The Job: The Complete Series

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2005, 12:00am

Starring: Denis Leary, Bill Nunn, Diane Farr, Lenny Clarke, Keith David

Directors: Peter Tolan, Adam Bernstein, Tucker Gates

The series: The real crime about this humorous US television series, which revolves around a New York police detective department, is that it was hijacked in mid-flow by commissioning channel ABC, which later chose to ditch it.

Screening from 2001 until mid-2002, its fast paced, wittily scripted warts-and-all portrayal of this group spends more time following their personal lives than the cases they work on, and gained both cult and mainstream viewer approval in the US and Europe. Most hooked viewers felt it had the potential to run for years.

At the centre of each of these 19 episodes - whose freshness is kept intact by just over 20 minutes of running time (designed to fit in a half-hour TV slot with ads) is detective Mike McNeil, played by the series co-writer Denis Leary (Rescue Me TV series, The Thomas Crown Affair, A Bug's Life - character voice). With his messy personal life, it's hardly surprising that emotions rub off from McNeil's extra-curricular activities and affect his work. Witness the way, when trying to give up smoking, he hauls a honking taxi driver out onto the street and has to be restrained from administering a beating, for instance.

McNeil, although fraught with domestic worries from his wife and relentless pressure to get more seriously emotionally involved from his girlfriend, has an incorrigible love of practical jokes, as displayed when investigating a mutilation with his detective partner Terrence 'Pip' Phillips (Bill Nunn).

'Are you sure those guys are really cops?'

a podiatrist asks another police officer, at the scene reflecting on McNeil's and Phillips' severed foot tomfoolery.

Sometimes, McNeil's funniest remarks are served up as Freudian slips that he seems unable to control. In one episode, where his girlfriend Toni (played by the smouldering Karyn Parsons) is laying on the requests for relationship commitments a little too strongly for his liking, McNeil declares, to both their surprise, 'But when we got together I thought this was supposed to be a sexual oasis. Now listen to you. I didn't really say that ...' His marching orders are subsequently duly delivered.

Misuse of police funds and official police identity are par for the course in this detective department. In one episode, three of them acquire firemen's outfits, for the sole purpose

of moving the furniture in a flat opposite the precinct, so they can get an unobstructed telescopic view of a topless female yoga practitioner.

Such behaviour typically gets discovered by straight-laced department head Lieutenant Tom Williams (Keith David), who then has the problem of public embarrassment and disciplinary action. McNeil is ordered to attend an anger-management course in one instance, which provides a particularly funny episode.

The one female detective, Jan Fendrich (Diane Farr), has plenty of fraternity-like behaviour to contend with, and there's always a whiff of physical attraction between her and McNeil.

The extras: Five episodes get a commentary from co-writers Leary (left) and Peter Tolan, who also appear in a recent interview on the inspiration behind the series.

There are more interviews with them and other cast members from the set, behind-the-scenes filming footage, a bunch of bloopers and TV promo trailers.

The verdict: Addictive, laugh-out-loud viewing.