The idea of comically placing pristine middle-class women in a grubby criminal milieu is one that clearly strikes chords on both sides of the Atlantic. In America, we've got Weeds, with its MILF weed dealing heroine Nancy Botwin; in England, it's the ladies of Little Stempington, home to the aptly titled Suburban Shootout.
An engagingly nasty Britcom that initially aired in the states (in, one suspects, significantly bowdlerized form) on the Oxygen network, Shootout has reportedly recently been purchased for Americanization by HBO. Having viewed all eight episodes of the original series' first season, courtesy of Acorn Media's spiffy one-disc DVD collection, I have to wonder if the American version will be able to successfully replicate its source's satiric outrageousness. To these Yankee ears, at least, there's something extra funny about hearing full-blown obscenity being spewed forth with an English accent. In the series' opener, for instance, there's a great scene where a geezerly grocer store attendant (Trevor Stuart) roundly cusses out a little lady for trying to snag a handicapped parking space. I'm just not sure it'll work as well coming out of an American mouth.
The British Shootout centers on Joyce Hazledine (Amelia Bullmore), a mousy bourgeois housewife whose hubby Jeremy (Ralph Ineson) has taken a job as a copper in the seemingly crime-free community of Little Stempington. Though the town looks remarkably clean and quiet (there's not a speck of graffiti to be seen on any of the buildings), the reason has nothing to do with good police work. The town, as Joyce soon learns to her dismay, is under the sway of two rival gangs of gun-toting hausfraus.
First group, led by the diva-esque Camilla Diamond (Anna Chancellor), is capable of giving Tony Soprano and his crew a run for the money: one of the first things we see 'em do is blow up the local Wicker Barn for not keeping up on protection payments. ("We'll bury you alive in matching wicker coffins next time you miss a payment!" she shouts to the store's fleeing owners.) Wicked Camilla quickly works to hook Joyce into her duplicitous business by framing her for the explosion; with this, she hopes to keep a finger on Joyce's policeman spouse.
On the other side is a trio of women led by Barbara DuPrez (Felicity Montagu), a more matronly but no less ruthless vigilante on the side of British bourgeois righteousness. Leader of the Little Stempington Wildlife Protection League (primarily devoted, one eventually learns, to keeping the lower classes out of her beloved little burb), Barbara strives to keep the town tag-free and combat Camilla's illicit schemes, the most recent of which involves dealing industrial strength estrogen patches to the community's pub crawlers. She guilt-trips Joyce into acting as a double agent, while ol' Jeremy doesn’t have a clue about the dire deeds taking place all around him.