Utopian principles

If there’s a utopia for Australian comedy, it’s not Utopia series 3. The third series of a sitcom should build on past successes – and Utopia’s previous series were largely successful – but also give us, the audience, something new. Based on last night’s episode of Utopia, there’s nothing new for us to see here. It’s the same as it ever was.

Is not giving the audience anything new making a wider point, here? Because things never really change in government, then neither should the fundamentals of Utopia as a television series?

No. Utopia is meant to be entertainment, and audiences stop watching sitcoms if the jokes and situations are pretty much the same every week.

In last night’s episode, we saw how a project came to a halt because our friends at the NBA had to satisfy the needs of every Tom, Diane and Hassan before they could start work. Meanwhile, the team got so wrapped up in a team building scheme – an NBA’s Got Talent competition – that things got a bit out of control and the fire brigade had to be called.

The talent competition was funny, shonky cabaret acts are always funny, but we’ve seen this kind of thing on Utopia before. Speaking truth to power and gently mocking the follies of us humans? That’s every previous episode of Utopia ever.

We like Working Dog; 30+ years into their careers they’re still funny and still making good shows. And writing about what government does with our money is a good thing, but the aim of Utopia is (or should be) to make a comedy that people will watch every week, not to catalogue every possible way that governments could waste our taxes.

Utopia is a good show, but it seems there’s only so much you can say about nation building. And for this third series to work, some changes needed to be made to the show to allow new types of stories to be told and new types of laughs to be generated. But they weren’t. So, this feels like the end of the line for Utopia, which isn’t good just one episode into a new series.

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