Comedy on the edge (of the bush)

One of the stand-out cameos in Get Krackin last week was Anne Edmonds as fashion expert Helen Bidou, a near-perfect parody of the sort of TV personality who’d continue to smile inanely and prattle on even as she was being forced into a straightjacket by the sort of mental health workers who presumably no longer exist.

Edmonds specialises in creating grotesque characters and parodies and taking them as far as they can be taken before they become unfunny. Some might say they do become unfunny. There was certainly some debate here at Tumbleweed Towers about that recently. For one of us, Helen Bidou was so exaggerated and awful that she stopped being funny entirely.

So, what to make of The Edge of the Bush, where Edmonds plays a family of mercurial characters with a dark secret in her trademark style. Well, maybe it’ll improve, but one episode in and we’re not exactly hooked. Clearly, whatever happened to split the Watts family apart is so big and complicated that it takes more than 10 minutes to set it up. Which is a bit of a problem when each episode is 10 minutes long and they’re aired a week apart – and when, based on episode 1, they’re not exactly hilarious or full of characters you wish to spend time with.

Also, there’s something really jarring about the way The Edge of the Bush is full of incredibly over-the-top characters but is also a stylistic parody of shows like The Killing and Top of the Lake. Not only does the Scandi noir-esque background music and moody lighting really kill the comedy, it’s hard to deal with crazy comedy characters on top of a dark, twisted plot. It’s like every element of the show has been dialed up to 11; watching this feels exhausting!

We like Edmonds and the way she throws everything she’s got into her creations, but there needs to be more light and shade in The Edge of the Bush. And it’s pity there isn’t because there’s some good stuff in this show. Dusty’s songs about sheep and other outback Australiana are brilliantly – and deliberately – badly written. And the send-ups of callisthenics and the Watts family’s enthusiasm for it are Kath & Kim-esque marvels of suburban parody and choreographical horror.

Perhaps The Edge of the Bush will find its feet in episode 2, but from what we’ve seen, we fear the rest of this series will be more of the same.

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