Archive | June 2017

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 9

So here we are again, at the penultimate episode of a Love Child season.

This season has been a rollercoaster, the acting has been superb and the writing has been mostly solid but also undermined with continuity errors. The job of the penultimate episode is to build up the drama and tension to lead into the finale, and this episode did a great job in doing so.

I’m relieved that the baby switching story arc is in the spotlight again as I mentioned in previous reviews that I thought it had been abandoned. I felt that Laura’s autopsy report was the most realistic path to lead Joan to realising that she was given the wrong baby. The path from the autopsy report, to the rubella tests, to the missing file, was perfectly executed.

The B story of Elena and Ed trying to get married was also well done. I wasn’t sure if Ed was going to return and I’m glad he did. I didn’t buy for a second that Ed giving Elena’s brother the money was going to solve everything and that they’d get their happily ever after. I appreciated that the writers threw in a red herring of Ed making the decision for him and Elena to live in Queensland, to throw the viewers off the real obstacle of Elena’s brother coming after him. I was actually screaming “No! Why?” when Ed was ambushed by Elena’s brother and his mates, but I’m looking forward to seeing the pay off in the finale.

On smaller notes, the writers’ decision to have Debbie go off the rails was brutal but well done. The subtle reveals of the extent of her self-harm to the climax of Matron finding her in the shower, was perfectly executed but also hard to watch. It provided some solid character development, but I’m unsure how I feel about the fact that her issues have been left unresolved, hopefully they will be in the finale. I did enjoy the brawl between Rita and Debbie as I didn’t see it coming, damn Rita can fight!

I also appreciated the reveal that Ed knew Simon ran him over, however I felt it was an anti-climatic resolution. Perhaps this was to provide room for the drama for Ed and Elena’s wedding and the baby switching story arc. I also felt that Zoe Ventoura’s appearance as Andrew’s war colleague really didn’t add anything to the episode. I also felt that Andrew, Joan and Martha make a great team at the hospital and I hope in future seasons (if there are any) that this dynamic is explored further.

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 4 (Middle East Side Story)

This episode was a definite improvement to last week.

I believe this episode had the most character development in the series to date. The A story focused on Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic, and Jack and Mariam’s friendship. With the B story the focus is on Layla’s campaign for school captain, and the unlikely and until now unexplored dynamic between her and Olivia.

I stated in a previous review that I hoped to see “Middle East Side Story” in a further episode and thankfully it was. What I enjoyed the most was that the musical was the foundation for exploring Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic, as well as Jack and Mariam’s friendship, as these dynamics have never fully been explored before.

I enjoyed the exploration of Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic as they are usually in the background of the series, with the kids’ antics being front and centre. Many of the show’s married viewers, especially women, would have related to Mariam’s frustration at no-one helping out with the housework while she was doing something for herself. I appreciated that Mariam called Fou Fou out on his behaviour and in turn, Fou Fou trying to change his way of thinking, not because I’m a woman but because it shows a marriage between equals. Usually in sitcoms the husbands are portrayed as idiotic and the wives in charge and constantly annoyed by them. While there is nothing wrong with this on its own I feel it’s been overdone, so it’s nice to see that it’s not the case here.

Meanwhile Jack and Mariam’s friendship was briefly explored last season with the invention of the Anzaclava, so it was nice to see both their friendship and the Anzaclava make a reappearance in the same episode. I appreciated that the kiss on stage between them was awkward to prove that there was no sexual tension between them, which again is something that is overdone in other shows, and it lead to my favourite moment of the episode. I found Fou Fou and Olivia’s kiss hilarious, especially Fou Fou declaring that he “too can play that game” and just going for it.

I found that the B story was solid, especially as Layla is another character that hasn’t been fully explored. I appreciate that the school scenes provides another location for the series to explore, especially since the series’ focus has generally been on the “war” between Olivia and Fou Fou at their homes. While Layla is clearly a strong woman, it’s nice to see another side to her, especially a vulnerable one. While she’s popular it’s obvious that she feels she doesn’t fit in, and I loved how she spoke up and did something about it. Layla’s plausible solution to her problem by running for school captain is refreshingly realistic and a great contrast to Toufic’s over-the-top business ideas.

Layla’s campaign strategies and promises were typical of her character and while I don’t condone Olivia’s behaviour, it was nice to see her go after someone else for a change. How Olivia is still President of the P&C when Madison is no longer at school is beyond me, but considering the pay off, I’ll give it a pass. I found the reveal of Olivia sabotaging Layla by hiding the ballot box in her car to be predictable, but I hope that the writers show Layla in action as school captain in later episodes.

Toufic, Jahesh, Elias and Madison were in the background in this episode, which I personally didn’t mind as they are usually front and centre. I also found it a little ironic that Toufic’s latest business venture wasn’t front and centre, as it was his most successful one to date. I found that the requests that Wogalong were receiving added subtle but necessary humorous moments throughout the episode, and the pay off with the forbidden speaker sales and the Anzaclavas being sold was well done.

 

Stray Observations:

  • Toufic’s invention for this episode–The Wogalong business.
  • Best one liners–“Lebanese Meryl Streep!” (Fou Fou) and “Beirut Barbie” (Olivia).
  • Apparently Layla constantly refers to her classmates as posh zombies.
  • Typical Jack overdoing the stage make-up.

 

 

 

 

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 8

This week I’m quite happy to eat my words from last week’s review–this episode was incredible.

Usually I write my reviews by plot, but for the second time, due to the intensity of the episode, I’m going to write this review by character.

Joan and Lawrence–Not a fan of their romance due to the speed at which it’s moving and the fact that it’s really undermining a season-and-a-half by pushing Jim out of the viewer’s minds completely. I did enjoy Lawrence slowly being revealed as a bit controlling of Joan and trying to decide what’s best for her, especially with Andrew calling him out on it. I’m relieved that Joan didn’t accept Lawrence’s proposal, not only because I’m not a fan of the plot but also because I believe it undermines her independent and progressive character. I did appreciate the continuity of Lawrence’s child with his former wife by revealing that he has a son, something I mentioned in my previous review.

Andrew and Jennifer–This subplot worried me a little at first, I was worried that Andrew would turn out to be the father of Jennifer’s (his best friend’s wife) baby, because how many times have we seen that cliche unfold. Thankfully I was wrong and Andrew’s feelings towards Jennifer were survivor guilt rather than unrequited love, which again would be another cliche. Jennifer naming Andrew as her baby’s godfather was a nice ending to this subplot.

Debbie, Alan, Elena and Rita–I didn’t see the twist of Alan and his wife (forgive me I can’t remember her name) adopting Debbie’s baby coming. It’s a slightly disturbing twist, but a genius one. Sophia Forrest’s acting was absolutely incredible and she has a hell of a range going from heartbroken, to drunk and heartbroken, to scared and to heartbroken again, in the space of a few scenes. The concern and love for Debbie from Elena and Rita was perfectly portrayed, and as much as my heart broke for Debbie, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of her life will bring.

Viv and Matron–I knew last week that Viv would be the character leaving, the people who do the promos make these kind of things too obvious. That being said, considering that the three girls are too new to leave, Matron and Joan are too crucial to the show to go without, Martha and Simon are settled in their lives, and most of the original cast have already departed, it only made sense if Viv left. It didn’t surprise me that Viv left to travel the world as it’s true to her character, a character that I feel lost her spark this season. I’m happy that like with Patty, the writers at least gave Viv a proper departure, especially as she was the first character the viewers ever saw. I enjoyed the subtle references to Matron’s sadness over Viv leaving, again as it’s true to her character and their relationship. I especially loved the moment Viv quit, as the sheets she was holding was a great metaphorical torch hand over to Rita, who was clearly being set up to be her replacement. With Viv now gone, Martha is the only remaining original Stanton House girl, something Martha points out herself. Martha pointing out that she’s the only remaining original Stanton House girl is probably the only closure that the viewers will get on Annie’s and Shirley’s departure.

Martha and Simon–Barely used in this episode, but considering that the previous two episodes were about them and as much as I love them, it’s only fair.

 

Overall this episode was incredible and a huge improvement on last week. I’m looking forward to reviewing the remaining two episodes of the season, especially as it finally re-addresses the baby switching story arc, which I thought had been completely abandoned. I can’t wait to find out how this season will wrap up and whether they’ll be another one.

 

 

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 3 (The Fundertakers)

The reason why my review is a little late is because I found it difficult to decide how I felt about the episode.

Rather than evenly splitting the A and B stories, this episode was really 95 percent A story and 5 percent B story. Unfortunately this week, I didn’t enjoy the A story for two reasons–the story itself was too morbid and the attempt at dark comedy fell a little flat.

While the set-up of Uncle Farid dying wasn’t morbid, it was the rest of the story line, specifically the loss and partial recovery of his body that made it morbid. Toufic’s impulsive decision to set up the Fundertaker business was a huge relief as it added necessary comedic moments.

What I really appreciated about the Fundertaker jokes was that they were certainly original and also provided some character development with Toufic, specifically subtle nods at his hidden intelligence. Toufic, with the assistance of Jahesh and Mustafa, established a business and quickly transformed a coffin in the space of a few hours, not to mention Toufic seemed to know the differences between coughs–hardly the actions of a dumb or idiotic person. While I found no-one else but Mariam picking up on Fou Fou taking Farid’s place in the coffin unrealistic, I did enjoy seeing the normally straight man Fou Fou going along with a out-there scheme, especially one thought of by Jack.

I actually enjoyed the B story of Layla learning how to drive more than the A story. I specifically loved Layla and Fou Fou in the car together as both learner drivers and their supervisor/parents would be able to appreciate both sides of the story. However my favourite moments in this story by far were the scenes with Layla and Madison, showing them bond as friends which has rarely been touched on, and not to mention the burnout scene, which enabled the delivery of a superb one liner. The fact that the burnout scene also enabled the A and B stories to merge was the perfect little cherry on top.

Overall this episode, in comparison to the previous two, fell flat, but only because of the A story. While I appreciated the writers’ expanding the show by going down the dark comedy route, I think the problem was the fact that there were simultaneous dark and slapstick comedic moments being thrown at the viewer and it was a little overwhelming. The balance between the two wasn’t really pulled off, that being said, I don’t think the writers’ should give up on their expansion attempts altogether.

 

Stray Observations:

  • Toufic’s invention for this episode–The Fundertaker business.
  • Best one liners (it’s a tie and the ladies have it):
    • “I’ve seen bigger skid marks on my brother’s undies!” (Layla)
    • “I’m not making you do this but I am insisting.” (Mariam)
  • One liner honourable mention–“That could be anyone’s coffin.” (Olivia)

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 16 (O-S–Oscar P-A–Party)

This is the first episode in quite some time to peel back another layer of the metaphorical onion that I’ve written about in my previous reviews.

This is the first episode to explore how the DiMeos interact with other special needs families and as a viewer, we are given a glimpse into the lives of special needs families and their social lives. We are given glimpses on almost all fronts through Maya (the mums), Jimmy (the dads), and JJ and Kenneth (the kids).

While I enjoyed seeing Maya interact with the special needs mums, I found her plot of other mums competing with each other and Maya feeling inferior to be cliche. I did enjoy Dylan taking charge and calling the meeting that led to them resolving their differences, as well as Maya and Becca’s accurately described “unsatisfying food fight.” I did enjoy Becca’s speech on motherhood, a speech that I hope every mother watching paid attention to.

I felt the opposite about Jimmy’s interaction with the special needs dads. Speechless mostly focuses on Maya and JJ’s relationship and Maya as a mother, so it was a welcome change to see the focus on Jimmy and where he fits in, in the special needs social circle. As Jimmy is the more passive one between him and Maya, it was nice to see him have some power for once. However, the power didn’t last long as Jimmy is a good guy as are the other dads, which I appreciated—they’re not pushovers or doormats, just loving husbands and fathers doing their best, ultimately just like their wives are doing their best as well, with the difference being the execution in each parent’s methods.

I thoroughly enjoyed JJ and Kenneth’s interactions with both each other and the special needs kids. I personally found Kenneth to be quite sweet in this episode as he genuinely wanted to level the playing field, even if he did have ulterior motives. I loved the diversity of the kids and their disabilities as it was realistic, and my favourite scene of the episode was definitely the “equal opportunity death match” words that I never thought I would hear in the same sentence.

On smaller notes, it was a shame that Dylan and Ray weren’t used more in the episode, that being said it didn’t greatly suffer either, especially as the Ray and Zelda subplot was weak and didn’t add to the episode. I also enjoyed seeing Ray put his talent of finding Maya’s keys to use in his unique way, which begs the question of how he discovered and developed it over the years.

Overall this episode had a lot of heart and the perfect amount of humour, however it wasn’t the best episode I’ve ever seen. It was good but not great.

 

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 7

I’ve said in my reviews throughout the season, in particular the first three episodes, that the writing has been off kilter, and it was in this episode however in a different way. Rather than the writing of the plots being off kilter, in this episode it was the writing of the characters.

Almost every character strayed from their true selves in this episode and while it would normally be interesting, I felt it was off putting due to the writing problems that have been present and ignored throughout the season.

While I enjoyed the introduction of Joan’s former fiance, Dr Lawrence Faber (Ronan Keating), I felt that the rapid development of their relationship from tense exes to lovers was unrealistic and very-unlike Joan. While Joan has made impulsive decisions in the past, especially with Jim (who has pretty much been forgotten now), considering how much she has grown as a character, not to mention the fact that she was in a love triangle in the previous two seasons, I felt that her decisions with Lawrence were off putting and cliche.

Despite the general continuity problems with the show this season, the continuity with Lawrence was pretty good–Joan’s abortion and Lawrence’s marriage were addressed, the child he had with his former wife was not. I’m glad that Lawrence didn’t leave purely because the start and progression of this plot felt rushed, however I hope the love triangle aspect of this plot isn’t given a lot of attention as it’s starting to get old.

There were two strong subplots in this episode–Rita’s life post-birth and Martha and Simon being blackmailed. As Rita was only starting to be truly developed in the previous episode, it was nice to see the focus on her again, especially now that she has given birth. It was nice to see her as a nun, but it was better to see her end up becoming a trainee nurse. While I found the outcome predictable, I did appreciate this development in her and Viv going full circle in helping her get a job through Matron.

I felt that the subplot of Martha and Simon being blackmailed added a nice mysterious touch to the episode. I felt it was a natural progression in this story arc as it has mostly been too easy for the two of them to get away with the hit-and-run. It was obvious during the fire alarm scene that it was an inside job. It was too easy to be Ed and Matron, that being said it surprised me that Debbie turned out to be the blackmailer, especially considering her progression over the season. Although the blackmail was resolved, I feel that this story arc isn’t finished yet.

On smaller notes, I was disappointed that Lawrence didn’t make any discoveries in Laura’s file however I appreciated that her death was touched upon, as it hadn’t been addressed in the last few episodes. I was also disappointed that Kate and Viv’s feelings were barely addressed and their potential relationship was pretty much thrown away.

Overall this episode felt out of place in comparison to the previous two episodes, I hope the remaining episodes improve and get back on track.

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 2 (Go Back to Where You Came From)

I think this episode was one of the series’ strongest.

I believe this due to the simple but strong writing–there are clear A and B stories, solid interactions between the main characters, and a minor mystery.

The A story of Fou Fou and Olivia joining forces to get Joey Chau out of their homes was well done. Despite their differences, it is clear that Fou Fou and Olivia are alike even though they don’t want to admit it, that being said I’m glad that the show doesn’t constantly try to make them join forces. I feel it’s a cliche and too sitcom-y to constantly make enemies become friends, so I’m glad these bonding moments are few and far between. I did enjoy seeing Fou Fou, Olivia and Jack work together and I think they make a great trio when they set their minds to something. I did enjoy the twist of Joey being arrested for smuggling a snake into the country.

The B story of Layla filming a documentary on racism wasn’t strong on its own, however it made up for it by being constantly present in the background of the episode, including in the background of the A story. The B story also provided the premise of the episode, which was an interesting choice. Showing that Olivia, Fou Fou and Joey make racial stereotypes was good character development, and also addresses some of the different aspects of racism without being preachy. I liked the mystery of the graffiti, especially as it was too easy to be Joey, and I appreciated the twist of Layla ultimately being the one behind it. However as a viewer, I would have liked to have been told or shown how Fou Fou figured it out.

On smaller notes, I did enjoy the scenes between Olivia, Jack, Mariam and Ronald, although the outcome was predictable. I’m hoping that Mariam being in the star role of “Middle East Side Story” will be addressed in future episodes. I also appreciated the continuity of the issues between Elias and Madison, which still haven’t been addressed, something to look forward to in future episodes.

On another note, I feel that the writers’ are starting to branch out with supporting characters to provide mostly unrealistic but a needed dose of outside humour. Last episode it was Samantha, this episode it was the two police officers who took reports on the graffiti and arrested Joey. While Samantha didn’t so much make any jokes, rather her presence provided the opportunity for jokes, the police officers made jokes themselves. I especially loved the male officer (Dave Eastgate) actually admitting he never wanted to be a cop, and the female officer being unable to hide how impressed she was by Joey’s muscles. I hope that the appearances of humorous supporting characters continues throughout the season.

Stray Observations:

  • Toufic’s inventions for this episode–The Toncho (poncho within a tie) and pants that play bass music.
  • Doctor Doctor alumni, Dave Eastgate (Joey/Police Officer) and Charles Wu (Ken/Joey Chau).
  • The Footy Show sort-of crossover was a nice addition, especially as it provided another location to be used for the episode.
  • The nickname, ‘Double F’ for Fou Fou.
  • Best one liner–“Idiots will never be caught short again!” (Toufic)