The Unusuals: The Complete Series
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The series, which starred Amber Tamblyn as a recently transferred from vice homicide detective paired with a veteran detective [Jeremy Renner] who knew when to ignore the rules, The Unusuals mixed elements of comedy that verged on slapstick [the lengths on member of the homicide squad would go to not get killed on duty] to the serious [removing evidence that could tarnish the memory of less than perfect cop in the eyes of his family].
The show was fast-paced and even its most outrageous bits were [admittedly loosely] based in the experiences of members of the NYPD. The first rate cast included Lost's Harold Perriman and Adam Goldberg, so there was a lot of talent on hand.
While I wish the series could have gone on, Renner probably wouldn't have play the role in The Hurt Locker that won him the Oscar® if it had.
There's a brief, if insightful, making of featurette included, but that's about it.
If you like some of USA Network's shows [Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, White Collar], where character is essential, then you might enjoy The Unusuals.
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- Walsh: "You mean like Jugs or Maxim?"
Same old, same old with the big television networks. Put on a promising show, cancel a promising show. ABC's appallingly short-lived THE UNUSUALS is the latest victim to fall prey to the arsebackward peccadillos of these program directors. Ten episodes are all we get, with plot threads hanging unresolved all over the place. Sad.
THE UNUSUALS takes up where LIFE left off, in terms of offbeat characters embedded in an intriguing police procedural. New York City detectives Casey Shraeger and Jason Walsh are our early eyes and ears to what makes this series tick, and it's Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn) towards whom we naturally gravitate as she's the newbie in the lot, what with her having just two seconds ago been reassigned from Vice to the 2nd Precinct Homicide Division. Shraeger is instantly thrown in the deep end, her new unit tapped to look into the murder of a very flawed police detective who turns out to be the old partner of Jason Walsh (Jeremy Renner), who is now Shraeger's new partner. But it's always perilous poking into a hornet's nest, and, o jaded us, it's not startling at all that Shraeger would inevitably catch a whiff of police corruption. One smug perp actually passes judgment on the 2nd Squad, mocking it as "Chaotic. Disorganized. Too much personality. Not enough discipline." He should've added "dysfunctional."
- Police Dispatcher: "2nd Squad, this is Dispatch reminding you that handcuffs are for official police business only."
Part of what makes this show so addictive is that all the characters seem to be nursing a secret or harboring a quirk. One detective constantly refers to himself in the third person (no one much likes this guy). Another officer is so easily spooked he sleeps with his bullet-proof vest. Amusingly, his partner tends to be so very reckless, and the episodes mine this odd couple dichotomy for tons of giggles. There's the former bad boy who found religion. And the former professional baseball player. Shraeger herself, we learn right away, is a closet Park Avenue princess with a mean trust fund. Shraeger just wants to fit in, doesn't want preferential treatment. She doesn't inform anyone she's posh. Secrets are part and parcel of the make-up of this homicide squad. As Walsh asks Shraeger:" How can you trust someone who doesn't have secrets?" I even got to wondering about the police dispatcher whose no-nonsense yet frequently hilarious on-radio communiques contribute yet one more offbeat color. I can't decide which of her broadcasts I like most.
- Police Dispatcher: "2nd Squad, be advised: Female trapped in a port-a-potty in East River Park. This perfectly summarizes my last relationship."
Amber Tamblyn and Jeremy Renner head up a fabulous cast which also includes the always memorable Adam Goldberg. THE UNUSUALS is seedy and gritty and funny and full of great character moments and that sense of easy camaraderie. There's a smattering of romance. It's certainly dramatically compelling. I don't know if the cases by themselves are interesting or if they're made interesting because it's these oddball detectives investigating them. The murder store ("One Man Band"). The brown bag pornographer whose film sets are residences of unwitting homeowners ("The E.I.D."). "The Dentist" borrows a plot device from REAR WINDOW and a classic gag from CODE OF SILENCE, and it features a daring heist which takes place in the 2nd Precinct station. We see a 1313 go down, and that very hilarious Tape Delay maneuver. We learn of the mustache fraternity and the precinct's long-established bartering system of favors.
- Police Dispatcher: "2nd Squad, this is Dispatch. It's a full moon tonight, people, and you know what that means. Anything can happen. Werewolves, succubi, giant robots fighting in the street. Proceed with caution."
THE UNUSUALS - THE COMPLETE SERIES collects all ten episodes and comes in two DVDs. The single bonus feature on disc is "On Set with the THE UNUSUALS" which I guess serves as the Behind-the-Scenes look into the thing. It runs at 5 minutes, 24 seconds. There's also a leaflet insert with very brief synopsis of the episodes. So it's got that going for it. What we're also left with are dangling plot threads. So what happens to Delahoy? Will Cole ever 'fess up to his partner about what he did? Will Banks ever turn 43? And so forth. I realize that the big three networks have to compete now with cable, and that it's ultimately about the bottom line, which is that THE UNUSUALS simply weren't drawing in the sexy Nielsen ratings. But, geez, what ever happened to those days when a network would nurture a fledgling show, give it room to grow and find its audience? Or, hold up... did those days ever exist, really?
Sony Pictures is just afraid you won't buy this if you don't think it's a duplicate of every other cop show made in the last twenty years. ABC feared the same and mis-marketed the comedy as a hard-boiled grimefest. Unsurprisingly, it tanked in the ratings. But what does exist of it is fortunately available now.
Normally, I don't go for cop shows, but this one stood out to me. It's about the characters -- true to the title, everyone working at the precinct is UNUSUAL in some way. Amber Tamblyn steals the series as Casey Shraeger, a stereotype-defying smartmouthed heiress who wants to pursue her own interests (and attempts to keeps her true identity secret for much of the series). Harold "WHERE'S MAH BOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYY?" Perrineau plays a paranoid detective convinced he's fated to die within one year. (We never get to find out if that's true.) Other cast members range from a former baseball pro to a sergeant who really wanted to be an astronaut but discovered he was afraid of heights. The cases they get handed are also suitably bizarre.
Tamblyn prophetically said in an interview that the series could run into problems for "being so unique." For those who are tired of network factory entertainment and want to see a show unafraid to break the mold, I recommend the ten episodes of The Unusuals. Woe that there aren't any more, but I fear if it had gone on, ABC might have tried to turn it into the depressing thing they were selling it as.
I actually wasn't sure that I was going to love this while I was watching the pilot. All of the characters were a little strange and some outright over the top. However as the story unfolds you begin to invest in each of the characters and embrace their weird quirks. If you like things with subtle humor, then I would recommend this. It has random one liners, great situational humor, and that one guy that everyone likes to see get pranked.
Anyway, this show was so very good. I loved the fast pace and quirky characters. I honestly don't know why this show didn't get a full season of shows or continue on tv. Maybe it wasn't on at a good time, but whatever the reason, it was a shame that more shows weren't filmed.
I recommend buying these dvds because the show is very good as a comedy and a drama. The characters worked well together. I' was hoping Amber who plays Casey and Jeremy who plays Jason would eventually get together,but since there were only 10 shows, there was a lot of storyline that wasn't finished.
We'll never know about the cop who has a brain tumor or about his partner show had most of his male family members die at 42 and he's 42 now.
I wish I knew about this show when it was on tv because I would have at least written a letter to the channel to keep it on. Anyway, Amber is still an amazing actress and Jeremy is doing amazing movies now. All in all I'd say if you like cop stories where the characters are all different, yet loyal to each other, this is a must see show.
I'm sorry there aren't more seasons of at least if the show finished some of it's important storylines, I wouldn't feel sad and cheated.