The reality series premieres tonight (July 15) at 11 p.m. (10 p.m. Central) on AMC.
The topic tonight is restroom business, more specifically the issues that arise in the bathroom of this small-town security firm.
Like, what's with the greasy spot on the wall above the commode?
"Y'all put y'all's hand on the wall while you pee?" office secretary Christa asks the guys.
"Depends on how tired we are," replies Dennis, the company's detective.
"If my back is hurting me, I have to kind of brace myself and lean against the wall," elaborates Irwin, the firm's none-too-motivated sales rep, before adding why he doesn't do it sitting down.
The things you learn on this new unscripted series!
"Small Town Security" explores work-a-day life at JJK Security & Investigations, a small, family-run security and private investigation company based in the north Georgia town of Ringgold (population roughly 3,000). Its weekly run of eight half-hours begins on AMC Sunday at 11 p.m. EDT immediately following "Breaking Bad," which seems oddly fitting: This show is as unexpected in its own way as is "Breaking Bad" with its bizarrely scripted twists.
But to call "Small Town Security" a reality show would be to misappropriate the term routinely applied to the likes of "Jersey Shore" or "The Apprentice." Thanks to JJK Security's unique team of employees and the skill with which they're captured on film, "Small Town Security" bristles with authenticity even as it feels deliriously (and sometimes hilariously) hyper-real with its larger-than-life characters.
On hand is Lamb Chop, the yipping, ankle-humping rat-dog belonging to Joan Koplan (aka "The Chief"). At the same time, Dennis Croft ("The Lieutenant") is ever-present with high-alert dignity, voicing his vision of JJK Security as an "elite force, the epitome of command."
In short, the series zeroes in on the range of absurdity abounding in this tiny world, yet treats it with respect. (Executive producers are Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver, whose credits include Showtime's TV version of "This American Life," VH1's "Mob Wives" and Planet Green's splendid "Boomtown.")
Part of the secret to the show's success is this: The characters regularly own up to their quirkiness, but without flaunting it for the cameras. They share without showing off. And what they reveal is much more than stereotypes. This makes the viewer not a voyeur, but a privileged onlooker.
The star of the show is Joan, unquestioned and worshipped as the boss, who at 61 yearns for stardom and always has.
Heavy-lidded, cigar-smoking, with a taste for dirty magazines, she declares her life's mission was to "either be a police officer or a celebrity. I've always had a quest for attention."
As evidence, she plays a recording of herself at age 14 belting out a slam-bang "Going to Kansas City." She recalls her glamour-girl role as an Amazon Girl in a long-forgotten drive-in flick, "Zan, King of the Jungle," and as a sultry, heavily mascaraed candidate for sheriff (she lost).
Only much later, after starting JJK with husband Irwin, did Joan find some measure of fame: She volunteered to be a host on the Ringgold public-access TV channel. But then creative differences (including Joan's habitual graphic language) brought an end to her show.
That was three years ago. Now Joan has an itch to do the show again.
We see her talking it over with the station's owner, Judy O'Neal, who agrees to take her back but cautions her to watch what she says.
"So what am I supposed to call a breast?" asks Joan. "A 'bosom' or —"
"Talk about dogs and cats or something else," Judy interrupts hastily, then asks, "Have you still got YOUR dog?"
"Yeah, I've got my Lamb Chop."
"I've got five Shih-Tzus," Judy tells her.
"YOU just said a bad word," Joan slyly fires back.
The night arrives for her return broadcast, when, against all odds, "Joan Koplan's Forum" has a guest who brings the audience a jaw-dropping, heart-tugging surprise.
That's unlikely to be the last surprise looming on "Small Town Security" as its resident eccentrics share safe harbor at JJK Security, where there's security for them as much as for their clients. This well-observed series does their peculiarities proud.