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Paul Casserly: Harry is grimy, gritty and great

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TV blogger Paul Casserly reviews TV3's new crime drama Harry, starring Oscar Kightley and Sam Neill.

Oscar Kightley in Harry. Photo / Supplied
Oscar Kightley in Harry. Photo / Supplied

Harry is a great, gritty, grimy crime show.

I jotted down some random thoughts as I watched the first episode last night.

Nice title sequence.

Auckland, for once looks like Auckland, the grime of the outer suburbs doesn't usually get a look in, even on the much loved Outrageous Fortune, West Auckland always had the sheen of soap, it was more fauxgan than bogan. Actually, and this is strange, this made me think of Close To Home - the titles of which captured what I always thought was an authentic Wellington. Recent visits have confirmed this to be true, although the interiors are darker.

It also reminded me a bit of the Market, the other gritty South Auckland based show that ran on TV2, from a few years back, which I'm sure featured some of the same actors.

It's your basic set-up: A cop, called Harry, (Oscar Kightley) comes back to work after his wife tops herself and is thrown into a murder investigation on his first day back. Then off to the pub to have jug with Sam Neill, who plays his colleague.

The P-fulled bank heist that began the series is a cliché to some extent but like most clichés it works a treat, and as the show mentioned via text at the start, this is all 'based on real events'. It's a familiar scene from the crime pages of any local newspaper in the last 20 years. I feel a chill as they enter an RSA.

It's new to see Samoan language in primetime, adds an exoticness for a palagi viewer like me, and gives the show a bit of Borgen like mystery, but I wish they subtitled some of these exchanges, seems strange they didn't. Is that ethno-centric of me?

Oscar Kightley is really good. He's not a proper actor, so some lines fall a little flatter than Sam Neil's rock solid delivery, but Kightly is believable, he seems real, and for a show like this that's the be all and end all. You buy him. Bought.

As I suspected, all women are either hoes or somewhat saintly but there's nothing new in that. The voice here is male. It reminds me a bit of the Sweeney, and I'm thinking that even though this is 2013 the 70's cop show is still in the DNA as are more recent Australian crime shows of the Underbelly variety.

Duncan Garner is on the radio as Harry drives his car. Sometimes cross-promotion takes you out of the moment.

The boss-cop is, to use a word of a certain list MP, a complete f**ktard. As clichés go this one will never go away, the senior cop as a ball-breaking, results driven bastard of the highest order. A character with no light or shade whatsoever. For once I'd love to see a wimpy hands-off kind of mouse in that role. Saying things like: "Have you got the killer yet? Never mind, would you like a cup of tea and a crumpet?"

Still, this is something to be found in the highest examples of the art; The Wire, or Prime Suspect, even in The Killing. Harry isn't quite in that league, but it's not a million miles away. Where's the series link?

Most memorable line, when Harry tries to placate his upset daughter.

"We'll do something for fun. Rainbows End?"

Harry, Thursdays 9.30pm TV3

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