When you compare Upper Middle Bogan and It’s A Date to the other Australian sitcoms of this year, Housos, Please Like Me, Leongatha, TwentySomething and the horrors to come, it’s clear that they’ve been the stand-outs. Admittedly the competition has not been strong, and both Upper Middle Bogan and It’s A Date were always going to have a wider appeal in terms of subject matter and style of humour, but winners they are none the less.
As we’ve pointed out before, It’s A Date could run for years and years assuming it continues to attract good writers…which it didn’t always do. Reasonably high profile guest stars are important too but not essential. The idea of Ross Noble and Ian “Harold from Neighbours” Smith as a gay couple dancing the flamenco and making a Trojan Horse in the shed is funny as a concept if you know who they are – and how they different they are – but as a slow burn story spread over half an hour…not so much. While there was a lot of charm in this series it would have been better if it had been charming AND funny, but at least the self-indulgence the killed off any charm present in Please Like Me was nowhere to be seen.
Upper Middle Bogan was interesting more because of the huge difference in style and quality when different writers wrote the scripts. The scripts from Tony Martin and Gary McCaffrie broadcast in the middle of the season were lighter on the plot and more focused on getting laughs from the interplay of the characters, whereas the Gristmill-penned episodes which bookended the series needed to set things up and bring them to some sort of conclusion. In the mid series episodes the ensemble cast each got their time to shine and play off each other, and the unlikely friendships between Margaret and Brianna and Kayne and Oscar were particularly good at generating laughs. It’d be nice to think someone in Australia could make a sitcom which raised a few laughs as it got through all the functional/plot stuff but maybe we have to wait for series 2 for that? The Librarians certainly improved once the characters were better established.
Overall it would be good to see either It’s A Date or Upper Middle Bogan back on air, which seems likely given the ratings. It’s not often that we side with mainstream opinion (thanks for the new government, guys!), but this time they got it right.