Old School

The charisma between two crusty blokes spills off the screen in ABC's rather wonderful new crime series.

2014-05-17_2355.jpg“You’re on parole. You’re broke. You won’t find shit on your own,” Ted McCabe (Sam Neill) tells Lennie Cahill (Bryan Brown).

“I don’t need your help,” sneers Lennie.

“Listen. You just served 12 years on your own and you don’t have a cent. Your only chance to get your money is right here,” Ted suggests.

In Old School, ABC’s latest crime drama, this very odd couple of a retired cop and former crim need each other more than they care to admit. Luckily for us, they are forced to work together because we’re rewarded with a deliciously entertaining tale.

It was 2001 when an armed hold-up didn’t go entirely to plan. Crook Lennie was left behind by his gang, missing out on $300,000 and his freedom. Ted was shot by one of the gang, which eventually led to him being pensioned off by the force.

Now as Lennie is released and wanting his fair share of the loot, Ted trails him with the purpose of getting some justice. Their common goal sees them reluctantly thrown together.

“You on the take?” asks Lennie.

“You want a smack?” Ted snarls.

If you think it all sounds like the kind of knockabout crime perfected by such British shows as New Tricks and Minder, you’d be right. But this production does it so well, with its lively script, energetic direction and larrikin performances by its two leads.

Sam Neill and Bryan Brown make a cracking duo as two crusty characters, not unlike two positive ends of a battery igniting the sparks. There’s a truckload of subtext between them that is sorely absent from Australian drama.

Both their characters are too old for this caper, but their street smarts and entrenched obstinance will prove to be both strength and weakness.

The goods don’t end there, thanks to a strong supporting cast including Sarah Pierse as Ted’s wife Margaret, Kate Box and Aaron Jeffery as local detectives, Mark Coles-Smith as the son of Lennie’s former cellmate and Steve Rodgers as a local publican.

Special mention goes to Hannah Mangan Lawrence as Lennie’s granddaughter, inadvertently drawn into his world of scams and shady characters, but balancing the comedy with some drama.

Also appearing in the series will be Damian Walshe-Howling, Sacha Horler, Peter Phelps and Harry Greenwood -look out for a cameo by Max Cullen.

Director Gregor Jordan (Two Hands, Buffalo Soldiers, Stitched) returns to television for Old School, also serving as Writer and Co-Executive Producer. Paul Oliver is creator and writer while Matchbox Pictures’ Tony Ayres and Helen Panckhurst produce.

Old School is spirited fun, with a wonderful balance of mystery, action and humour, and two shining stars whose charisma spills off the screen.

8:30pm Friday on ABC1.


13 Responses

  1. Watched the 1st epp of this and it really didnt grab my interest like i had hoped it would. I really enjoy both actors work, but somehow this seemed forced.
    It didnt flow, wether it was the editing im not sure.
    Hopefully it gets better as the weeks go one.

  2. Old School really is very good.
    Highly entertaining and cleverly written.
    Not normally a fan of Bryan Brown but he is perfect in this role.
    Definitely well worth watching.

    Loved all the location shots around inner Sydney too.

  3. Yup, enjoyed this. The two younger characters were less convincing and jarred a bit with the overall tone. Perhaps they’ll grow on me.

    It’s pretty obvious that they’re been set to hook up (presumably with Lennie not being happy about it) but I’m hoping that it will be a very minor, if unnecessary, plot distraction.

  4. This is the most impressive thing I’ve seen on the ABC in a very long time. After a string of cheesy soap operas and lame comedies, it’s nice to see some solid well-written genre material that lives up to the hype (I’m still having nightmares about Secrets & Lies being the “TV Event Of The Year”!)

    What’s funny is that, although not a comedy, it made me laugh more than all the recent ABC so-called comedies put together. See what happens when writers put a bit of effort into the dialogue and avoid soap opera and genre cliches? Let’s hope other writers of TV shows pay attention to this series and learn something from it.

  5. Watched this tonight, I loved the OP song and montage of photos from the past, and it just got better from there. Lots of interesting characters, and the plot coming together like Lego bricks. I’m hoping though that the armoured car robbery isn’t the only plot, that there’s an one episode side story that’s there as a character study. If they can do this there’s no reason why there can’t be a second season.

  6. I know Bryan Brown will be playing the same character he always plays but, from the ads and now this review, I’m looking fwd to watching this. Don’t know a whole lot about the regular supporting cast but I’d watch Sacha Horler reading a shopping list.

    I believe that Harry Greenwood is Hugo Weaving’s son. He certainly has his eyes and jaw.

Leave a Reply