A while ago, in a probably somewhat lowered state of consciousness, i took to watching Dog the Bounty Hunter on late night TV. i became briefly hooked on it.
Each episode starts with metal-type music playing, and Dog swaggers towards the camera surrounded by fire, for some reason. He wears black leather and the memory of being somewhat younger and thinner. He has long blond hair in a mullet and cool black shades. He is followed by his wife Beth. Well, actually he is followed by Beth's stunning rack, which is then followed at a respectful distance by Beth. Beth also swaggers a bit and wears a lot of black. She is also, God knows why, surrounded by fire. Then come the various offsiders - sons and nephews and so on, all kitted out nicely like low rent rock stars and packing heat. And all inexplicably surrounded by fire.
The episode gets under way. There is always an early scene where the team discuss the lowlife perp they are about to chase, and they write the details on a white board in the best board room style. At this point the men wear tight black pants and wife beaters. Then they Get Dressed, putting on their cool jackets and strapping on their weapons, always shown in closeup because then you get to take them extra serious like.
What follows is sort of chaotic and one of the reasons i took to watching was the sense of barely controlled mayhem. i am very used to barely controlled mayhem, after all.
One episode involves a young woman who wants to dob in her scummy criminal boyfriend. Beth and daughter Li'l Lisa work with her. They support her to Do the Right Thing. The young woman tips off Dog and his team, who all pack some more heat and go looking for the scummy criminal boyfriend in a hotel. Queue a peculiarly Keystone Cops scene where Dog and co are going up in the lift, only to discover the SCB has gone down in the other one. A raucous race to the bottom of the building ensues. The SCB escapes and is intercepted by Li'l Lisa (Rock ON, girl!), who attacks him and delays him until the guys get there. The SCB is then bundled into a car where for his pains he gets a lecture from Dog about the error of his ways.
My favourite ep is a surprising anthropological one which is a subtle commentary on the USA's multicultural society. (Or soemthing). Dog and his team are after a Samoan perp. They enter, of all things, a Samoan ghetto. Made me feel right at home and slightly wistful actually, the sunshine, the state houses, the extended families with the fine mats on the floor and the photos of relatives crowding the damp walls.* So there they are, Dog and his team, busting the home of the Samoan perp, and they fling open the door and there's this bunch of slightly stunned Samoans, and Dog comes over all culturally sensitve. Aloha! he proclaims. Aargh! i slap my forehead. What a superb TV moment. However, blithe igonorance and rough compassion win the day and the Samoans give up their perp, who gets the usual lecture from Dog about, you got it, the error of his ways.
As a programme, Dog the Bounty Hunter has the usual bald mix of pruriance and crude moralising. Despite the lecuring, Dog and Co are in it for the money after all. i am unsure why i got into it, except that Dog is a sympathetic character with his misspent youth and his gloriously Westie family. It all feels recognisable here in En Zed. i also recognise the scenarios, having done slightly similar work. You go out there, you have a job to do, you are never sure how it is going to go, there is an element of danger, there are so many variables and you have to keep control of your bit of it or really bad shit can happen. Moreover, with Dog you get a view of an America not usually seen, not the shiny evil fictional criminal world of Law and Order, say, but real people doing their messed up best in crap circumstances. You can almost smell the cheap junk food and sweat and cats and baby sick smells that make up Western urban poverty. Reminds me of home.
Dog's name is actually Dwayne by the way. Outstanding!
* Yes, i know these are American Samoans and in New Zealand/Aotearoa wde have what used to be called Western Samoans, but the feel is the same, for a southern Palagi like me.