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