If there’s one big problem with the current wave of dramedies – and there’s dozens of problems, but let’s continue – it’s that they’ve replaced comedy’s jokes and drama’s drama with… nothing. Dramadies are just aimless, drawn out dramas with a mildly amusing premise. They’re half an hour of limp dialogue and static staging that builds up to a punchline that’s almost always “you just wasted your time”.
Funding bodies love them because they tick various boxes audiences don’t care about, which is why they almost always start with a big funding body logo. Creators love them because they’re easy; they’re meant to have low dramatic stakes and “naturalistic” dialogue that’s unfunny and forgettable. There’s almost nothing you can do to make the format work. Or at least, that’s what we thought until we saw Triple Oh!
Now available at SBS On Demand, Triple Oh! is the story of two paramedics – Tayls (Brooke Satchwell) and Cate (Tahlee Fereday) – who attend various somewhat amusing emergencies. The twist is, Tayls has a policy of having sex every time a patient dies. And as someone just died before the start of episode one, newbie Cate is torn. Should she overthink things, or just enjoy the afterglow?
Why it works is simple: each episode (there are five) is around 7-8 minutes long. Someone has a medical problem, our leads banter is interrupted when they get the call out, they turn up and sort things out. The story moves forward a notch, we’re done.
There’s nothing here that’s all that much better than your typical dramedy. The medical problems are more wacky than drama (two of the five are sex related; one is a time-waster that leaves the paramedics trapped in an elevator; one involves too-tight jeans). The banter is good but not exactly memorable. The on-going plot is a will-they won’t-they deal complicated briefly by some unexpected social media fame and Tayls’ seen-it-all cynicism.
But by stripping everything down to the bare essentials, it loses all the bloat that makes most dramedies unwatchable. Turns out that whole “brevity is the soul of wit” thing goes double when you’re dealing with a guy with a broomhandle up his arse.
Sure, even without 18 minutes of blather every episode, this isn’t some rapid-fire joke machine. If you want that, there’s a few candidates in the current First Blood schedule worth checking out. Triple Oh! just has some nice performances, some nicely shot scenes, and a bunch of throwaway comedy ideas.
And it’s around 50 minutes all up. Which turns out to be exactly as long as it needs to be.