Squinters–Pilot (Hit the Road)

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 pulled this off beautifully.

The premise of the show was established within the first ten seconds of the episode by displaying the dictionary definition of Squinters–“person who commutes to work…squinting into the rising sun in the morning and again into the setting sun in the evening.” Displaying this definition literally spells out the premise for those unfamiliar with the term and is the easiest way of kicking off the pilot.

The show so far revolves around ten main characters who are paired up by the car that they travel to and from work in, with the common thread being their place of work—the Kosciuszko Distribution Centre.

We kick off with Lukas (Sam Simmons) in Sales on his way to work with his mum, Audrey (Jacki Weaver). We find out in the morning car ride that he is gay, a dog breeder, believes he is up for a promotion, and that Audrey apparently wants to be “heated and turned into a diamond” when she dies so Lukas can wear her. While I found that the odd and slightly overbearing mother stereotype is overplayed and cliche, the relationship did feel slightly realistic and the chemistry between Simmons and Weaver was believable. Not to mention Weaver had great one-liners. Interestingly, during his drive home, we find out that Lukas was not promoted but made redundant and his mother does not accompany him during his drive home.

We then move on to Paul (Tim Minchin), a courier, giving Romi (Andrea Demetriades) in Marketing, a ride to work. Again another cliche is at play, with the unrequited crush that Paul has on Romi, to the point where he clearly thought a fake carpool club would be the perfect opportunity to get to know her and win her over, and of course Romi is oblivious to the whole thing. That being said I did enjoy their debate on white vans and psychos, and their awkward conversation on the way home about dating where it’s revealed that Paul is a painter.

Next we have Ned (Steen Raskopoulos) in I.T. and Macca (Justin Rosniak), a forklift driver, who use to go to school together. Ned is driving Macca to work due to the latter’s recent DUI charge. Macca is by far the most hilarious character and is obviously the show’s comic relief, especially with his first comedic moment consisting of getting high off a water bottle bong. The morning drive reveals that Macca was Ned’s school bully, while the evening drive has Macca reveal that he and his wife are trying to have children, which leads to him having a panic attack over how his life turned out, which then results in him getting out of Ned’s car and running away.

We then move on to Bridget (Mandy McElhinney), a wrapper, driving her older daughter, Mia (Jenna Owen) to school with a younger unnamed daughter in the back seat. On the morning drive, Bridget is trying to persuade Mia to think about her future so she doesn’t end up like her, while Mia tries to change the subject by reading her mother’s texts from a mystery lover. On the evening drive, Bridget is also driving Mia’s boyfriend, Vijay (John Luc) home.

The last pair we are introduced to are Simoni (Susie Youssef), in Dispatch driving her unemployed room mate, Talia (Rose Matafeo), to a job interview at the company and making sure she is ready for the interview, while vaguely talking about their dream of opening a “yoga wine bar”. On the evening drive it’s revealed that Talia not only got a job, but her job is area supervisor which means she is Simoni’s superior. While Simoni doing a practice interview for Talia on the morning drive was great, the evening drive home was better as a solid conflict was established through the rug being ripped under Simoni’s feet by Talia’s new position, as she realises she may not be as talented or superior as she previously believed and implied to Talia at the start of the day.

While the episode alternates between each pair and none of them interact with each other à la Love Actually, the episode ends with Lukas hitting Macca with his car, which may be a sign that the pairs will interact with each other at some point.

The most interesting aspect about this pilot and the show is that it’s not a “day in the life of” rather we see and learn about the characters at the start and end of their days. We don’t see any of the daily dramas they have to deal with, rather we are told about them, therefore the overall story reverts the classic writing rule, and tells and instead of shows. That being said that doesn’t mean that the episode lacked nuances or “read between the lines” moments, these were present in particular with the interactions between Macca and Ned, Paul and Romi, and Simoni and Talia.

Overall this was a solid pilot with a promising premise, however some of its aforementioned cliches (Weaver’s character and Paul’s crush on Romi) did undermine it a little. I’m looking forward to reviewing the following five episodes.

 

Best one liners:

  • “Every silver cloud has a black lining” (Audrey).
  • “I know what Barney’s farts smell like mum!” (Lukas to Audrey)
  • “Why do people always say white vans are creepy?” (Paul to Romi)
  • “I think correct spelling and grammar are a turn on” (Bridget talking about her mystery lover’s correct spelling and grammar in his texts).
  • “Cold nads make lads!” (Macca to Ned on why he isn’t wearing pants on the evening drive).

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