Pacific Heat is the latest show from Working Dog Productions (Utopia, Have You Been Paying Attention?, The Hollowmen… look, if you’ve watched an Australian comedy in the last two decades there’s a 60-80% chance they had something to do with it), who have become as synonymous with Australian comedy as Agro and Arthur McArthur.
The animated comedy series spotlights a special undercover unit of the Gold Coast police known as Pacific Heat, led by Special Agent Todd Sommerville (Rob Sitch). The makeup of the squad will be familiar to anyone who’s seen a police procedural or two in their team—there’s the rule-bending leader, the tough guy, the brains, the flustered chief—but that’s part of the point. Pacific Heat is a knowing send-up of case-of-the-week cop shows, and the creators don’t shy away from the tropes that come with that territory.
With such a familiar setup, the show lives or dies based on its jokes, and Pacific Heat delivers in that department. The characters are all stock archetypes, but the creators know those types so well that they can wring a few solid laughs out of each scene.
Working within the cop show milieu and playing with retro devices inspired by the likes of Miami Vice does lead the creators to a few less fortunate joke opportunities, primarily to do with race. The first episode features Asian gangster villains, with cartoonish voices and jokes about their accents, which creates an odd impression in 2016. Thankfully, rather than perpetuate these old stereotypes, most of the gags highlight the absurdity of them; especially a couple of cracker gags about subtitles (I mean they’re good gags. I don’t mean that they’re, like, gags out of Christmas crackers. Although they could be, I guess).
If you're in the mood for an entertaining cop show parody with a gag-after-gag pace and a few familiar voices, Pacific Heat is the show for you. If you’re not in the mood for that… I dunno, Great Australian Bake Off, maybe? That’s pretty good.
Pacific Heat premieres on Sundays from November 27 on Foxtel’s The Comedy Channel.
Daniel Hall is a screenwriter and pop-culture commentator who has written about a variety of shows for a variety of websites.
Twitter - @danieljohnhall