Jack Irish: Review

Jack Irish

Friday 14th December, 9pm, FX.

Move over Denmark, the Aussies are coming.

Well, one of them is. And his name is Irish. Jack Irish.

For the last few years the more discerning TV junkie’s Skybox has been full of Scandinavian thrillers such as ‘The Killing’ and ‘The Bridge’, along with Italian coppers such as‘Detective Montalbano’ and the British made ‘Zen’. These obviously go alongside the staggering amount of home grown and American shows that we snort up with gay abandon.

The British crave murder and sleuthery in all its forms; from old lady amateur to grizzled old policeman. We scour the world like a rabid coke head pawing through the threads of a deep shag carpet desperate for some crumbs of white magic to satiate our cravings.

Up until now the Telescape has been free of Australian crime fiction, which is strange as the Brits love Antipodean soaps, comedy and kids television. This is all set to change with the release of ‘Jack Irish: Bad Debt’s, the first of two TV movies based on the successful novels of Peter Temple.

Jack, ex lawyer and gambler, is busy trying to get over the shocking death of his ‘too good to be true’ wife via the usual methods of drinking too much booze and a spot of carpentry. Then, out of the blue he receives a message from an ex client begging to meet him.

When the client is found murderised, Jack, inspired by a mixture of curiosity, justice and guilt sets out on a quest to find out if it really happened. Following the trail he is lead into a murky world of paedos , charity leaders and the upper echelons of government (sound familiar?) as well as the arms of sassy journalist Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp).

It’s all pretty standard stuff and on paper and it doesn’t add up to the most original of formats. Even the name, Jack Irish, sounds like it was picked by a committee tasked with finding the most cliché name for a TV/Movie gumshoe possible.

However, ‘Bad Debts’ is bloody good. Yes, Jack Irish is a stereotype: he’s super bright, he has a troubled past and yes, he dabbles with the sleazier side of life whilst somehow retaining a strong moral compass. Yet Guy Pearce, with the class and restraint that has made him such a reliable and watchable character actor, makes these unlikely qualities believable, likeable and extremely watchable.

He is very much aided in this by an excellent script that manages to crackle and spark with some scintillating back and forths between the accomplished cast, whilst remaining realistic and true to life.

‘Bad Debts’ is also very nicely structured; every new location, character and revelation gently leading you toward the denouement in an unhurried yet attention stealing manner.

I was hoping I could be rude about something this week after the TV love fest I was responsible for last week, but there is no denying that ‘Bad Debts’ is a very welcome addition to the TV Detective canon.

With a few more quid to spend on production values I could very much see this mature and intelligent show pulling in the punters on the silver screen as well.