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May 25th, 2005 David Walker | DVD & TV
 

Check It Out:

The Job/The Great Rock-'n'-Roll Swindle

     
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Check This Out: The Job

When a television series is canceled after only one season, it usually means one thing: The show sucked. But every now and then a show comes along that isn't total crap but still fails to find a decent-sized audience and gets the axe. Among the best short-lived shows of all time are Frank's Place, The Tick and The Job, which was released as a four-disc DVD set earlier this month.

A brilliantly funny comedy, The Job never fit into the standard sitcom paradigm. In style and execution, the show had more in common with cop dramas like NYPD Blue than it did with other sitcoms. Denis Leary stars as Mike McNeil, a hard-drinking, pill-popping New York City detective who spends as much time trying to juggle his wife and girlfriend as he does solving crimes. McNeil's partner is the bible-thumping "Pip" Phillips (Bill Nunn), who, in the pilot episode-and one of the series' funniest moments-is concerned his ass is getting too fat. The dynamic between McNeil and Pip, as well as the other detectives, is the foundation of the series. In that regard, The Job is a lot like Barney Miller, the classic cop sitcom that favored character dynamics over crime.

The DVD set features all 19 episodes of the original series, plus a decent sampling of bonus materials. It's a shame the show wasn't given more of a chance to develop, but at the same time, if it hadn't been canceled, we never would have gotten Leary's new series, the sublime Rescue Me. In retrospect, The Job serves as almost a test run for Rescue Me, which breaks through all the barriers that the cop comedy was pushing up against.

Check This Out II: The Great Rock-'n'-Roll Swindle

There are a lot of people who love this movie, and for the record, I'm not one of them. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. It's just that when it comes to movies dealing with the Sex Pistols, I'd rather watch Alex Cox's classic Sid & Nancy or Julien Temple's documentary The Filth and the Fury.

Years before Temple's legitimate documentary about the seminal punk band, he directed this 1980 faux-documentary, a bizarre, sometimes incomprehensible reenactment of the Sex Pistols' career. Filmed a couple of years after the band's breakup, The Great Rock-'n'-Roll Swindle is told from the point of view of Malcolm McLaren, the band's manager. If we are to believe everything in this "documentary"-or comprehend it-the Sex Pistols were an elaborate con dreamed up by McLaren to dupe anyone and everyone out of their money.

In all honesty, the plot isn't the reason for watching this finally-released-on-home-video classic. The real reason to watch Swindle is for the performances by the Sex Pistols, especially Sid Vicious' classic rendition of "My Way."

 
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