Australian Tumbleweeds

Australia's most opinionated blog about comedy.

They’re Big and They’re Cheezy

Fat Pizza is back! Well, kind of. There’s a pizza shop, Bobo (John Boxer) waves around a chainsaw, Sleek the Elite (Paul Nakad) is shown in a couple of clips that quite possibly could have come from last season, and there’s yet another version of that “subwoofa” song. What more do you need?

Before anyone can say “I dunno, some comedy?”, let’s remember it’s Fat Pizza we’re talking about here. Oh wait, wasn’t Fat Pizza the one halfway decent franchise from the House of Paul Fenech? While Housos started shit and fell apart from there, and Swift & Shift was just Pizza with slightly fewer ethnic stereotypes, Fat Pizza used to be… okay, not good, but not completely shithouse.

(“Not completely shithouse” – Australian Tumbleweeds)

What made the original Pizza and Fat Pizza work – yeah, yeah, “work” – was that it featured a cast of mildly distinct characters. That meant there were subplots. It wasn’t just Fenech running around bumping into various comedy grotesques for a scene then running off to the next scene featuring a new comedy freak. Which is all Fenech’s been making for the last few years now and much like the pizzas, it’s getting pretty stale.

Possibly this extremely dull plot structure has been forced on him by coronavirus. Considering the first episode of the all new Fat Pizza features a bunch of crowd scenes, possibly not. As a creative choice it’s a bit strange, but this is a series that has to spend half of the first episode undoing the cliffhanger from the previous season, which also had to spend half its first episode undoing the cliffhanger from the season before that, and that season opened with Fenech’s character escaping from a sex dungeon after fifteen years. Guess you got to follow your muse.

Okay, so there’s less plot, less regular characters, less new characters (Pauly doesn’t even hire any new staff for the pizza shop this time) and not as many “big name” cameos; what’s left? Well, there’s an extended scene where Pauly wrestles with a roid’ed out white supremacist woman who doesn’t like pineapple on her pizza but who does have a massively enlarged clit due to the steroids. Does Pauly win the fight by biting it? Hey, if we had to watch it, you have to read about it.

It’s possible some of this could be funny in an “I can’t believe what I’m watching” fashion, but Paul Fenech has been doing this stuff for so long now that even when he’s shocking there’s no shock left. A shocking episode of Fat Pizza would (have some jokes? – ed) be one where the comedy was based even slightly on characters rather than Fenech opening a door and being confronted by some “outrageous” character or activity for the sixth time in twenty minutes.

The first Fat Pizza movie was on television a few months ago, and while the bar for Australian comedy films is pretty low – thanks in part to Fenech’s later efforts – it wasn’t all bad. It was basically a series of skits, but they weren’t all the same skit. The ethnic stereotypes seemed at least slightly grounded in reality (the African Gangs in the current run of Fat Pizza, not so much), it took wild turns that didn’t always involve someone getting their dick out, and there was more going on than just Fenech running around pulling faces.

Fenech’s forgotten the ingredients that made Fat Pizza work. All that’s left now is sour dough.

Vale The Moth Effect

The final episode of The Moth Effect was released on Amazon on Friday, and while it had some good moments, it’s not a show we will particularly miss. This was a show which promised a lot but mostly failed to deliver. It was a sketch show where the makers (mostly) didn’t manage to get beyond a funny premise. They had a good solid idea for a sketch and…that was it. They didn’t start with their good solid idea and build on it, and they (mostly) didn’t manage to write lots of funny lines in their sketches. They had a funny idea, and that was all you got. One idea and one laugh per sketch. That’ll do, right?

Take the interrogation sketch in episode six. A man is being interrogated by the cops in a run-down warehouse, but the cops can’t extract the information they need from him. Enter Woke Cop, who tries to wear down the man by being over-empathic and sensitive to his needs. And after that doesn’t work, enter Stand-Up Comedy Cop, who bombards the man with piss-poor material until he’ll do anything to make it stop. This sketch had about four laughs in it and went for about as many minutes, with most of those laughs coming from the piss-poor stand-up material. And if you’re wondering why The Moth Effect didn’t just scrap the interrogation premise and give us a piss-poor stand-up routine instead, then so are we. It would have been funnier.

The Moth Effect

But who needs actual laughs when you can make obvious points instead? The Moth Effect had plenty of sketches referencing topical issues and concerns, such as the lack of government action on climate change (which is a fair point to make but hardly a mirth fest). Another theme we saw several times was woke and cancel culture, such as in the parody game show ‘Who Gives a Shit?’, in which contestants had to answer questions on what does and doesn’t matter. ‘Who Gives a Shit?’ took pot-shots at internet activists, online conspiracy theorists and the ultra-woke but failed to make a solid satirical point beyond “they’re all idiots”. It wasn’t even particularly funny.

Where The Moth Effect was on safer ground was when they parodied TV shows. Several quick-fire sketches concerned an inane breakfast show called ‘Sunnyside Up’ in which a reporter doing a live cross reminded the fun-loving hosts back in the studio of some bleak truths. While the final episode of the series included a solid parody of various reality shows (The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise, Survivor, MasterChef, Big Brother) in which the usual fame-hungry types and pointless influencers competed to fuck a television. Partly it was the instantly recognisable premise that made these parodies funny (the high-concept sketches could sometimes be a bit obtuse), but mainly it was the high-ish gag rate that made these enjoyable. Sketches with more than one joke in them! What an idea.

If The Moth Effect wants to make a better second series, it needs to concentrate more on making us laugh than telling us stuff we already know. Yes, the environment is stuffed and the government doesn’t give a damn. But you’re a sketch show, make us laugh about that issue or don’t bother with it.

Nerves Are Getting Frayed

Press release time!

The wait is nearly over… Frayed season two launching this month

It’s time to grab the shoulder pads and head back to the 1980s once again. The highly-acclaimed, six-part comedy series Frayed, written by and starring the multi-talented Australian comedy star Sarah Kendall, is set to return to ABC TV and ABC iview from Wednesday 29 September at 9pm. 

Season two kicks off in London, where the lives and secrets of the Cooper family continue to unravel as they deal with the ramifications of season one’s explosive finale, and their Australian past insists on catching up with them.

Having made it out of Australia, Sammy (Sarah Kendall) and her kids, Lenny (Frazer Hadfield) and Tess (Maggie Ireland-Jones), find themselves living in a tiny London flat, as Sammy frantically tries to prove that her lawyer, Rufus (Robert Webb), stole her house.  Barely able to make ends meet working in ‘exhaust management’ (she’s a secretary in a muffler repair shop), Sammy is desperate to find a way to reclaim her opulent London life. She also needs to keep her kids far away from Australia and the truth about what happened to their neighbour, Terry.

Meanwhile back down under in Newcastle, an ambitious cop named Fairbank (Hamish Michael) has been brought in to head up the missing persons case and simply does not believe Terry would just disappear. With Jim (Ben Mingay), Jean (Kerry Armstrong) and Abby (Alexandra Jensen) trying to keep their secret hidden, and con artist Bev (Doris Younane) lurking on the scene, it’s only a matter of time before the truth catches up with Sammy.

Frayed debuted on ABC TV in Australia and on Sky in the UK in October 2019. The series was nominated for five AACTA Awards and Kendall also garnered a BAFTA Television Award nomination for Female Performance in a Comedy Programme.

Let’s go out on a limb for once: good news! Season one was a rare example of a drama that used comedy well (or vice versa), and having it back on our screens is a pleasant reminder that Australian scripted television can reach beyond the boundaries of Fat Pizza, which is also back next week but let’s worry about that later.

All My Friends Are Unbearable

All My Friends Are Racist is the kind of show that can easily slip under the radar, largely because it’s the what – third? fifth? – Australian “youth” comedy of recent times in which a pair of unbearable twenty-somethings swan around using social media and woke attitudes to justify their self-centered behaviour. It’s a classic comedy set-up, though not until you remove the words “classic” and “comedy”.

What makes this different from the recent Why Are You Like This and the upcoming Iggy & Ace and possibly another half-dozen proposals that just got funding is that here the two obnoxious social-media-obsessed hard-partying twenty-somethings at the heart of the show are 1): indigenous and 2): slightly more obnoxious than usual, thus making it slightly easier to call it “a comedy”. Because the only joke any of these shows have to offer aside from the idea that references to eating ass are automatically funny / edgy is “omg these people are awful!” And then the realisation that there’s five and a half more episodes to go sinks in.

(“unhealthy friendships” doesn’t seem like the only thing that defines the youth of today. Yet if you’re making a government-funded Australian sitcom aimed at anyone under 30, that’s the only character dynamic you’re allowed. Is every old fart on every commissioning board worried that their kids aren’t playing enough sport or something?)

Last week’s first episode (the whole season is currently available on iView) saw Casey the gay Aboriginal influencer (Davey Thompson) and Belle the Aboriginal trainee lawyer (Tuuli Narkle) get #cancelled after their serial killer wall documenting all their friends’ racist / sexist / politically dubious failings was exposed at their latest party. Turns out exposing racism only makes you more popular online, but can they survive on likes and follows alone?

All My Friends Are Racist is the television version of those online comedy articles where the headline is the joke. The actual episode fills in the details of the synopsis, but it’s the synopsis that contains the “comedy”. In fact, watching the episodes themselves makes the show less funny, because while the performances are definitely big enough to get the point across, they’re also…

Okay, it seems weird to have to say it out loud, but for decades one of the rock-solid cornerstones of comedy was the double act. You had two characters: one was overtly funny, the other set up the gags and reacted to them. It worked. It got laughs. It was the basis for many of the most successful comedy teams ever. And yet when it comes to Australian comedy, all we get are shows where two functionally identical characters fight over the same tiny scrap of unfunny ground.

There are two main characters in this show and they are for all comedic intents and purposes identical. Sure, one is slightly more flamboyant, the other slightly more reserved; they’re still basically the same character. The cast do a good job of bringing the characters to life; they’re still the same character. This isn’t Frasier, where an ensemble cast balances out the identical leads. Why have 100% of your core cast playing the same character?

This week’s episode lifted its game a little with the introduction of Casey and Belle’s families. Rich, successful, conservative, “white saviour” – suddenly there’s some comedy-producing character clashes going on. Or there would be, except that what we actually got was alarmingly close to straight drama.

Belle wanted understanding from a white mother trying to be more Black than her daughter; Casey wanted money from a family that accepted who he was, but weren’t willing to tolerate him fighting with his polar opposite brother. Neither were particularly hilarious scenarios, but this show had too much respect for its characters (why?) to even try to get laughs out of the clash between silly and serious.

(and when they did try, the result was a comedy dance titled “free my white nipple”; even if you don’t think comedy dances stopped being funny around the time of that one on The (UK) Office, it wasn’t a high point)

Here’s an idea: what if the ABC started making drama for young people and comedy for the olds? Okay, Rosehaven already is comedy for the old folk, but it does seems like young people’s lives can only be reflected back to them through comedies laughing at their excesses. Presumably the idea is that hey, we can all laugh at status obsessed bitches, right guize? And yet over and over again the answer comes back: no.

What’s worse is that part of the supposed appeal of All My Friends Are Racist is seeing Indigenous millennials sticking it to the (white) man. Yet while individual lines get the job done out of context (and others can be funny in and of themselves, like when Casey says to his white sex buddy “lick me, Captain Cook”) the characters saying them are meant to be the ones we’re laughing at. Did we learn nothing from the “success” of Ja’mie, Private School Girl? Or did we learn a little too much?

Question Everything, especially the promo interviews

In a recent appearance on Triple M’s Molloy to promote Question Everything, Wil Anderson said a few things which tell us more about why Question Everything is so deeply, deeply flawed.

I had to come to Sydney about seven weeks ago to do this show…it’s great to make a show during a lockdown, it’s always one of the greatest challenges in comedy trying to make a cameraman laugh with the same joke he’s heard five times in rehearsal. You won’t get a Logie for it, but you’ll earn it.

Wait, he was in Sydney working on the show for SIX WEEKS before the first episode went to air? What was he doing all that time? Clearly not writing decent jokes for his own links, that’s for sure. Links that are regularly less funny than the jokes of the newcomer comedian panellists.

Speaking of which, why is Question Everything full of young comedians you may not have heard of rather than the usual bunch of established comedians who always appear on these types of shows? Anderson explains:

The idea of it was…I was in lockdown, and I was looking at the comedy community, and was thinking what can I do for younger comedians? And when we started there was always these shows you could go on as a new comedian to get exposure… I wanted to design something; a panel show for brand new comedians…

Great, a new talent showcase. Well done, Wil. This is exactly the kind of thing a successful comedian with several decades of experience, and our taxpayer-funded national broadcaster should be doing: nurturing new talent, giving them a platform on TV to show us what they can do… Oh, wait… what was that Anderson said later in the interview?

So, I imagined [Question Everything] would be the return to live audiences… Get a full audience at the ABC, comedians from all over the country and then some stuff started happening in Sydney and New South Wales and I was…that’s fine, there are plenty of good comedians in New South Wales. And in the last few weeks, we’ve had a map on our wall of Local Government Areas in Sydney and where the guests might live and just crossed them off, one by one. It’s been great, mate. Perfect conditions to make a TV show.

So, Question Everything isn’t an exciting showcase of the next generation of Australian comedians after all. It’s a show where they book whoever doesn’t live in an area riddled with COVID. Well, that is awkward. And so very telling.

Maybe the Question Everything team should have thrown their hands in the air and admitted defeat like Tomorrow Tonight? If conditions are too hard to make a decent show, don’t make the show. Not that Tomorrow Tonight is a decent show. But that’s another story…

Everything is Questions

We’re only two weeks in and it’s rapidly becoming clear that despite being titled Question Everything, nobody at the ABC got around to questioning why this show needed to be made. Hands up who thought the comedy panel show format needs explainers about Taliban social media propaganda? It’s that kind of thinking that makes all those jokes about the ABC having no viewers under 60 so timeless.

This week it somehow became even more obvious that this was intended to be Gruen News, only instead of getting in a panel of “news experts” – presumably the kind of humourless fucks who populate Insiders – they’d get in a bunch of up and coming comics. Because if there’s anyone who not only watches a lot of news but thinks seriously about the ramifications of what they’re seeing, it’s stand up comedians.

And the whiplash intensified across the episode. We went from boring news explainers to random semi-related gags to Wil Anderson dropping some more dad joke gear and then looking pissed off when comedian Fady Kassab did one better with his “those guys who threw ink on that cop should go in the pen” gag. It wasn’t a good joke, but it was a good Wil Anderson joke.

(especially as it made the next few minutes some of the most painfully awkward viewing the ABC’s served up since those ads promoting Everything’s Gonna Be Okay a week before it was axed in the US. Don’t step on Anderson’s turf!)

The panelists doing better at the host’s job than the host pretty much sums up this show as a whole… or it would if this show had a whole to sum up because it is a mess. The Gruen News / Insiders / The Drum / 40% of all ABC product format is rigid – here’s an issue, now comment on it – and the comedians they’re getting in are too inexperienced or disinterested or focused on being funny to provide any added value to the issues being discussed. Oh no, this panel show is no longer my best source of news on anti-lockdown protesters!

Meanwhile, the comedians are easily the best part of the show and the only thing making it remotely worth watching because both Anderson and pointless co-host Jan Fran are just doing the same old same old. Having Fran suddenly hosting a segment that made us think we’d tuned into The Feed that ended with “Afghans are risking life and limb to escape this regime – do you really want to be complicit with their Talabranding?” was a stark reminder that Hungry Beast wasn’t really very good and it finished a decade ago.

As for the best example of just how misguided the whole thing is, that was – no, not the part where someone said “you’re playing a game of race card snap”, because that came uncomfortably close (for ABC management) to saying the quiet part out loud – the segment where the panel briefly became Woman’s Day editors, coming up with funny captions for celebrity photos… followed by a serious explanation of how libel law works.

And we haven’t even got to the part where it was suddenly revealed that we were watching a game show. “Final round”? There were rounds? Is this show secretly a drinking game? Because if so maybe the people who put it together should lay off the sauce for a while.

Everything’s Gonna Be…Axed

It was announced this week that Josh Thomas’ Everything’s Gonna Be Okay has been axed, with Thomas quoted on Variety as saying:

Freeform has been a dream to work with — so cool and open and sincerely progressive…I’m so grateful we got a platform to make this show. I love them and they are obsessed with me, I hope we get another chance to work together.

…which may well be the funniest thing Josh Thomas has ever written.

It’s certainly the most delusional. Who the hell makes it sound like the axing of their show is a good thing? And who the hell thinks anyone would believe a statement like that anyway? If Thomas had wanted to end Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, he’d be quoted as saying that he felt the series had reached its natural end, or whatever. But no, he’s talking up how everyone down at the company who’s just axed his show loves him. Of course, they love you, Josh. Of course, they do.

Having said that, the axing of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is undoubtedly a good thing. The show wasn’t funny, contained almost nothing in the way of plot or interesting characters, and generally struggled to hold the audience’s attention for more than about 10 seconds. It’s baffling how it made it past the pilot stage let alone to 20 episodes.

Even the one thing it had going for it – the positive portrayal of neurodivergent and sexually diverse characters – barely seems to have been worthwhile. Sure, it was a breakthrough in television, but it’s also the kind of breakthrough that will be forgotten the second a far, far better program comes along which positively portrays neurodivergent and sexually diverse characters in a way that’s entertaining and funny.

As for Josh Thomas, he’ll no doubt keep ploughing on. Indeed, he is probably already hard at work on an entirely new concept for a show in which he will play a dull gay man dealing with various issues who somehow manages to get hot boyfriends despite being a pointless whinger who somehow doesn’t need to work in order to maintain his quirky and affluent lifestyle. This new series, which will be vastly different to Please Like Me and Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, will be talked up as ground-breaking on cool American websites until someone checks how it’s rating and…bye-bye! And so the cycle will begin again, with no one having learnt a damn thing.

Everything is Awesome

Having just watched Question Everything, we have a question: what the hell did we just watch?

Half the show was pretty much what we’d been dreading from the team of Wil Anderson and CJZ – Gruen News, the show nobody was asking for. The Gruen approach is fine* (*not fine) for advertising, but is it us or has just about every ABC news comedy program this year (and last year, and so on) had the exact same smug smartarse tone that tries to convey “comedy” without actually providing anything audiences will find funny?

We can’t quite blame it on Sydney either, as the Melbourne-produced The Weekly has it going on as well. You know, “ha ha, breakfast television has sharp tonal shifts! Alan Jones says crazy things!” These aren’t jokes: they’re barely observations. It’s just sneering at other people’s choice of viewing, like we’re somehow better because we’ve foolishly chosen to watch a show that features archive footage of Margaret Thatcher talking about… the environment?!? Next you’ll be shocking us with the news that Hitler was a vegetarian and liked dogs! Mind blown! (“Mindblowers – coming to your ABC 2022″)

With The Weekly and Win the Week and now Question Everything it’s increasingly difficult to figure out why the ABC doesn’t just create one year-long show where some smug, self-satisfied guy with big hair and a slightly nasally voice introduces a bunch of news clips taken from other networks, lets them play out, then makes a couple of obvious observations and dad jokes before moving on to the next identical segment.

Obviously they shouldn’t do that because it would be shit. You know what else was shit? Question Everything. And not just in the previously stated “the ABC needs to give up on trying to make comedy news happen because they suck at it” fashion, because as a whole this show was a train wreck. If it had just been Gruen News it would have been pointless but competent – instead, they decided to add in a panel of fresh comedy faces and let them sink before our very eyes.

The good news is, they were funny. The bad news is, they would have been even funnier on just about any other show up to and including a revival of Blankety Blanks. Half the time it felt like they weren’t even trying to fit into the format: they had a couple of decent lines they’d been getting laughs with down the open mic nights and they were going to get them in no matter what. Which was totally the right approach, because at least when they were funny for a brief moment this show had a reason to exist.

Here’s a question: instead of yet another “news comedy” show, why not just make a new comedy showcase for up-and-coming talent to do five minutes of their best gear? The ABC has done it dozens of times over the years and sure, they never rate well, but neither does anything else these days. The new talent here wasn’t amazingly talented – while the comedy highlight was the Bob Franklin / Hughsey mash-up guy, all three had their moments – but at least they weren’t Jan Fran trying to eat two burgers at once then “forgetting” to keep score.

Usually we’d be asking what exactly this show wants to be. It was sold on the promise of fact-checking the news – Gruen News, like we said – but what we actually got was just a bunch of segments about old news stories (seriously, the “this guy isn’t really a flight attendant” piece was weeks old) and a lengthy bit on the mice plague earlier this year which – we think? – was supposed to be pointing out that the predictions of it reaching Sydney by August never happened but then it turned out even people in the past were saying it was never going to happen, which is what the producer should have said to whoever pitched this idea.

Maybe this was a pilot they made a while ago, but even the segment where they traced the origins of the story about the cornavirus outbreak in Melbourne back to a rooting security guard – only not! – was old news, which by definition is not news. And the panel were just there, saying things; funny or not, you could replace them with viewers letters and get pretty much the same result.

Question Everything sounds like a LNP instruction to whoever audits the ABC’s budget. If you’re going to be informative about how our news is created, do that! If you’re going to be funny about the news, do that! If you’re going to try and do both and also be a new talent showcase and also spend 10% of each episode showing the panel laughing at their own jokes just to make sure we know this shit is funny, retire now.

As for who exactly should be doing the retiring, we know absolutely nothing about the inner workings of the ABC but if we had to guess, we’d say there’s at least one person high up in the commissioning side of things who thinks the ABC’s duty is to make “funny but informative” news programs so that the young people have somewhere to get their information that isn’t (ugh) social media. They’re wrong.

Nobody wants this show. It never works, is barely entertaining, and mostly serves as a reminder that the ABC doesn’t give a fuck about their audience and is governed entirely on the whims of know-nothing chumps who demand comedy be “educational”.

To be fair, with Question Everything they got the educational part right; we learnt we really need to find something better to do with our Wednesday nights.

Vale Mad as Hell s12

Making topical comedy isn’t easy. Forget the time constraints: we’re talking about having to make comedy out of the daily news. In Australia no less, land of no amusing news in good times or bad. And at the moment, things are pretty, pretty, pretty bad.

Was 2021 the year that much of Australia woke up to the fact that the LNP approach of slotting in bullies, thugs, accused rapists and corrupt do-nothings as political leaders maybe isn’t the right way to go when faced with a global pandemic requiring governments to do more than pork-barrel marginal seats and hand out cash to their mates / secret lovers? Fucked if we know, we just review comedy. What we do know is, there’s not a lot of laughs in that scenario.

Sure, times are just fine if you’re making the usual smug garbage the ABC tries to pass off as comedy. You know what we mean – topical comedy where the core assumption is that so long as house prices continue to soar and tradies can find work on building sites, everything else (for people with secure work and at least one house) will take care of itself. Excited about Question Everything? We sure are!

Considering it’s now just Charlie Pickering behind a desk talking about other networks’ news footage, we have no idea why we’re not getting a second season of The Weekly this year. We’d like to think it’s because someone in head office finally realised that when things are actually going bad out in the community, the show that gave us Corona Cops isn’t just missing the mark, it’s insulting what little remains of its audience.

That kind of smug unfunny “centrist” comedy is basically the equivalent of being gaslit by your local Murdoch rag, a pissweak attempt to pass off sneering assumptions from 2006 as something somehow related to the world everyone else is living in today. At least with The Cheap Seats they’re mostly making fun of wacky news clips from overseas, not re-voicing actual local news footage to make cheap jokes about *checks notes* *voice drops a couple octaves* a deadly pandemic.

So yeah, times are tough. And Mad as Hell stepped up. It didn’t escape our notice that the final episode was, for large chunks of the run time, basically just a laundry list of all the things the federal government has completely screwed up. Which is absolutely what a topical comedy show at this point in time should be doing, because what bigger news could there be than the revelation that during a national crisis our federal leaders are… well, let’s keep it at “not up to the task”?

Unlike this post, Mad as Hell wasn’t a grim litany of failure shrieked out by a demented lunatic either. Jokes! Funny bits! The cast all swapped characters! A musical number! These were all good things.

But really, the show’s big achievement this year was that it managed to be funny while making fun of a national situation that’s increasingly just a bit shit. It wasn’t the much-vaunted by idiots “escape from the grim headlines” kind of show; rather it was a crack team of comedy professionals seeing the world clearly and finding the humour in it no matter how deeply it was buried. Renew Mad as Hell for 2022 now, you cowards!

Also they made fun of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, and that show is rubbish.

Rosehaven V: The Return of Michael Myers

The funniest thing to ever happen in, on, or around Rosehaven was the recent news that this current season would be the last because writer-creators-stars Ceclia Pacquola and Luke McGregor had “run out of stories”. To which a nation replied as one: Rosehaven has stories?

Lest you think this is our usual baseless snark, let’s look at the stories they decided they did have to tell: in the first episode back, Luke wants to buy a new car, Celia has to rescue her ex boyfriend from doing too many odd jobs for the neighbourhood watch, and the comedy highlight is riding around on a ride-on mower. It’s not exactly Melvin, Son of Alvin.

Maybe we are being a bit snarky; even a low stakes story is still a story. But Rosehaven has set the bar so low as far as narrative goes that the idea of somehow ever running out of stories about a pair of friends at a real estate agency in a tiny Tasmanian town seems bonkers. If you could drag this out to five seasons – of eight episodes each, making this easily the longest running Aussie sitcom this century if you pretend Pizza / Fat Pizza never happened and why wouldn’t you – then why not ten? A hundred?

It seems slightly more likely that Pacquola and McGregor have come to the same point the rest of us did a few seasons ago: they’ve had a gutful. You can’t blame them for being slow on the uptake, what with the show actually making them money while costing us our time and will to live. Remember when they were just two of the supporting cast from Utopia? Now if you believe the press they’re Australia’s greatest comedy team since Dad’n Dave.

As for the show itself, it’s *heavy sigh* fiiiiiiiiine. Nice scenery, soothing mood, low stakes stories… did we mention nice scenery? Nothing’s all that funny, but it’s not trying to be; at least Anthony Morgan is back later in the series. Where’s his spin off?

Obviously McGregor and Pacquola are the big draws here and rightly so: they have a fun, easy chemistry, they’re a rock solid double act and seeing them piss-fart around is… if not laugh out loud funny, then at least passably entertaining. If anything, their work here is slightly frustrating, as it feels a little like watching a couple of talented professionals dicking around on the easy setting. They could (and elsewhere, have) make something a lot funnier than this.

But being funny isn’t really the point. You couldn’t even call it a dramedy – it’d have to contain drama for that. Rosehaven is basically a fantasy travel show, a half hour journey to a sleepy country village where you can spend time with some nice people who seem to be enjoying themselves.

Or if you’re at Casa del Tumbleweeds, you can turn the television off and see pretty much the exact opposite reflected in the screen.