Archive | July 2017

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2 Finale (Leb Wedding)

The job of a season finale is to tie up the season’s loose ends and set up story arcs for the next season, if there is one. I felt that this finale really only tied up the loose ends and set up one story arc for another season.

You could argue that this season finale managed to pull off a season and a series finale simultaneously–on one hand you can say that all of the loose ends are tied up, and that Elias and Madison finally declaring their love for each other and getting engaged, is a great ending for the show. Whereas on the other hand you can say that while one potential story arc isn’t enough, the fact that the arc would be Elias and Madison’s engagement is big enough in itself to carry a season, and that the tying up of this season’s loose ends provides season three with the opportunity to start fresh.

While I loved the double wedding, especially Fou Fou and Olivia constantly trying to out-do each other with their respective weddings, as well as the drunk shenanigans at both the hens and bucks parties (more so the latter), there were too many cliches being thrown at the viewer. From Elias and Madison being stuck together for a few hours, to Layla recording proof of Yasmine’s con only for her phone to be destroyed, to Yasmine asking Elias to have nothing to do with Madison, to Layla being locked in a room to prevent her from revealing the truth. However I’ll give them a small pass as they helped move the episode forward.

Despite the excessive cliches, there was some solid character development, especially in regards to Jack. In Season 1’s finale, Jack finally stood up to Olivia which shocked her, this time he comforts Madison when she’s having doubts and reveals his own doubts about his marriage in the process. I enjoyed these moments as it shows Jack as a deep character and a loving father, a great contrast to the over-the-top, awkward, doormat Jack the viewers usually see. I also enjoyed the reveal that despite their conservative nature, Jack and Olivia had to marry due to Olivia’s pregnancy.

Overall this season finale was solid, in regards to season two as a whole I felt it was a huge improvement from the first. The first season of any show is all about establishing its characters, premise and finding itself, from the second season onward, a show should know its identify and grow accordingly. I felt that season two managed to do this successfully with improved writing, easing off the stereotypes (a little), and solid character development.

I hope there’s another season for me to review next year.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-Toufic’s invention for the episode–The Bride Glide.

-Apparently Jack and Olivia have Malcolm & Lucy Turnbull on their rolodex.

-Layla’s perception was on point in regards to Madison and Kanye’s relationship.

-Best one liners:

  • “You’re the nicest casual racist father-in-law a guy could ask for!” (Kanye to Jack)
  • “Yas I am” (Layla)
  • “Oh no all naughty!” (Anthea)

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 21 (P-R–Prom)

Both the DiMeo parents and the DiMeo kids had a fun night in this episode.

The A story revolves around JJ and Ray’s school prom, with Dylan also attending as the “bartender”. While usually JJ is the centre of attention, story wise, this episode Ray was front and centre, which was refreshing. Uniquely this episode peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion, however this time it was a layer that didn’t directly affect JJ. Instead this layer focused on how a family member would deal with people’s ignorant perceptions of disability, which could possibly affect JJ at one time or another.

I personally enjoyed seeing Ray having to face a moral dilemma of this kind, especially as he is usually lecturing others on how to behave morally. It also shows that despite his intelligence that is usually beyond his years, at the end of the day, he is still a young and hormonal boy. The outcome of his situation with Riley was always obvious, his morality was always going to win over his desires, even if JJ gave his approval.

Meanwhile, JJ as usual is the unintentional centre of attention at his prom due to his disability, however I enjoyed how he managed to flip this on its head by having a fun, albeit brief non-prom with three miscasts. I stated brief as unfortunately the non-prom didn’t last long. I enjoyed the scenes between the four of them, especially due to the fact that they’re from different cliques and I would have liked to have seen more of them. I found that JJ ultimately going full circle, embracing the prom and drawing attention to himself, to relieve Caroline of her own self-consciousness, was true to his character and the right outcome.

Maya and Jimmy’s subplot of spending their night away from their kids as an opportunity to work on their marriage and air out old arguments, was hilarious. What made it even better was Kenneth acting as the judge/mediator on all of these arguments, eventually leading to him questioning how he fits into the family. I found Jimmy and Maya’s proposal to include Kenneth as part of the family slightly corny but also true to their character as their seemingly affectionate proposal, was really an excuse to get rid of some of their old stuff.

The writing was superb, especially in the cold open with Kenneth giving a “DiMeo sensitivity speech” to diners in a restaurant, which was a nice full circle moment in his relationship with them and a nice boomerang to how they met. The outcome of this moment was predictable but perfectly executed. I also found that the cold open was perfect foreshadowing of the A plot involving Ray and Riley.

On smaller notes I enjoyed Jimmy’s “party mode” on JJ’s wheelchair again displaying his talents for wheelchair costuming, and Dylan perfectly pulling off being a bartender, even going as far as studying “Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail'”.

Overall this was a fun episode, focusing more on humour than drama, and with Maya, Jimmy and Kenneth, and the kids having their own plots, rather than mixing them up in pairs, which was a refreshing change.

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 20 (R-U-N–Runaway)

This episode was the second part of Speechless‘ first two-part story arc, an arc which was pulled off beautifully.

I’ve been talking about each aspect of JJ’s life as a special needs child being revealed to the viewer layer-by-layer, like a metaphorical onion being peeled. I believe the reason why a two-part story arc has only been explored now is due to the fact that each layer has explored JJ’s life in the past and present. This was the first time that JJ’s future was discussed in great detail, and what it would mean for each family member.

The A story of JJ running away both to Kenneth’s and later with Maya, was the most brilliant A story I’ve ever seen. I found the scenes between JJ and Kenneth in the cold open, and every family member yelling for JJ only to be yelling at themselves, provided necessary comedic moments for what turned out to be quite a heavy and profound episode. I thought Maya helping JJ run away by packing for him and taking him to the casino, entirely missing the point and finally getting it when JJ points it out to her, was heartbreaking and hard to watch. That being said the payoff was beautiful.

While we’ve seen JJ interact with other special needs kids before, this was the first time we see him interact with another person with CP, or as Maya affectionately dubs him, a “wheelchair badarse”. I found their interactions both sweet and funny, but I also enjoyed hearing Lee (Zach Anner) provide JJ with much needed advice on how to live independently without being preachy, which I predict he will take and put into action in future episodes.

I felt that the B and C stories were blips in comparison to the brilliant A story. While the reveal of Kenneth’s past as a basketballer was amusing and provided some nice character development, what I actually enjoyed about it was the fact that it lead to him and Dylan bonding and interacting, which is something else the viewers haven’t seen. I also felt that the minor C story of Ray and Dylan trying to get Jimmy to have a “heavy talk” and also get what they wanted out of it, didn’t really add to the episode and fell a little flat.

Overall this episode was incredible with lots of heart, hope, reality, and appropriately placed comedic and profound moments.

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 7 (The Girl from Lebanon)

This episode comprised of two great mysteries, which made it a solid penultimate episode and a great springboard for next week’s season finale.

The two mysteries were obvious–What was Olivia’s downfall going to be in her attempt to run in the by-election, and what was Yasmine up to?

The A story of Olivia’s attempt to run in the by-election was like a wildfire. It got off to a great start by her and Fou Fou disputing over their imposed community service, which lead to Fou Fou throwing Olivia out of his car, which lead to her taking the bus, which lead to her inadvertently becoming an anti-racism hero. I liked the writers’ choice to have Olivia’s hatred of germs be misunderstood for taking a stand against racism and how quickly it escalated. Considering that Fou Fou couldn’t take Olivia down in public, taking her down in a private bathroom when her mic happens to be on was the only way it was going to happen. While the ‘mic being on’ element was cliche, considering how everything was going Olivia’s way, this was the only plausible outcome.

While the A story started and ended relatively quickly, the B story involving Yasmine (Danielle Horvat) was more of a slow burn. While it’s obvious that Yasmine is a con artist, the slow build up of her gaining the family’s trust, trying to win over Toufic and later Elias, and later calling an unknown person to confirm that “she’s in” was well paced and pulled off beautifully. The highlight of this plot for me was Layla quickly catching on to her and constantly following her around, especially as we only saw her eyes everywhere, as well as Jahesh giving Toufic advice on playing hard to get. While I expected Elias and Yasmine to be already married when they got off the boat, being engaged was a better outcome as it provides an A story for the finale and creates the much needed obstacle and tension between Elias and Madison.

Overall this episode was solid and I’m looking forward to next week’s season finale.

 

Stray Observations:

-Toufic’s invention for the episode–The Catch n’ Cook/Hot Rod.

-The show has another sort-of crossover with Olivia appearing on the Today show.

-I did enjoy Kanye’s brief appearances, however I would have enjoyed them more if he was subjected to character development.

-Best one liners:

  • “Idiot savant” (Yasmine on Toufic)
  • “Pretend she doesn’t exist and flex” (Jahesh)
  • “Being rich and white has to have some advantages” (Olivia)

 

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 19 (C-H–Cheater!)

So this episode peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion, this time, JJ’s independence–both in the present and in the future, but I’ll get to that.

The A story of JJ “cheating” on tests was interesting but not spectacular. I liked the reveal of JJ’s cheating consisting of Kenneth giving him the answers, as well as the reveal of the teachers letting everything slide with him, however I felt that the outcome was predictable. Yes JJ was acting up and would have doubts, but we all know that he’s intelligent and would therefore pass at the end.

I felt that the B story was solid and I loved that it eventually led to the peeling back of the metaphorical onion. I found Ray’s interest in going to a careers fair to find out what type of careers make the most money, and the way in which he goes about it, hilarious. I felt it was smart on the writers’ part to have Ray sucked into a pyramid scheme as it makes him learn that he’s not always as smart as he thinks he is, especially due to his age and lack of life experience. What I enjoyed the most about this plot was Jimmy stepping up as a father by rightfully scolding Ray for his apparent greed and for revealing to him why he has a job rather than a career. Jimmy’s story, especially emphasising that he needed something “solid now, not great later” is something that a lot of people, especially college graduates such as myself, could really relate to.

While I found Dylan’s inadvertent trend setting by wearing the luggage that Jimmy brings to the careers fair humorous, the joke of it in itself fell flat and didn’t really add anything to the episode.

What I loved the most about this episode was the end, not because I wanted it to end, rather that every element of the B story paid off beautifully in the last few minutes, and peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion. I didn’t see the reveal of Ray wanting to make a lot of money to support JJ, and the fact that both he and Dylan worry about JJ’s future coming. I felt that the whole family discussing the possibilities of JJ’s future was both heartbreaking and realistic. What was equally heartbreaking was the fact that JJ’s joy at proving his independence at school was taken away from him by overhearing his family making assumptions of his future independence.

I loved the writers’ choice to have JJ runaway like a typical kid and the fact that the episode ended on this note unexpectedly turned it into a two-parter, which was a good twist.

Overall this episode was mostly flat but later turned into a great first part of a two-part episode.

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 6 (The Beach)

I recently reviewed an episode of American sitcom, Speechless, where the episode was set in one location and character-by-character stories unfolded and were related to this one location. My verdict on that episode was favourable due to this setting, and I feel the same way about this episode of Here Come the Habibs.

This episode was set mostly at one location–the beach. Both the Habibs and the O’Neills are looking forward to a day out, which is pretty much ruined when they run into each other in the parking lot. I loved the writers’ choice to have Jack and Mariam secretly plan the beach day in an effort to get Fou Fou and Olivia to resolve their differences and how things quickly escalated.

I felt that the tactics between Fou Fou and Olivia to one up each other perfectly suited their characters–who else would think to change the labels on the sunscreen and aioli other than Fou Fou? Who else would be callous enough to ruin Mariam’s food other than Olivia? The climax of the situation leading to Olivia and Fou Fou fighting with a beach safety flag and a fish respectively and getting arrested was inevitable and hilarious, which lead to some great and fleeting courtroom scenes.

I felt that the Kanye-Madison-Elias love triangle wasn’t explored as much as it should be, however I felt that this was a deliberate choice by the writers. Rather than having this explored, they have chosen to set it up to be explored in the remaining episodes. It will be interesting to find out whether Madison will stay with him and more importantly, whether the relationship is part of a visa scam as Layla suggested. The most interesting part about his introduction was the awkward scenes between Kanye, Olivia and Jack. Olivia and Jack have been racist and overly politically correct/awkward respectively to the Habibs, and the fact that they acted in a similar way towards Kanye shows that their behaviour isn’t entirely personal and they are uncomfortable towards other races, which provided interesting and unexpected character development.

I felt that the courtroom scenes broke up the episode perfectly, it was a way for the story to be told and prevented any pacing problems. Having Mustafa act as Fou Fou’s solicitor was a nice twist as you would expect it to be Toufic, however it was nice for him to briefly have the spotlight. I felt that the magistrate’s sentence for Olivia and Fou Fou to complete community service and carpool was the perfect punishment. The punishment was not too dissimilar to punishments that would be dished out by a parent or teacher to misbehaving children, and now that Olivia owns her house, the punishment provides another conflict for them.

Overall this episode was mostly solid and understated due to the simplicity in the premise and setting.

 

Stray Observations:

-Toufic’s invention for the episode–The Sand Bar.

-Officers Kemp and Darley (Dave Eastgate and Genevieve Hegney) return.

-Best one liners:

  • “Raising your eyebrows, that’s racist!” (Mustafa)
  • “Don’t try to calm me down with your delicious cooking!” (Fou Fou)

Love Child–Season 4 Finale

So here we are again…another Love Child finale were the series’ future is uncertain.

For those keeping score on the continuity front, it’s 2 December 1972 and Gough Whitlam has won the Federal election. It’s been three months since Laura passed away, just short of three months old. Other than the amount of time that passed between last season and this season, and the inclusion of International Women’s Day in the fourth episode, the continuity since then has been pretty tight.

As this finale was so intense and jam packed, I will write this review character by character.

Elena and Ed–Last week’s episode left Elena stood up at the altar and Ed being kidnapped by Marco. Thankfully Ed was put on a boat to go to Italy and nothing else, but the question put in the viewers’ minds was whether they would get their happily ever after. After a hilarious and haphazard rescue by Debbie and Simon, Ed made it on time for the birth and for a quick bedside wedding. I didn’t expect them to name their baby after Simon, especially due to their circumstances, however I loved that rather than dwell on it, they turned the incident into a positive. While I found Marco’s forgiveness a little too neat, I feel it was the best ending as realistically, Elena and Ed are married and the baby has been born, it’s done and what can he really do? Overall I loved that they lived happily ever after as they deserved it.

Debbie–I loved what the writers did with Debbie in this episode. She spends the first half rescuing Ed to ensure Elena’s happiness and once that’s done, she’s off to finish her final exam. She has a purpose and once it’s fulfilled, she’s able to develop further as a character. It didn’t surprise me one bit that Debbie was able to think so quickly on her feet and that she got the job done, not to mention the reveal that she only brought Simon with her to blackmail him into helping her. With all of these traits and her confidence during the exam, I think she has a bright future ahead of her.

Joan, Greta, and Greta’s husband–The biggest story of all was Joan trying to prove the baby switching and get her daughter back. The last episode left the viewers with Joan figuring out that Greta had her baby and in this episode she confronts her. The first scene between Joan and Greta was absolutely heartbreaking, with Marais and Mackessy giving spectacular performances. While I sympathised with Joan, I couldn’t help but feel that she was being quite selfish, yes Amy is her daughter but she couldn’t just take her away from Greta either. I liked that Greta’s husband was the one to believe her and push this plot along, especially as he was the one who had her arrested. The scene between him and Joan at Laura’s grave was as equally heartbreaking as the scene between Joan and Greta. I felt that the outcome was predictable, Amy being returned to Joan was always going to happen, but the way in which the writers’ pulled it off was genius. It actually reminded me of the season 1 finale when Eva gave Deanna back to Annie. Overall I felt this plot was perfectly executed with the superb acting and tight writing.

Rita–Rita didn’t have many scenes but her role in the episode was significant as her admission of witnessing Matron burn the missing file ultimately lead to the latter’s downfall. Rita’s way of confessing was a subtle reminder of her tender age and I’m grateful that she didn’t take Andrew’s suggestion to heart to go to Father Ross. I’m glad that the moment Rita witnessed Matron burning the file wasn’t completely forgotten by the writers.

Andrew–I liked how the focus was on him trying to help Joan get Amy back rather than his love for Joan, although you could argue that his feelings for her pushed him to help her. Dan Hammill’s acting was superb, especially during the confrontation scene between Andrew and Matron. I also enjoyed the writers’ choice to leave the fate of his and Joan’s romance unknown.

Matron and Father Ross–The question on every viewer’s mind would have been if Matron was going to get her comeuppance in this episode. I’d say the answer is sort of. I loved how Matron spent about three quarters of the episode deflecting the blame on to almost everyone around her until she was backed into a corner. What I loved even more was the fact that it was Father Ross of all people who backed her into the corner. What I appreciated about her behaviour was that it incredibly true to her character, she didn’t take responsibility until she had no choice, and just when you think she was going to with her final interaction with Joan, she doesn’t, instead trying to reveal her justifications and vulnerabilities of her own choices. I felt that Matron resigning in literally her own conference room was very fitting, but I also felt that her resignation meant that she really wasn’t facing the consequences of what she did. On another note, I didn’t like the romance between her and Father Ross, it didn’t really add anything to the episode or the series as a whole, not to mention due to the traditional role of Fathers, especially back then, I found it inappropriate. I did like the writers’ choice to have her decide to travel to Italy, as this enables for a new chapter in her life.

Simon and Martha–Again they had smaller roles in this episode. I enjoyed Simon being cajoled/blackmailed into helping Debbie rescue Ed, and found his lack of improvisation skills and poker face hilarious. I also enjoyed seeing him in action as a doctor, and his joy at Elena and Ed naming their baby after him. When I saw the way Martha looked at him when he was holding the baby, I thought it would lead to her changing her mind about having children, so I was especially joyful at the reveal that she is already pregnant. Like Elena and Ed with their wedding and arrival of their son, Simon and Martha deserve the happiness of the impending arrival of their first child.

 

Overall I felt that this was the best season finale that Love Child has made so far, which is great on its own however it also worries me. Matron’s last line in the episode perfectly describes the situation with Love Child right now, “the future is wide open”. As I stated in last year’s season finale review, you can always tell when a show is uncertain about its future by the way the season finale written–necessary loose ends are tied up but there are some openings for story arcs next season (if there is one). A lot of loose ends were tied up but not a lot of new plots were set up, in fact there were only three noticeable future plots–Martha’s pregnancy, Joan and Andrew’s romance, and Matron’s travels.

In terms of the season itself, I felt the first half was completely off-kilter due to the excessive amount of main cast departures and continuity issues, however the second half was a significant improvement with superb acting and character development.

I really hope this isn’t Love Child‘s swan song.