. Things go badly and she finds herself forced to work with the hitman – Javier (Juan Diego Botto).

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At the same time, she has to try to keep her parole officer, Christian (Terry Kinney), from sending her back to prison (and after she got out of prison early for good behavior!).

Adapted for television by Chad Hodge (Wayward Pines), Good Behavior is a bizarre romance and edgy neo-noir series that frequently finds Letty  falling into bad habits – she can MacGyver a bong from common household items (one of which is a light bulb), for example – and she uses it!

The Letty/Javier relationship could get a bit sticky – especially after his proclamation that ‘I own you’ – but Letty is, despite her multitude of flaws, a whip smart woman who does not take kindly to being ‘owned,’ and spends as much time trying to thwart Javier as helping him.

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The series premiere is two episodes – So You’re Not An English Teacher/Only The Best For Mrs. Diaz – that sets up what could easily turn into an ‘assassination of the week’ format before the third ep, From Terrible Me, undercuts expectations by spending the hour with the two dealing with repercussions from Javier’s last job.  While escaping in a Tesla and looking for cell phone coverage.

The first three eps suggest that Good Behavior is a crime drama that won’t hesitate to undercut expectations as easily as it gives rise to them. It’s smart, dark, twisted and just a bit witty. There are neo-noir conventions (weird angles; a certain amount of kink; a certain disregard for morality) – even to the point of becoming Lynchean (more Blue Velvet than Mulholland Drive) at certain points.

Good Behavior is one of TNT’s stronger dramas at the three-episode mark. The question is whether it will continue to make being bad look so good – a matter of building then subverting expectations.

I think it’ll be worth finding out.

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