Street Smart was described in TV Week‘s previews issue as a “hilarious and entertaining look at a team of bumbling crims who dream of fast cars, attractive women and getting rich quick.” I feel like the pilot lived up to most of this description.
When I read that Street Smart is the brainchild of Here Come the Habibs co-creators, Tahir Bilgic and Rob Shehadie, I wondered whether there would be any comedic similarities between the two shows. I did try to avoid making comparisons as I felt it was unfair to do so as this is a completely different show, and I mostly succeeded, however there are two similarities between the shows that are too obvious to be able to ignore: the over-the-top plot and stereotypes.
In regards to the over-the-top plot, this series got off to to a great start with the Street Smart gang’s plan to steal from the confiscated items room of the local police station. The writers’ choice to have the gang try to pull off possibly the biggest and most daring heist any gang, let alone theirs, could do was a good one. It would be too boring to have them start small and work their way up, and we know that their plan will fall apart eventually, finding out how such a big and daring plan will inevitably fail is more interesting to watch.
Despite the fact that they are labelled “Australia’s dumbest criminals”, this episode in many ways proved that while they are clearly not the sharpest knives in the drawer by any means, they are not complete idiots either—-Steve (Bilgic) came up with the plan instantly and while their “uniforms” were never going to fool anyone, the gang managed to start and finish them in one night. I found it hilarious that when they realised that the police believe they are strippers for one of their officer’s retirement party, rather than fight it they embraced it, especially Steve as he is basically abandoning his own plan.
In regards to stereotypes, on a positive note there are not as many present as there were in Here Come the Habibs. This is due to the fact that the premise of Here Come the Habibs mostly revolved around race and racial stereotypes, where as Street Smart revolves around the over-the-top plans of bumbling crims that will inevitably fail. The most obvious stereotype is in the form of Hung’s (Andy Trieu) wife, Trans Phat (Maria Tran), the tough owner of a pork roll and nail business, and constantly asking Hung whether he “understand?” her orders. A minor stereotype is in the form of Joseph (Shehadie), especially his love of manoushs. Ironically despite these stereotypes, this show consists of a multicultural cast.
Despite the over-the-top plot, I did appreciate the tight writing of the episode. Every single character was utilised and all loose ends were tied up neatly. The gang put their plan in motion, saw a scary prisoner (Philip Partridge) on their way in, failed, inadvertently found another way to reach their financial goal, got mugged by the prisoner on the way out who attacked Joseph, who fell through the ceiling trying to sneak into the police station, the gang got their money back by an angry Trans attacking the prisoner, who was angry that Hung lied to her and ignored her, and she was there as the retirement party was the “big party” that she was catering and asked Hung to help her with at the beginning of the episode. I also appreciate the connection between Steve and Joseph, being cousins, as there is a plausible reason why a parking officer and not a police officer would be watching Steve.
The most interesting aspect of the episode for me was the irony that the gang did not actually commit a crime but Joseph ultimately did by breaking into the police station. I wonder whether this kind of outcome will be presented in every episode, while it’s smart writing-wise I can’t help but feel if it happened every time it would bore the viewers. On another note, I felt Tia (Casey Donovan) was under utilised, hopefully she’ll be utilised more as the series progresses. Considering the comedic nature of the show and that this is her first foray into acting, Donovan’s television debut wasn’t bad, her facial expressions were priceless and if she wants to continue down the acting path, some acting lessons for refinement would be a good idea.
Overall, while the plot was a little over-the-top, this pilot was well written and Street Smart shows some potential, I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the season and seeing where it goes.
-Steve is the leader of the gang, while Hung is the brains, Shane (Dave Eastgate) is the muscle, and Raj (Neel Kolhatkar) is the “wheelman” (Uber driver).
-Sadly Shane is probably not the first person to see a sewing machine and think it’s a Thermomix.
-I wonder how many heterosexual men have their wife’s phone number in their phone with the contact name “boss of me”.
-Considering the fact that the gang pulled an all-nighter and Shane thought the sewing machine was a Thermomix, they actually didn’t do a bad job on their “uniforms”.
-Part of the gang’s police uniforms consisted of plastic handcuffs, pink fluffy handcuffs, and Band-Aid name badges.
-Although we know why Joseph was banned from entering the police station, we don’t know why a four-month ban was given, it’s oddly specific.
Best one liners:
- “Technically I wasn’t in prison, I was at prison.” (Steve on being at the police station)
- “I’d like to buy a coffin for my stupid, lazy husband!” (Trans on the phone with White Lady Funerals)
- “What will I enjoy more…pulling out Hung’s nails before I kill him or after?” (Trans)
- “We’ve got another gig at Parliament House!” (Steve to the female police officers, making an excuse to leave)