Dept. of Escapist Fantasies


HBO’s new series Run has got amazing pedigree behind it. The series. created by Vicky Jones, who directed the stage production of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag (Waller-Bridge also serves as executive producer here), tells the story of Ruby Richardson and Billy Johnson, played by Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson respectively, who pull the proverbial trigger on a pact they had made 17 years earlier.

Both Wever and Gleeson are perfectly cast. The former being the frustrated-with-life housewife, the latter, a life guru who is feeling a little hemmed in. Run starts off with a bang, and slowly, over the course of the series, more and more about the two characters are introduced, both through flashbacks and dialogue.

Wever and Gleeson have got fantastic chemistry together; the pent-up sexual frustration between Ruby and Billy just lights up the screen and gives way to some great comedic moments between them. The majority of the episodes are set on an Amtrak train and that claustrophobic environment really heightens a lot of the drama between the characters. Director Kate Dennis (who directed several episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale) does a great job with the tight confines of the train, while showcasing Ruby and Billy’s furtive glances and rising sexual tension.

The introduction of Archie Panjabi as Fiona, Billy’s business partner eventually mucks things up a little for me. It felt like unnecessary tension that wasn’t really required for this story.

I’m not sure if I liked Run. Both Wever and Gleeson are immensely watchable, and the story isn’t boring. But in the current age of peak TV, however, I don’t know if this will find an audience. Run is the kind of show that would do well as a binge watch. And in this case, seven days between episodes may not be a good thing. I was given the first five of seven episodes and I went through them in one sitting, but to having to wait a week (or six in my case) may not be worth it when you have the absolute treasure trove of content that is Netflix. 

Run is a drama, it is sometimes comedic, sometimes romantic. At it’s core, it is about two people who’ve hit middle age and decide to, literally, run away from their problems. That in itself isn’t the problem, and I wasn’t bored watching it, but it wasn’t compelling. It just didn’t feel like appointment TV to me.

In fact, Run needed to be one thing less. I wish it had been just about the two of them, running away from their problems, and reliving their care-free youth. That could work. A rom-com about two people in their late 30s, ignoring their lives, ignoring phone calls from bosses and husbands, and the consequences of those actions. A character piece where two people, who were in love, sit and talk to see if they still feel the same way, 17 years later. This feels like too much. And by being that, ends up not quite enough. 

But Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson are great together though. Put them together more. Maybe in a romantic comedy about two 30 somethings who were in love 17 years ago, who get on a train to relive their care-free youth, running away from bosses and partners. Just to see what happens at the end of the line.

Run debuts same time as the U.S. on Monday, 13 April at 10.30am exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 HD).

HBO, Season 1, 7 Episodes
Executive Producers: Vicky Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jenny Robbins, Kate Dennis, Emily Leo, and Oliver Roskill
Directors: Kate Dennis and Natalie Bailey
Writers: Vicky Jones, Adam Countee, David Iserson, Georgia Pritchett, and Kristie Swain
Cast: Meritt Wever, Domhnall Gleeson, Archie Panjabi, Rich Sommer, and Tamara Podemski

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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