Thursday, August 25, 2005

Modern Day America

ETP recently declared The Job to be "One of the Greatest Cancelled Shows of All Time." That statement needs to be amended. The Job is one of the greatest shows of all time, period. I sat there asking myself one night, can I think of anything better than The Job? I had trouble coming up with answers. As certain people know, I'm a little sick of sitting around and watching episodes of TV shows on DVD, but The Job is so good that it's risen above that moratorium.

For anyone unfamiliar with The Job, it was a show that ran during the summer for two seasons several years back, only making 19 episodes before getting shitcanned. It starred Denis Leary, and really, that's all that you need to know. If you dislike Leary and his comedy, you won't get along with The Job. You also have no taste and no sense of humor.

Anyway, Leary plays Detective Mike McNeil, who is, quite simply, an asshole. He drinks, he smokes, he's hooked on prescription drugs, he has an anger management problem, and he's cheating on his wife. It's really a perfect role for Denis Leary, a man quite possibly best known for his song, "Asshole."

The thing that makes The Job so great isn't just Leary and the fact that the part is perfectly written and perfectly played, but really, it's everything about the show. Great characters, great writing, great cast... I'm not normally this effusive with praise about, well, anything (aside from the Bimmer), but that's how much ass The Job kicks.

Another thing about The Job is that it's a mix comedy and drama. Primarily comedy, but with a healthy dose of drama. I hesitate to call it a "dramedy," because that term is all but synonymous with "shit" thanks to Sports Night, AKA The Holocaust of Television, and other shows of its ilk. No, in terms of melding comedy and drama, The Job gets it right. Unlike most dramedies, I never found myself having to ask "uhhh, was that supposed to be funny?" while watching The Job. Furthermore, the dramatic aspect of the show never felt forced or out of place in The Job. The show just fucking worked.

Did the show have some flawed moments? Sure. There were a few times where it was like, okay, this is a little too convenient. Somehow at an early point in the episode, the cops would always manage to run into the bad guy they're supposed to catch later on. Apparently, New York City isn't as big as we were led to believe. But I can let that slide, since, well, it's not supposed to be that fucking realistic -- it is a comedy, after all. Then there's the fact that no matter how much he fucks up, things always end up working out for McNeil and he's forgiven by whoever's pissed at him for fucking up their life. But hey, this is Denis Leary's fantasy -- the total fuck-up who's still the star of it all -- so that's fine, too. And, okay, there was one point throughout the 19 episodes (where Frank is dealing with the son he never knew he had) where a dramatic line didn't quite flow, but fuck it. That's the one time it wasn't totally in sync, and no one is perfect. Anyway, these minor quibbles are pretty much all I have to say that's not positive about the show, and in traditional fashion, I can easily rationalize them away. And compared to everything else, they are pretty bloody minor.

For the most part, each episode is like a self-contained universe, with what happens in one not really affecting subsequent episodes. There were quite a few where it ended with some shit going down that should have ended everyone's careers, but all was well in the next episode. I actually viewed that phenomenon as kicking it Curb Your Enthusiasm school, where something is fucked at the end but they just flaunt convention and give you no resolution. I love when TV shows go against the de facto rules and do it properly. Like with Frasier, the show that always went with the obvious joke, but somehow, they always made it funny. The "no continuity on The Job" pattern breaks down with the last few episodes, though, and I don't know if that's because they already knew that the show was getting canned (I mean, officially), or if introducing continuity was what ultimately doomed the show.

Not like it matters. The Job was destined for cancellation since, quite frankly, it was good. It was different. Very rarely does a decent show actually last, especially one like this which doesn't fit the bullshit PC mold that everything is expected to fall in line with. I really, really wish that The Job had continued, but alas, Denis Leary's cop show was not meant to last. I haven't seen Leary's firefighter show, Rescue Me (currently running on FX), but I'm planning on just getting the DVDs anyway because I know that it has to be a quality show. A good deal of the creative force behind The Job works on Rescue Me, and I'll trust 'em,even if I know that nothing will ever be The Job. Besides, ETP says it's a good show, and that kid knows what he's talking about. Mostly.

Seriously, if you never saw The Job, check it out. Whether you saw it or not, I, of course, would simply endorse getting the DVD set, and no, I get no kickback for that link. At most you're gonna pay like forty bucks for the set, and with 19 episodes, that's about $2 an episode, which is practically free. Just fucking do it. At very least, get someone else to buy it or go out and rent it if you can. The Job is fucking great, and for one of the few times in my life, I make that statement with no bullshit, no sarcasm, and no qualification.

No comments: