Dead in the water

The first episode of Die on Your Feet, the long un-aired Greg Fleet sitcom about five Melbourne stand-ups/friends (Greg Fleet as Bob, Alan Brough as OJ, Steven Gates as JJ, Corinne Grant as Sophie and Adam Hills as Brian), finally made it to air on Thursday. And if you’re wondering why we’ve taken this long to review it, it’s because we have to rely on friends (thanks!) to get hold of this sort of thing (anyone want to crowdfund our purchasing a HD TV?). So, will we be asking our source to send us episode 2..? Maybe.

First episodes are always difficult: they’re setting up the characters, planting the seeds for some upcoming plots, and establishing a format and style for the rest of the show. But if this is anything to go by we’re in for seven more episodes of comedians sitting around trying to out smart-arse each other, and not a lot else happening. OK, there was a plot about how Brian and Sophie used to date each other, which can easily be played across the rest of the series, and this episode had a bit of “peril” for O.J., who didn’t have a spot on the Gala or an ad in the MICF programme…all of which could see him losing $40,000, but mostly it was just some or all of the five sitting around trading quips and insults.

…All of which might have been bearable if said quips and insults were really funny. Sadly not. Mostly we see them bitching about other comedians they know, who (presumably for legal reasons) aren’t actual living comedians that the audience would be familiar with, leaving anyone watching this to try and work out what they’re talking about. Add in some pointless talking head cutaways with the main characters which do nothing to drive the plot forward, and, well, there’s a lot of dead wood in this series.

Once again, we can do no better than to quote Jumperpants, who commented on Die on Your Feet following its screening at last year’s MICF:

There are a lot of reasons why it will not be bought or aired unless for drama points. Here are some.

1. Very little story. Largely a group of comedians sitting round talking about the comedy industry and not being particularly entertaining.

2. Adam Hills and Corinne Grant cannot act.

3. Shot like a soapy. Terrible lighting, there are scenes where outdoor scenes look like they were shot in a studio.

4. Way way too much swearing to play it at a reasonable hour. Most of the swearing is pointless and boring.

5. The ‘story’ is intercut with to camera pieces where the characters talk about comedy. This is not really different from the other scenes and adds nothing.

6. All of the characters are all unlikeable and very similar.

7. The ‘drama’ is awful, Corinne Grant and Adam Hills have zero chemistry and you don’t believe for a second that they went out.

8. They admitted they started shooting without finishing the script and it shows.

9. Very poorly directed. Some scenes have documentary style shaky cam, some have traditional set shots but with weird cut aways to actors saying nothing and looking blanks, probably indicating a lack of coverage. Strange use of crane shots when actors a sitting in an empty theatre for no apparent reason other than GNW having the crane in place for the Gala.

9. The ‘plot’ in unbelievable. In episode one Brough’s character laments that he isn’t on at the gala and as such will not sell tickets to his show. The other characters act like this is the end of the world and he will never get on at such short notice. In the next scene a phone call has been made and he is performing at the gala.

10. There are strange music choices. i.e original music with lyrics by the boring one from the Gadflys playing in the background that make it hard to concentrate on the dialogue.

11. No actual comedy performing shown. So it’s a ‘comedy’ about characters who are comedians who talk about comedy but you don’t get to see the characters perform. This is fine if it was a traditional narrative show but it’s cut up like a sketch show where the same boring characters are drinking together in a different location in each scene. You have very little idea about what they are like either as people or comedians. You could swap their lines around for the most part and there would be little difference.

12. The insider machinations of the comedy industry appears much more interesting in theory than in practice.

I like most of the people involved as performers, some of them I’ve been watching for over 10 years as a live comedy fan. I also don’t mind GNW’s shows. They introduced me to a lot of live comedy. This is looks like something made by someone who has never directed or written anything before. It’s that bad. Really it’s an absolute car crash. The only thing I don’t understand is how they didn’t realise it and put it in a draw forever.

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4 Comments

  • Bernard says:

    C’mon, were you not moved to tears by the heartfelt pleadings of Adam Hills to Corrine Grant, with lines such as, “I miss the way we made love”?

  • Billy C says:

    It’s on ten play if you don’t want to wait. This week there’s the scene involving Adam Hills and a cricket bat.

  • Yeps says:

    I’m imagining that cricket bat is used in an Untouchables-style critique of Corine Grant’s work on The Glass House.

  • Billy C says:

    That’s actually surprisingly close to the mark. It’s really an amazing scene. No dialogue so possibly a bit like the Potemkin scene that Mamet refused to write. All made possible by a lighting designer who couldn’t light a match.