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The Amazon Prime dramedy, "Sneaky Pete" has become one of the biggest hits in the history of the streaming network. The show features Bryan Cranston in his return to TV after the success he enjoyed as Walter White in "Breaking Bad," and sees the actor credited with being a creator of the show alongside showrunner David Shore.
"Sneaky Pete," tells the story of a con man, Marius, who has been wallowing in jail after a con gone bad as he tries to find a way to pay off a mobster. The series opens with Marius in jail and looking forward to finally making his way out to freedom and change in his life. Marius calls his brother, Eddie and is told he is still being chased by a mobster, Vince Lonigan who has told Eddie he is owed $100,000.
Marius decides his best course of action is not to return home but to take the identity of his cellmate, Pete, who has not returned to his family's farmhouse for over 20 years. Marius spends the remainder of his time in jail listening to the stories of his cellmate and remembering as many details as he can in an attempt to pass himself off as the imprisoned Pete.
Upon his release, Marius decides to ignore the calls of his brother and head directly to Upstate New York where Pete's grandparents live on their farm. Pete arrives and initially finds it easy to pass himself off as Pete by simply recalling the simple details of the life he was told by his cellmate. Marius understands he is playing a high stakes game and must remain in character at all times, even when he decides he must return to New York for a few hours with the aid of Pete's cousins.
Marius is also attempting to learn the tricks of the bail bonds business Pete's grandparents operate from their farmhouse which only adds to the fear of the con man that he will one day run into a fellow criminal who knows his real identity. Initially, Marius feels he is about to change the way he lives his life as he knows Pete is in prison for the foreseeable future and has stated he does not wish to return to his family. As he learns more about the bail bonds business operates by Otto and Audrey, Marius begins to believe all is not as it seems with Pete's grandparents.
As he begins to feel the warmth and love of living with a family, Marius finds his new world shook by the new local mobster, Vince has taken Eddie hostage as he seeks the $100,000 he feels he is owed. Vince later reveals he is willing to cut off one of the fingers of Eddie for each week he is not paid by Marius. This leaves Marius in a difficult situation as Vince draws closer to the truth about the whereabouts of Marius as he tries to have his debt repaid.
The role of Marius is taken by Giovanni Ribisi who has been involved in many successful TV shows and movies including his recurring roles in "Friends" and "My Name is Earl." Following his success in various sitcoms, Ribisi made the move into feature films and starred in "Avatar" before returning to TV in "Sneaky Pete."
Bryan Cranston has been one of the leading figures in TV over the last decade following his role in "Breaking Bad." In "Sneaky Pete" Cranston makes occasional appearances as the shadowy figure of Vince Lonigan but had a hand in the creation of the series alongside veteran writer and producer, David Shore.
At the outset of production, the role of showrunner was taken by David Shore as he and Cranston shared a writing credit for the first episode. However, the cancellation of a deal with CBS led to the screenwriter leaving the production in limbo until new showrunner, Graham Yost took over. Upon its purchase by Amazon Studios, "Sneaky Pete" underwent some reshoots before being released to the public with many of the changes encouraged by the arrival of Yost. Graham Yost has a long history of TV and film success, including his work on Steven Spielberg-produced TV shows, "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific."
The initial production of "Sneaky Pete" was attached to CBS where writer and initial showrunner had a development contract. However, the loss of this contract left the show in limbo with many cable channels thought to be interested in optioning a series following the completion of the pilot episode. Amazon Studios eventually took control of the show with a partnership signed between itself and Sony Pictures Television.
As the series has progressed, the role of director of various episodes has been taken by a number of well-known names, including Bryan Cranston for an episode of season one. In season two, lead actor Giovanni Ribisi stepped behind the camera to direct an episode. The show is streamed via the Amazon Prime platform around the world following the pilot receiving a positive response during the annual Amazon pilot season.
The critical response to "Sneaky Pete" has been positive with both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic praising the writing of the show in its first season and on into the third. Rotten Tomatoes classes the show with a 97 percent approval rating and Metacritic gives "Sneaky Pete" a rating of 77 percent. Some early critics felt the slow pace of the pilot let the episode down with the arrival of mobster Vince Lonigan seen as a positive for the show.
Despite the show being a mix of crime caper and family drama, "Sneaky Pete" uses the names of many of the family and friends of creator and star, Bryan Cranston. The actor's own mother is called Audrey and his grandfather was called Otto. Of course, Cranston's most famous boos, Vince Gilligan gives the mobster of the show his name. The "Breaking Bad" star was reported to have not written a role for himself in the original script which did not feature the character of Vince Lonigan. However, the reshoots of the pilot episode for Amazon included the decision by Cranston to include himself in the cast as the New York mobster.