In our review of episode 1 of Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane we hoped that the rest of the series would ”place more emphasis on getting laughs from dialogue, and writing song and dance sequences which work well on camera”. And in happy ending news, it has. Episodes 2-6 are much stronger than 1, with smarter dialogue, some well-realised musical sequences, and an ending which anticipates a second series…something we’d be happy to see. One of the better sitcoms this country’ produced for a while? Probably.
Partly this is down to the classic “odd couple” premise at the centre of the show – two people in a love/hate relationship = laughs – but it also helps enormously that one of them’s a puppet. As Team America: World Police and The Muppets proved, you can get away with a hell of a lot more with puppets.
Audiences will let puppets do just about anything (we can’t think of any other sitcom character who’s been able to dangle their cock and balls on screen). Oh, and the slapstick’s heaps funnier. Randy can be chucked about, over and in to anything – his legs and arms flailing and dangling amusingly as he flies through the air – and he’ll still survive. Humans, less so.
We also enjoyed the plots involving the various combinations of the love/hate/weird hexagon that was Sammy, Randy, Victoria, Borkman and Wednesday. Ricketts Lane did a good job of setting up that one, and in creating Boss from Hell Borkman, Super TV Bitch Victoria and Lovely/Slightly Creepy Wednesday. None of it was subtle characterisation, but it was funny.
As for the songs, they were pretty good too. You didn’t have to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of recent pop music to get them (hello Flight of the Conchords!) and they (mostly) weren’t what Andrew Lloyd Webber once described as the sort of musical song where you pause the action to sing about it for four minutes (and he should know!). Even shot without the kind of budget that made great screen comedy songs like Python’s Every Sperm Is Sacred hilarious, the Ricketts Lane songs were funny. That was nice to see after previous Australian comedy musical fails such as Bogan Pride.
Good dialogue, characters, plots and maybe some music – that’s all you need to make a good sitcom. Maybe more people should try it?