Archive | April 2018

Sando–Season 1, Episode 5 (Lockdown)

Again the episode kicks off with a 90s-ish Sando’s ad, this time focusing on dodgy furniture contracts.

This episode mainly focuses on Don and Sando as they are locked in Don’s “man cave” for most of it, both of them needing to escape as they have important events to attend–Don, his first pub gig, and Sando, the board meeting. While this is a simple and cliche premise, it worked well for this episode as it allowed for character development. Don and Sando resolved some of their issues and ended up having sex, but didn’t end up getting back together.

While they eventually escaped by going through the floor and eventually made it to their respective events, the character development achieved while in “lockdown” goes one step further with Sando as she decides to miss the board meeting to attend Don’s gig, proving that she can be selfless. Another interesting moment is when Sando finds herself attracted to him, voices it and Nicky hears her, feeling threatened, however this isn’t addressed in the episode. Not surprisingly, Don’s gig fails him when he tries his original songs but he ends up succeeding by embracing his jingles as Sando and the rest of the family suggested.

The B subplot was just ridiculous with Rian finding an old picture of Susie when she had pointy goblin-like ears and of course she assumes Susie is a goblin and puts herself in “lockdown” in her closet. While it’s natural for a child her age to see something like this and make such an assumption, what’s unnatural and ridiculous is Gary falling for it, even Eric doesn’t fall for it. Eventually all is sorted, just in time for Don’s gig. In all honesty, while it provided an insight into Susie, this subplot didn’t add anything else to the episode.

Overall this was a good episode, especially as the family were brought together and seemed happier. The unresolved moments of Sando’s decision to not attend the board meeting, Susie meeting with Kevin as a potential investor for her business, and Nicky’s insecurity about having Sando around Don, provide a great springboard for the finale.

 

Stray Observations:

–Vic Junior hates kids.

Best one liners:

  • “I’ve been banned from TAFE” (Eric).
  • “You’re not high from sniffing a Birchgrove lounge set are you?” (Sando to Tony).

Sando–Season 1, Episode 4 (Therapy)

In my previous review, I asked for improvement in the second half of the season and this episode certainly showed promise.

The episode kicks off again with a 90s-ish ad establishing the episode’s theme–hypnotism.

Susie wants Sando to have a therapy session with Nicky to get her to change, during this session Nicky tries to get Sando to open up, even trying to manipulate her, but to no avail as Sando outwits her. When she hypnotises Sando into being a selfless person, the A story is established.

Sando gives Susie her cup of tea, offers to get Kevin to stop coming around, does the grocery shopping, cooks breakfast for everyone, and motivates Kevin to become a pilot. Of course everyone in the family is surprised by her selflessness and enjoys it until she decides to have a family dinner, which includes Kevin. It is at this dinner that tensions are brought out into the open, specifically between Susie and Gary, which leads to Susie ordering Nicky to change Sando back to the way she was. She seems to do so, only for her to apparently make things worse as Sando puts the house on the market the next morning.

It is at this moment that Sando reveals she was faking being hypnotised the entire time and calls everyone out on their feelings for her brilliantly in one sentence–“you need me because I make you feel better about yourselves”. This moment shows great character development and writing as it shows Sando is aware of what everyone really thinks of her and it also displays the other main characters’ flaws.

The B story has Kevin and Gary meeting for the first time and becoming friends to Susie’s chagrin. Kevin makes an appearance seemingly trying to win Susie over with his delicious biscuits, when in reality he actually tried to win over Vic Junior’s teacher. He is also more supportive of Susie’s business ideas than Gary and displays his I.T. skills, which makes Gary feel threatened, until he sees Kevin’s sports car, which Kevin allows him to take a spin in. I at first thought that Kevin was trying to manipulate Gary to win Susie back, especially during the dinner, but in reality he cares about them deeply and probably did both of them a favour by getting their tensions out in the open. I appreciated that the writers avoid the “ex-boyfriend-trying-to-win-his-girlfriend over” cliche, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Kevin’s friendship with Gary and Susie goes.

Overall this episode was a huge improvement from the last one, with improved writing and character development and going without the outlandish jokes.

 

Best one liners:

  • “This is the hardest session I’ve ever had to do since I had to convince Eric the tooth fairy isn’t a real girl” (Nicky to Sando on their therapy session).
  • “Alright settle down Pete Evans!” (Susie to Nicky)
  • “A pilot can’t risk getting accidentally hypnotised” (Eric to Rian when he puts his sunglasses on during Nicky’s second hypnotherapy session with Sando).

Sando–Season 1, Episode 3 (New Mum)

While Sando has been filled with outlandish jokes, unfortunately in this episode the A story itself was outlandish and ridiculous, which brought down the episode and made it a failure.

The episode kicks off with its usual 90s-ish Sando’s ad of an “out with the old, in with the new” sale, which of course is the theme of the episode. We then see Sando on the phone with Tony, she is talking about Susie coming back to the business and Tony is altering the Sando’s logo to feature his face, which I know will be focused on in a later episode. We then cut to Sando and Eric talking at the pool, with Sando providing a backstory on Susie’s business skills and talent, which again will most likely appear in a later episode, but let’s get back to this one.

Sando catches Don and Nicky in the act, which leads to her blackmailing them into convincing Susie to let her stay longer. While the blackmail was pulled off well, it’s a shame no more came out of it. Shortly after this deal is made, Gary admits to Don that he is addicted to skinny dipping. While a skinny dipping addiction is ridiculous and Gary’s confession to it is a little cheesy, it did provide some great comic moments, such as when Gary near falls off the wagon and wants to dip his toe in, and when Gary actually does fall off the wagon to his relief and everyone’s shock.

However the skinny dipping addiction isn’t what makes the A story outlandish and ridiculous, it was Susie’s desire to divorce Sando and subsequently ask Nicky to adopt her and be Rian’s grandmother. Nicky obviously can’t adopt Susie and Rian’s teacher going along with this charade was unrealistic. Nicky becoming addicting to darning, wearing glasses and acting like a grandmother was both funny and ridiculous.

Meanwhile, Eric, hoping to take over the family business, applies to work at one of the Sando’s stores, where he is immediately hired by Mikal (Michael Denkha) once he makes his identity clear. While it was obvious that Eric would do a bad job, it was hilarious to see his downfall, not to mention it was good to see that Sando is capable of conducting business and being selfless at the same time, even if the intentions were dubious.

While I’m critical where I need to be when I’m reviewing, I’m not usually this scathing. The reason why I’m so scathing of this episode is not only the obvious ridiculousness of the writing but the fact that the characters themselves, mostly Don and Sando, point out how ridiculous the A story actually is. While you could argue that the writers and characters are poking fun at themselves, it’s one thing to poke fun, another to completely ridicule.

Hopefully there’s improvement in the second half of the season.

 

Stray Observations:

Here Come the Habibs alumni, Michael Denkha (Fou Fou) and Sam Alhaje (Toufic) make an appearance.

-Vic Junior didn’t make an appearance.

-Don doesn’t like Gary calling him dad.

 

Best one liners:

  • “You guys would make terrible teenagers” (Sando to Don and Nicky).
  • “I wore my best interview socks” (Eric to Mikal).
  • “Is it because I eat beef stock cubes in bed, because I can stop!” (Gary to Susie when she announces she wants a divorce).

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 8 (Peccata Patrisi)

Refreshingly, this episode had three subplots and didn’t put the Quinn subplot front and centre.

The episode kicks off with a rower discovering the body of a young fellow rower, Rhys Weir (Earl John) who has seemingly slipped and hit his head on the pier, but of course it’s not that easy. We are given the all-too obvious red herring of Rhys being on the receiving end of a nasty comment on Instagram after unintentionally breaking his school’s 8-year winning streak in the scull, just before the reveal that Rhys was openly gay. While the case feels garden variety at first with obvious red herrings being dealt with, the discovery of Rhys’ seminal plasma hypersensitivity, or semen allergy, made it interesting.

While it was clear that one of his best mates, Ash (Jon Prasida), Luke (Jack Stratton-Smith) who wrote the nasty comment on Instagram, or Sean (Joe Klocek) was involved in his murder, there was still the matter of finding out who. While Luke seemed like the obvious choice due to his nasty comment and reluctance to co-operate when Saroya and Harrow questioned them, it became clear from the moment his father, Julian (Ben Wood) nastily shut them down that it became obvious that was Sean was involved somehow.

When Simon and Harrow discover that Rhys didn’t hit his head at the pier, but at the water feature at the Paulson’s home, Sean folds and tells the truth. The tension between Sean and Julian as Sean confessed and Julian tried to stop him, looking as though he was about to blow at any moment, was played out beautifully, especially by Klocek, he has a bright future ahead of him.

However the highlight of the episode comes when Julian tries to attack Sean when he confesses that Julian was ultimately responsible, and Simon defends him. In this moment, a major amount of character development with Simon is shown in a brief and subtle moment and Hii’s performance in it was brilliant. We find out that Simon can defend himself because he had to and he laments that the world hasn’t changed all that much in regards to accepting homosexuality. I’m hoping in the remaining two episodes there is a little more character development with Simon as he spends most of his time alternating between being Harrow’s and Fairley’s sidekick.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of action on the Robert Quinn front. Quinn’s skull was found at the bottom of the river, Nichols had Stephanie under surveillance, Stephanie’s home was searched after Saroya admits to seeing her with Quinn’s wedding ring, and Saroya asked Fern questions when they ran into each other on Harrow’s yacht, which also marks their first interaction. Just when I thought this episode actually wouldn’t be giving the viewers any cookie crumbs, especially when Harrow managed to prevent Saroya from discovering his missing surgical pliers, we are given one at the end of the episode when it’s revealed that Stephanie was in hospital on the day Quinn disappeared, and that Fern slashed the right side tyres on Quinn’s car. Although the Quinn subplot was dispersed well throughout the episode, I felt that these reveals were rushed due to the fact that there are only two episodes of the season remaining.

Another highlight of the episode was the Maxine subplot. At the beginning of the episode we see her autopsy skills on display and she herself reveals to Harrow that it’s the first one she has done in 7 years, and we also see her managerial backbone in play as she puts Fairley in his place. We also see Nichols’  romantic side when he leaves Maxine a message and proposes to her at the end of the episode. Sadly, I see their romance ending as Maxine didn’t inform Nichols of her job offer to begin with and laughed at his proposal, that being said I’m hoping I’m wrong.

Overall this was one of the best episodes of Harrow with a strong and heartbreaking case of the week, strong emotional performances by Klocek and Hii, and plenty of reveals in the Quinn subplot to keep the viewers in suspense for the upcoming penultimate and finale episodes.

 

 

Sando–Season 1, Episode 2 (Sorry)

Now that the pilot has established the premise and characters, we can get into subplots and story arcs.

Again the episode kicks off with another 90s-ish furniture ad featuring Sando, Don and the kids when they were younger. The ad is about a “don’t be sorry sale”, which fits the episode’s name and main theme, which I’ll get to.

Another theme of the episode is the mother-son relationship between Sando and Eric, especially with the first appearance of Vic Junior (Zane Ciarma), her son with Kevin. In the first few minutes of the episode, Eric is clinging to Sando in an unhealthy and creepy way, to the point where Sando kicks him out of the pool house, and the contrast between both Eric and Vic Junior, and the relationships that Sando has with the two of them are made explicitly clear when Vic Junior shows up at the house.

When Vic Junior shows up to the house, he comes across as obnoxious as he refers to his parents by their names, however he shows his intelligence as he points out to Susie that he didn’t do anything wrong and neither did she and that they were two innocent bystanders in the Sando-Kevin situation. Interestingly, after this interaction it is revealed to the viewers that Susie felt hostility towards Vic Junior and she herself admits that now she has met him she not only likes him, but likes him more than Eric. While Eric is immediately jealous of Vic Junior and Sando’s bond from the moment he shows up, especially when he witnesses their weekly ritual of watching Canterbury Bulldogs games whilst wearing personalised Bulldogs shirts.

Vic Junior is not the only character from the past that makes an appearance, Kevin makes a reappearance as well. With his reappearance it is revealed that he and Sando are not together and unlike Sando, he sincerely apologises to Susie and she in turn forgives him. Now that Susie has forgiven him and has met and likes Vic Junior, and she is starting to show some selfish qualities similar to Sando’s, it will be interesting to see where her character development goes over the course of the season.

I felt that the kidnapping jokes after Eric left Vic Junior at the movies fell a little flat, but was nevertheless written well as Eric’s decision to leave and then change his mind, and Vic Junior’s choice to call an Uber home and mess with Eric’s head was true to both their characters. Vic Junior said Eric would pay for his actions but doesn’t specify how, I’m looking forward to seeing their bond grow and if it doesn’t, how Vic Junior will get his revenge.

The end of the episode provided not slapstick comedy so much, but more of an outlandish joke with Sando making a film starring Sigrid Thornton to apologise to Susie. While I love Sigrid Thornton, I felt that this joke fell flat. That being said the film led to a significant moment between Susie and Sando, as Sando calls Susie out on her unwillingness to forgive her for her actions, especially as while they were unacceptable, they did provide Susie with the opportunity to find a man better suited to her. After this, there seems to be hope at the end of the episode of the start of a reconciliation only for Sando’s selfishness to get the better of her again, which brings her back to square one.

Overall this episode was an improvement on the pilot with increased character development and decreased slapstick comedic moments and outlandish jokes.

 

Stray Observations:

Running gags: “belt broken” as a reason/excuse to have sex, Don and Nicky having sex in confined spaces, and Don and Nicky using peanut butter while they have sex.

-Sando’s son is named Vic Junior, yet his father’s name is Kevin.

-Sando’s and Vic Junior’s laughs are identical.

Best one liners:

  • “I’m allergic to confrontation” (Gary).
  • “Not bad, I definitely heard some regret” (Gary to Susie on Sando’s attempt at apologising).
  • “I’ve got to do everything in this house! Answer the door, drink all the wine…” (Sando).
  • “Rivers, oceans, Don’s throbbing….” (Nicky to herself, trying to keep calm and focused).

Sando–Pilot (Prodigal Mum)

The job of a pilot is to establish a show’s premise and characters, and set up story arcs for the season, I felt that this pilot did a good job.

The episode kicks off with a 90s-looking television ad of Sando’s–a discount furniture store, with the “package deal queen” and namesake, Vicki “Sando” Sandringham (Sacha Horler), with her family advertising the discounts on offer. We are then brought forward an unidentified number of years to the wedding of Sando’s oldest child, Susie (Krew Boylan) to Kevin (Firass Dirani). We are given a brief insight into how Sando’s fame has affected her as a person, and the background on the furniture business, before the reveal that Sando is pregnant with Kevin’s baby. Sando fails to comically explain away the affair when Kevin admits at the altar he’s in love with Sando and we then see Kevin kicked through the church doors by Susie, before Sando runs off and Susie rushes back to the catastrophe of her fallen-through wedding.

We are then brought forward 10 years into the future, to the present day, where we see a more current ad of Sando’s, albeit without her family. Sando’s have become successful, however Sando herself is still as immature as ever, deciding to throw a crazy EOFY party without a second thought, which leads to the CFO, Tony (Rob Carlton), revealing she has been thrown out of the company and her paid-for home.

Then the viewers are brought up-to-date with Susie’s life, which has changed mostly for the better, as she found love with husband, Gary (Uli Latukefu) and had a daughter, Rian (Sierra Lewis) however she is living with her father, Don (Phil Lloyd), and younger brother, Eric (Dylan Hesp) to save money as her online business is struggling.

Sando showing up at Rian’s birthday party on a horse and trying to make amends was hilarious, especially as it led to scenes which gave more of an insight into the family and their dynamic. Don can’t build a music career due to his only success amounting to the jingle he wrote for the furniture store and is having an affair with Susie’s best friend, Nicky (Adele Vuko), Eric is still a child, and Gary is working four jobs to support Susie’s business idea which isn’t going anywhere. Another insight into the family dynamic is provided when Susie and Sando’s conflict comes to a head at the birthday party when Eric reveals he told Sando about Susie’s business, and Susie tasers Sando.

Ultimately it’s Gary, the family in-law who doesn’t know Sando, who suggests she moves in to help them out, and here the premise of the show is set up.

Overall this pilot did a good job with establishing it’s premise and characters. While this pilot was packed with great one-liners, I’m not sure if the slapstick comedic moments such as Kevin being thrown through the church doors, the EOFY party, and Sando being tasered, really suit the show, I felt they were a little over the top.

I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the season and seeing where it goes.

 

Stray Observations:

-Susie allows her anti-vaxxer friends to bring their children to Rian’s birthday party on the condition that they stay in a pen. Susie display some new age qualities, but isn’t completely anti-western medicine.

-Sando’s furniture displaying skills are shown in the last five minutes of the episode when she manages to clean up the pool house that has been used as storage for years.

Best one liners:

  • “You’ve turned my beautiful boutique store into a bargain basement furniture whorehouse for bogans!” (Sando’s mother, Catherine to Sando).
  • He was all over me like a fat kid on a biscuit!” (Sando on her and Kevin’s sexual encounter which led to her pregnancy).
  • “We’re like fake tan on a bra–we’re everywhere!” (Sando to her colleagues on the store’s success).
  • “I’m the reason people run through those doors and blow their baby bonus on a flatscreen” (Sando to Tony).
  • “It’s not my fault that you’ve burnt every bridge you ever had with anyone who ever loved you!” (Tony to Sando).
  • “Stop using my life as a routine” (Gary to Eric).
  • “Vicki, what have I told you about showing up here on one of your redemption benders!?” (Don to Sando when she shows up at Rian’s birthday party on a horse).

 

Squinters–Season Finale (End of the Road)

So we’ve reached the season finale of Squinters.

We kick off the episode with Ned and Macca on their way to the civil suit mediation. Ned slightly reveals how wealthy he is through how much he makes through his app sales and Macca, wearing his wedding suit, reveals that he tried to commit suicide after finding out his wife has moved in with one of his mates.

Both Lukas and Miles’ morning and afternoon drives revolve around Audrey’s recent death and deciding what burial wish of hers to respect. While Paul is on his morning drive alone as Romi has moved up to the Gold Coast and Simoni constantly apologises to Talia during their morning drive. Bridget and Mia’s morning drive was interesting as Mia brutally broke up with Gary for Bridget, and both Bridget and Mia reveal to each other that they might be pregnant.

In regards to the afternoon drives home, Lukas talks to Davis about the reveal that the Kosciuszko Distribution Centre has been bought out by a U.S. Hedge Fund. Lukas is actually calm due to the fact that he took a $300,000 redundancy pay out and only had to pay Macca $10,000 in the civil suit. Lukas ends up asking Davis out and accepts, so he gets his happily ever after. Ned and Macca’s afternoon drive home also revolves around the outcome of the civil suit, which Macca is happy about, as well as the reveal of the Centre being bought out. Macca also apologises to Ned for giving him the wedgie that led to his testicle removal.

Simoni and Talia’s afternoon drive home misleads the viewers slightly, making us believe that they managed to return the virgin hair albeit under pressure, only for Talia to reveal that they never returned it. While Bridget and Mia’s afternoon drive home reveals that while Mia is not pregnant, Bridget is, and then Mia informs Bridget that she’s out of a job. While Paul’s drive home is diverted to the airport to supposedly pick up a prisoner, only for it to be Romi surprising him with the news she quit her job to give their relationship a shot. While I found this to be cliche, it was also the best outcome as they got their happily ever after and it would disappoint the viewers if they didn’t.

The episode and the season ends with all of the characters embracing the happiness they found, without worrying too much about the future, with the last moments showing the Kosciuszko Distribution Centre sign being taken down. This moment can be interpreted as providing potential for the next season (if there is another one) or that it marks the end of the show in a subtle way.

Overall I enjoyed watching Squinters, the characters weren’t really relatable but they were fun and easy to get to know. The writers’ choice to have the premise be on the characters’ commute to work rather than showing their actual day at work was a unique one that I believe paid off reasonably well. I believe the choice to make it a 20-30 minute show instead of the typical one hour show was a good one as focusing on people in cars for an hour would grow tired.

I’m hoping there’s another season, however there isn’t, this finale provided a good, well-rounded end to the show.