A Bit of a Dog’s Breakfast

Colin From Accounts is a romantic comedy, which would usually send us running for the hills. Comedy? Love that stuff. Romantic comedy? That’s usually a love story with some mild banter and maybe – if you’re lucky – a wacky mix-up or zany best friend. So why are we reviewing this one?

Mostly because for a romantic comedy, it’s surprisingly light on the romance. Thanks to the set-up, the two leads are pushed together sooner than either really finds comfortable – which works out well, because it means a lot of the early “romance” stuff is them trying to pull away from each other and fight against the situation they’re in. But we’re getting ahead of things.

Gordon (Patrick Brammall) owns a microbrewery yet somehow is not a total wanker, while Ashley (Harriet Dyer) is a medical student who doesn’t mind a drink and a sleep in. They meet on a street corner in inner-city Sydney – he’s driving, she’s walking, he stops to let her cross, she flashes a boob as a thank you and does this kind of thing really happen oh wait “romantic comedy”. Anyway, Gordon is distracted and runs over a dog.

The pair race the dog to a vet, where for some reason they end up a): owning the dog and b): owing $12000 in vet bills. Things get more complicated from there as Gordon can’t have a dog in his life, Ashley can but she can’t have a dog in her flat, and soon Gordon has both a dog and Ashley living with him. Plus he owes the vet $6000 because they’ve decided to split the bill. But hey, what price love?

Dyer – who also created this series and wrote a number of episodes – has been appearing in a lot of different series recently, but it’s her work on Matt Okine’s The Other Guy that’s relevant here. There she played Stevie, a drug-loving party gal who was… let’s say, “in your face”. Here, she plays a similar character, only this time she’s often funny and likable.

Likewise, Brammall isn’t wandering far from his comfort zone as a non-threatening dork with a decent heart and a second-guessing brain. So good news, everybody: this is a rom-com where you’ll probably want the two leads to find some level of happiness, maybe even with each other.

But is it funny? Well, it’s often trying to be, and we’re always happy to hand out points for effort. On the other hand it’s a real grab bag of styles, and that’s being generous. There are jokes in here we haven’t seen attempted in years: they actually do the old “oh wow this date’s really awkward, they have no chemistry and [SMASH CUT] now they’re passionately making out in the back of a car whuuuuut” gag.

Yeah, but is there toilet humour? Ashley is literally rummaging around in a toilet in the first episode. And then she sleep-pisses on Gordon’s bedside dresser in the next episode (making Dyer two for two when it comes to pissy sitcoms). Then her mum turns up to let her know some random childhood friend’s been raped. Meanwhile, Gordon’s talking to his doctor about cancer. What is this, 2003?

Who knows, maybe it’s time for this kind of “shocking” comedy to come back in style. At least it’s trying to be funny! Trying really hard! Which is kind of the tone of the whole series. Are we talking a wacky mix up involving an accidental dick pic? You know we are.

Working against the comedy’s… uh, manic energy (we’re going to be charitable there) is the way the locations are all very inner city and tasteful and oh look a microbrewery. Which is what you expect from a rom-com where the rom is the point, but… did we mention Ashley plucks a giant turd from a toilet and throws it out the window? Love may be in the air, but it’s clearly not the only thing up there.

“At least it’s a comedy” is something we’d really like to say here, but if you stick around you’ll discover that this is not a series that shies away from tragic backstories and heartfelt moments. Fortunately it delays them long enough that by the time the waterworks start, the unwary viewer will have become emotionally invested in the characters. If that hasn’t happened – maybe because you’re here for the comedy – chances are that you are going to bounce right off these scenes.

This isn’t a series like Summer Love where it was clear the comedy was a distant second. This has plenty of jokes and some of them are pretty good. It’s just all over the place with its comedy, and the aforementioned comedy isn’t really the type that fits in well with a romance – even a down-to-earth, plain-speaking one like this.

There’s a lot here to like (if nothing else, the dog has been selected for maximum adorableness). But there’s also a lot here to like somewhat less, and they’re all jumbled together like a… what’s the term again?

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