On The Up

Is it just us or have the last few episodes of Upper Middle Bogan been a bit funnier the earlier ones? The fact that they were written by Tony Martin (episode 4 – “Picture Perfect”) and Gary McCaffrie (episode 5 – “No Angel”) may be a hint as to why.

Episode 4 was particularly good: loaded with fast paced, well executed gags, plus some great cameos from Tony Moclair and Justin Hamilton. What was particularly interesting was the sort of attention to detail in the plot that you rarely see in Australian comedy, where elaborate set-ups you didn’t notice being set up were knocked-down in ways you didn’t expect. If you liked the better episodes of One Foot In The Grave it was a bit like that, but in a very Tony Martin way (i.e. lots of gags for film nerds).

The other good news is that there’s more Martin and McCaffrie writing and directing, plus a Martin cameo coming up later in the series. If you’re a fan of consistency in sitcoms the variance in styles and tones across the series’ episodes might rankle, but if you bowed out after week three (as we almost did) now might be the time to get yourself over to iView and see how good Upper Middle Bogan can be.

Episodes of It’s A Date have also been pretty variable thus far, but that’s less surprising as each episode has a different set of writers and characters. Inevitably some will be better than others and in a way that’s good, because if there’s one thing Australian sitcoms lacks it’s variety.

We recently complained about Australian sitcoms being the almost exclusive preserve of the middle class, and while the plots in It’s A Date have largely involved middle class characters it’s notable that many have also involved non-Anglo Australians, and/or children, and/or older people, and/or gays – so pretty much the full spectrum of the Australian rainbow, and a nice change from the endless parade of WASPish 20/30 year olds.

Some of the scripts have also been pretty funny, and theoretically It’s A Date could go on forever – they just need a steady supply of stories about first time dates. And even if the quality of the shows remains variable, at least each one would be totally new.

We’ve already had a fair bit to say about the imminent return of Chris Lilley in Ja’mie: Private School Girl, but a major part of the problem is it’ll just be more of the same. Even if you like Chris Lilley surely you’re tired of Ja’mie by now? Ultimately, there’s only so much you can say about a character, and It’s A Date gets it spot on by devoting less than 15 minutes to each one.

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  • Tony Tea says:

    While UMB was shouty last night, I rather liked IAD, especially Winston and, errr, the girl in the muffin shop.

  • Jimbo says:

    It wasn’t just last night that UMB was shouty. I can’t recall the last time someone attempted comedy in this country where just about every line of dialogue was delivered via people yelling at each other. Don’t Gristmill understand the concept of comic tone? Christ almighty – it was like the lamest soap opera ever. I was expecting Larry Hagman to turn up with his massive hat.

    I notice UMB’s ratings took a nosedive last night. From 900k (first episode) to 687k (IAD fared even worse – 584k). Guess I’m not the only one who thinks it sucks bigtime.

    Hands up who watched Please Like Me on ABC1 the other day? Try as they might, ABC just can’t get anyone to watch that show. Its ratings didn’t climb above what it got on ABC2. I have a feeling series two of PLM is going to be flogged to death on ABC over the next year, given ABC’s investment in it.

  • Москверод says:

    My god, you are nothing but a ‘rent a crowd’ for Hope, Butler and Martin.

    I read this increasingly sanctimonious blog for a proper critique not sycophant praise.

    UMB is rubbish and should be called for it. Australian comedy is dead.

  • Zaid Alasfar says:

    the dialogue in UMB seems too fast-paced, makes the show feel very scripted rather than natural and free flowing. I mean in real-life not everyone’s mind is that sharp that they can process what someone is saying to them and retort within milli-seconds….

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    True, but naturalistic dialogue isn’t always what you want in a comedy either – having people firing back jokes back and forth is often a better result than a whole lot of pauses and not-quite jokes. For us at least The Office isn’t a high water mark in comedy, and that style of dialogue fails more often than it succeed.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    If you think Australian comedy is dead, what was the show that killed it? And more importantly, what was the last show you liked? It’s hardly a golden age at the moment, but shows are still being made and where there’s life there’s hope…

  • urinal cake says:

    As said before UMB is MF with a Beverly Hillbillies twist. UMB gets the pathos and sentimentality much better but MF has the jokes. And for a comedy that’s vital.

    IAD I haven’t watched too much of and seems neither has Australia.