As a result of our minor reputation for reviewing Australian online comedy we get the odd e-mail from Australian online comedy makers asking us to review their shows. The latest e-mail we received along these lines concerned Lost Dog, an upcoming Channel 31 series comprising of “six tiny comedy shows”. The Lost Dog website has preview videos for each of the shows, which look to be an experimental mix of sitcoms and sketches. Those involved include the makers of Morningshines, a Channel 31 series we disliked, and the makers of Free Internet, a series of online sketches we liked. As the preview videos don’t give much away we’ll reserve judgement on Lost Dogfor the moment, but we’ll be watching when it airs in September.
Worth a look right now is a low budget sitcom we were contacted about many months back called Retreat (which can be viewed on the Glastonbury TV channel on YouTube). It’s main writer and star is Australian Rani Cameron, but the show is shot in Somerset, England and features a local cast. Set in a New Age retreat, the show follows the trials of Rachel (Cameron) as she tries to manage both the retreat and its staff and customers, who are largely a bunch of feckless, unhinged hippies.
Interestingly, the character of Rachel doesn’t spend much time coming out with the sort of pithy, smart-arse insults you’d expect of a sitcom character like her, she just lets the crazies that surround her do their thing while she gets on with her job. This allows the supporting cast plenty of opportunities to get laughs, and is an admirably subtle way of dealing with the culture clash between sane Rachel and the nutbag hippies. There are also some good gags involving amusing signs, and messages turning up in odd places, such as people’s food.
If you’ve ever worked in the UK you may also recognise elements of some of your British colleagues amongst the characters, and pick up on some of the culture clash at play for Australians in a British workplace, although this is a very minor element of the show, and Rachel’s nationality has not, so far, been explored in the series.
After just three episodes of Retreat it’s hard to tell exactly where the show is going – the episodes are kind of meandering, and some of the scenes are joke-free or seem pointless – but there’s clearly some potential here. With a bit more focus this could be pretty good.