With his full beard and belly, Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder
) is virtually unrecognizable as pest exterminator Tommy Saxondale. Then again, the former roadie can be a bit of a pest himself. His glory days behind him, the 50-year-old's life revolves around his job, his Mustang, and the anger management sessions that open each show. To kick-start the series, Saxondale hires Raymond (Rasmus Hardiker, an excellent foil), a rock-loving lad who reminds him of a younger version of himself, and persuades his new partner to move in with him and his old lady, Magz (Little Britain
's Ruth Jones), who manages t-shirt emporium Smash the System. During his first season, Tommy reconnects with a decrepit crony from the roadie circuit, meets his daughter's slick new boyfriend, and comes perilously close to betraying Magz. As she tells Raymond about her blustery man, "He's actually got a really sensitive side. He was a mess the day Diana died." Clearly, these two Rush fans belong together. In the following season, the show welcomes yuppy neighbor Jonathon (Darren Boyd) and gay squatter Keanu Reeves (Coogan), who made his debut the year before.
Throughout both seasons, Tommy battles therapist Alistair (James Bachman) and office manager Vicky (Morwenna Banks), who may be his intellectual inferior, but bests him in the insult department. For fanciers of muscle cars and classic rock--the music and motoring references run rampant--Saxondale will go down like a shot of whiskey. If Tommy isn't as iconic as Coogan's chat-show host Alan Partridge, he's still a swell dude with which to pass the time. Coogan and co-writer Neil McLennan offer an interview and commentary on the episode "Suicide," in which Tommy saves the life of a food artist. --Kathleen C. Fennessy