Archive | August 2018

Street Smart–Season 1, Episode 2

This week’s episode pretty much followed the formula it established last week—-Steve instantly comes up with an idea that’s bound to fail, he and his Street Smart gang get to work fast, the failure happens and they’re back at square one. This week’s idea—-youth cream.

I felt that the youth cream idea was a more realistic goal and a less ridiculous idea than last week’s idea to steal from the police. I personally enjoyed seeing that they were briefly successful and things looked up, however I knew the failure moment would come, and I enjoyed the subtle reveal of it through Joseph and Trans getting itchy in their sleep. While the failure was obvious, the youth cream recipe turned out to be a recipe for haemorrhoid cream, it was also realistic. Although Steve’s parents were heavily stereotypical, they were also funny and I liked that they experienced more business success than Steve himself did.

Meanwhile, Joseph is up to his usual tricks by completing an obstacle course in his front yard, complete with inflatable tyres, in an effort to be ready for the police force. I found his “Operation Wheelie Bin” idea hilarious, although I didn’t totally buy that Shane didn’t see him as he was emptying some of the youth cream into the bin, but since Shane isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, I’ll give it a pass.

Overall I felt this episode was an improvement to last week’s as the gang’s idea was more realistic and more characters were introduced.

 

Stray Observations:

-Joseph’s last name is revealed as Abboud.

-This episode marks the first appearance of Steve’s parents.

-Steve’s mother keeps a bowl of pumpkin seeds in one of her desk drawers.

-Merrick Watts made a cameo as a drug officer.

-The gang has a code of conduct.

-The gag with Steve’s mother clipping Steve’s father’s toenails in bed appearing to Steve that they were having sex is a cliche, but Steve’s reactions and facial expressions made it funny.

Pun for this week–Tight R’s (the name of the youth cream)

Best one liners:

  • “I’ve got ethnic back!” (Joseph to Tia)
  • “The beauty industry is made up, it preys on the insecurity of vain, shallow people who have too much money to spend.” (Raj to the gang, summing up the beauty industry)
  • “What do you think this is Breaking Bad?” (Steve to Shane when he sees him in his underwear around the lab equipment)
  • “I’m Asian, we don’t need to look younger!” (Trans to Hung about her refusal to use the youth cream herself)
  • “Sure NCIS!” (The drug officer to Joseph when the latter requests to be there when Steve’s busted)

Doctor Doctor–Season 3, Episode 3 (Shock Rock)

In all honesty, I made my mind up about this episode about halfway through, I wasn’t a fan and the writers have dropped the ball and I’ll tell you why.

First and foremost is the reveal that Hugh’s ex-wife, Harriet (Genevieve Hegney), is pregnant with his child. When the promos said this would be the biggest baby drama they really oversold it as it didn’t surprise me and it wasn’t as serious a drama as Hayley’s.

It’s obvious the writers have brought Harriet back, complete with a pregnancy, as an obstacle to keep Penny and Hugh apart as their sexual tension has broken. Harriet giving Hugh the option of being a part of the child’s life or having nothing to do with them and only being referred to as a sperm donor, was both ridiculous and true to her character. While Hugh was clearly struggling with the moral dilemma, it was obvious that he was going to pick the easy option, tell Penny who would then break up with him, and then change his mind, While inserting Harriet and her unborn baby as an obstacle may be necessary to keep the Hugh and Penny story arc interesting, I feel it was an unrealistic one.

Adding on to this point, the second way the writers dropped the ball was by having Hugh having casual sex again with the pharmaceutical sales rep that has appeared at least once in both seasons. Considering the fact that the writers decided to break the sexual tension between Hugh and Penny, and how devoted Hugh has been to Penny, it actually seemed out of character for him to hookup with the rep for the first time in a while.

As casting is not on the writers, I feel the producers dropped the ball by casting Vince Colosimo as Charlie’s father, Carlito, not because of his acting but because of his age. Colosimo is only fifteen years older then da Silva so I personally didn’t find it believable that he could be Charlie’s father. Despite this, Colosimo performed brilliantly as his character provided much needed comic relief. His character is a disaster magnet, which I loved, however I felt that Ivy and his issues with Ivy’s mother, Vanessa, didn’t add anything to the episode. However considering the father-daughter chemistry between Colosimo and da Silva, and the fact that Colosimo would steal every scene he was in, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Carlito and the trouble he’ll cause.

Despite my criticisms of the writing of this episode, the writers definitely didn’t go wrong with the Hayley subplot. While it seemed obvious that Hayley was suffering from post-natal depression, it’s later revealed that she fears God is punishing her and the baby, as her pregnancy is the result one of hers and Ajax’s pre-marital sex sessions. The scene where Hugh gently sets her straight was subtle and fantastic, not to mention I always enjoy their interactions as father-in-law and daughter-in-law, especially as they are both similar in their approach with Ajax, albeit Hayley is more gentle.

On smaller notes, Meryl’s grief has extended to donating Jim’s clothes to charity, only to have to painfully deal with the ramifications of seeing men who look like Jim all over town wearing his clothes. I felt this was very realistic and handled with a great amount of sensitivity. Also the Knight Cartwright Cardiac Research Clinic finally opened, which was only briefly touched on, but I’m hoping will be present and used in later episodes.

Overall I felt this episode was a hit-and-miss and took a left turn from the previous two episodes, I’m hoping the writers got back on track with the rest of the season.

 

Stray Observations:

-Dora sighting: At the glamping site again.

Hospital drama: Hugh and Penny attending to a man impaled on a fence after falling off a horse. This is also the first hospital drama of the season.

-Charlie is now principal of the school she works at.

-It has been two years since Charlie saw Carlito.

-Apparently Charlie has Portuguese ancestry on her father’s side.

-Betty is still leading the Whyhope AA meetings and is the first to find out about Harriet’s pregnancy and finds herself in a moral dilemma.

Best one liners and interactions:

Like last week’s episode, this one also had some great interactions as well as one liners.

  • “What if it’s porn?” “Better still” (Hugh-Betty on the USB Hugh received in the mail from Harriet)
  • “Needy Hugh….weird, but okay.” (The pharmaceutical sales rep to Hugh)
  • “From the moment they’re born we start to fail” (Meryl to Carlito)
  • “You’re Hugh Knight, why would you change?” (Harriet)
  • “I don’t know whether to congratulate you for getting out of bed or tell you off for scaring us all afternoon” (Mia to Hayley)

Doctor Doctor–Season 3, Episode 2 (Isn’t She Lovely)

Although I don’t do it very often, I do like doing my reviews character by character. When I do it, it’s usually because there was so much that happened in an episode, the easiest way to review it all is to break it down character by character. I felt that this episode was a little slow moving at first but went from 0-60 about halfway through when Hayley’s pregnancy crisis quickly surfaced.

Again with this episode, although the Hayley drama didn’t arise until halfway through I felt that the farm drama was more in the background.

Hugh, Matt and Ajax–Hugh’s efforts to fix the water pump were a great running gag and bookends of the episode. Although Hugh’s struggles with running the farm aren’t being hidden, his efforts to fix the water pump, especially the attempt as if he were performing open heart surgery, were a subtle way of showing his struggle to balance his life as a doctor and his duties to his family. While Matt and Ajax’s bickering wasn’t as a bad in this episode, it was starting to get a bit old, so I was relieved when Matt decided to step up when Ajax and Hayley’s baby was born. Ajax’s revelation that he doesn’t want to work on the farm without Jim was heartbreaking but not that surprising and with the baby being born and nearly losing Hayley in the process, it might give him the perfect reason to step back for a while.

Matt, Charlie and Meryl–Matt and Charlie’s troubles were generally front and centre in this episode. Hayley’s insistence on Charlie having children brought up old issues for the couple. Matt wants to have a baby and Charlie clearly doesn’t, something that you think they would have discussed before getting married. Compounding to this issue is the stress of whether police officer, Darren, who has made a sudden reappearance, is angling for a bribe. Meryl briefly stepped away from her grief over Jim to help them decipher whether Darren was angling for a bribe and according to her, he was. It was good to see Meryl as her old self, even if it was only brief.

Ajax and Hayley–Ajax and Hayley were going along smoothly in this episode but due to the promos, I knew it wouldn’t last long. Hayley discovers she has HELLP Syndrome, a form of pre-eclampsia and subsequently suffers from a seizure and ultimately has to undergo a C-Section. Matt Castley’s and Chloe Bayliss’ performances as scared parents-to-be were on point and were the highlight of the episode. I ultimately knew that Chloe and the baby would survive (although I was scared for the latter for a moment), as it’s incredibly rare for a show to kill off two leads in the one season.

 

Overall, despite moving at an initially slow pace, this was a solid episode as the family’s grief over Jim’s loss and the troubles with the farm are still present but aren’t overwhelming. There were still dramatic stakes with Hayley’s pregnancy complication, which were resolved with a realistic but much needed happy ending.

 

Stray Observations:

-The show’s theme song has “returned to normal” although I thought it might have been more sombre to reflect Jim’s death.

-I was wondering the entire time whether Hayley’s insistence on Charlie having children was an inside joke and reference to Nicole de Silva’s real life pregnancy during production.

-Hayley’s the one playing Call of Duty now.

-I know this is nit picky, but considering the attention to detail provided in order to provide a realistic surgical setting, I was surprised to see Ajax was all geared up with his hair tied back, surgical mask and clothing on, and yet he wasn’t wearing gloves, I wonder who let that detail slip.

-Dora sighting: At the glamping site when Darren shows up.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

This episode had many great interactions beyond the classic one liner, so I decided to include interactions as well.

  • “I’m not making a point, I’m making an empire!” (Matt to Hugh)
  • “Welcome to the real world my darlings!” (Meryl to Matt and Charlie when discussing if Darren was looking for a bribe)
  • “It’s very beautiful for cold mechanical objects” (Betty on the new machine in the heart clinic)
  • “Maybe robots in the future will actually be quite lovable” (Betty)
  • “I think we were overcome by the shiny objects” (Penny to Hugh on their quickie in the clinic)
  • “Making it rhyme does not make it fine!” (Charlie to Matt after he tries to bribe Darren)
  • “Did you just give yourself a compliment while apologising?” (Penny to Hugh)
  • “Congratulations grandad!”, “You’re fired!”, “You don’t work here anymore!” (Mia-Hugh-Mia)
  • “Thanks for nearly dying for our baby”, “my pleasure” (Ajax-Hayley)
  • “So boring”, “So beautiful” (Hugh-Matt simultaneously about farm life)

 

Doctor Doctor–Season 3 Premiere (Tell Her, It’s Over!)

Well this season premiere got off to an intense start with the main focus being on Jim’s death and a minor focus on Hugh’s ending probation. As the premiere was so intense and there’s a lot to cover, I’m going to do this review character by character.

Meryl and Hayley—Meryl and Hayley’s interactions in this episode were the most intense and interesting. Throughout the course of the episode, the circumstances of Jim’s death are slowly revealed. Meryl and Jim were having a night out in the ute under the stars and Jim had a massive heart attack, Meryl unsuccessfully tried to revive him and then had to drive his body back to the house to tell everyone. The depths of Meryl’s grief are explored in a sensitive and realistic manner. You first see her trying to keep herself together but it doesn’t take long for her grief to take hold of her.

As she keeps having flashbacks in her sleep, she refuses to sleep and drinks coffee and takes NoDoz-like pills to stay awake. As a result, as Hugh later points out when he discovers she’s been dosing herself up on the pills and coffee, she becomes irrational and snappy by coming up with the nuclear fuel rod documentary idea, makes cakes all night, eventually runs her car off the road, and culminates with her snapping at Hayley and Hugh having to sedate her when he finds out what’s been happening after he sees her playing Call of Duty.

The cinematographic choice to have close up shots of Meryl’s eyes was a perfect one, it subtly shows her grief and her pain without adding unnecessary dialogue. The writers’ choice to have her breakdown and Hugh discover what she has been doing and help her simultaneously, was superb. Another superb and subtle choice was to have Meryl make the heartbreaking admission that she doesn’t want to sleep as she is experiencing flashbacks in her dreams and she doesn’t want to sleep in the bed alone.

A highlight for me was not only Tina Bursill’s phenomenal and heart wrenching performance, but also the exploration of Hayley and Meryl’s relationship. While they have always had a solid relationship which has been fun to watch and Hayley has always been a strong woman, it’s interesting to watch their dynamic grow as Hayley is now married to Ajax and pregnant with Meryl’s (technically) great-grandchild. Due to their close relationship, Hayley is the only one to be subjected to Meryl’s irrational behaviour and to see how much the grief has taken hold of her and tries to support her. Hugh also sees it, but only (presumably) after Hayley speaks to him, not to mention you can also see Hayley’s maternal instincts come into play.

Overall Bursill’s performance was the most spectacular out of the cast, and Bayliss played her part as the concerned daughter/granddaughter-in-law and expectant mother with the right balance of strength and naivety that is true to Hayley’s character.

Matt and Ajax—As Jim has passed away, the question was who was going to inherit the farm. This question was answered last season when Jim and Meryl revealed that Hugh would inherit it as the oldest son despite his lack of desire and knowledge of farming, however they made this choice to secure Ajax’s future in particular. I found it odd that Matt was upset considering he seemed to be aware of Jim and Meryl’s decision, but I appreciated that Matt’s battle over how the farm would run wasn’t with Hugh but with Ajax. Matt has been running the farm with Jim for years and has desires to grow hops to make more money for the farm and brewery, but Ajax is against it as it wasn’t what Jim wanted.

I felt Ajax and Matt’s constant battles was well-balanced with the right amount of humour and realism. I also found it hilarious that Ajax dobbed on Matt to Hugh on the phone, while High was high as a kite.

Interweaved throughout their battles is their grief. Matt is internalising his grief by not saying much about it, to the point where Charlie expresses her concerns that he’s not dealing with it. Whereas Ajax is externalising his grief by taking it out on everyone, first by splashing water on couples at the wake, then by pulling skeet and later shooting imaginary skeet on his own, culminating in him destroying Matt’s hops. Their grief and animosity are yet to be resolved, and it will be interesting to see how it eventually (hopefully) will be later in the season.

Charlie–Charlie only played a minor role in this episode by getting Glen and Rod away from Meryl at the wake, trying to help Matt deal with his grief, asking Hugh to deal with the conflict between Matt and Ajax, and revealing to Hugh that Jim took out loans without telling her, as she runs the farm’s accounts, something that was touched upon in the previous two seasons.

Hugh and Penny (and Ken, Mia and Betty)—Hugh and Penny’s relationship, both professional and romantic, were only briefly addressed. At the wake both of them get a call informing them that the Board is reviewing Hugh’s probation a month before his year is officially up. Hugh heads off to the city to find out his fate and is welcomed back by the Board. I feel like this was always going to be the outcome, however despite it’s predictability, it was the right one. I held my breath when one of the doctors asked for a drug test and then breathed a sigh of relief out when he said he was joking (I then laughed at the writers’ practical joke with the audience). On the romantic front, Hugh and Penny finally have sex for the first time, although this now means that the sexual tension between them is now gone.

While the appearance of Ken, Mia and Betty were only brief in this episode, it didn’t go to waste. Ken and Mia not being bothered by Ajax soaking them with a bucket of water when they were kissing was hilarious, as was Ken giving Hugh a cursed stone hoping it would work to keep him in Whyhope, and it was even funnier when he asked for the stone back and threw it away. The reveal that Mia brought a flask to work (and most likely not the first time she’s done this) was also hilarious, and Betty still knowing all is a running gag that will never get old.

While Hugh’s year is up and he has been welcomed back by the Board, it was obvious that he was going to stay in Whyhope, at least for a “few more weeks”. The premise of the show revolves around him being stuck in Whyhope, so if he’s not around, there’s no show. Sticking around to deal with the farm debt and to work at the new heart clinic that Ken mentioned, are realistic reasons to do so, and gives this season endless potential with story arcs and subplots.

 

Overall this was Doctor Doctor‘s best season premiere to date and one of the best season premieres I’ve ever seen, with grief and loss being dealt with in an intense but realistic manner, with the right amount of humour mixed in. However I am disappointed in the major continuity problem of the end of Hugh’s probation and Hayley’s pregnancy—-in the penultimate episode of last season, it was revealed that Hugh had 88 days left in his probation (around three months) and yet Hayley is clearly in her second trimester. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the reason.

 

Stray Observations:

-The episode is set less than week after Jim died.

-The show’s theme song has been re-done.

-The episode sparked an interesting debate about what behaviour is appropriate at a wake—-Ajax thought it was inappropriate that people are happy and having fun, while Meryl and Hayley were glad that everyone was having a good time.

-I’d like to know what planet Glen and Rod live on that they think it’s appropriate to flirt with a woman whose husband died less than a week ago. I’m hoping that there aren’t men out there who actually do this.

-Hayley’s worries of people bruising the baby when they touch her baby bump was adorable and shows her naivety as a first time mum-to-be.

-Ken asking for his cursed stone back from Hugh when he returns from the city, only to throw it away when he’s in the background of the shot, was hilarious.

-Dora sighting: At Jim’s funeral and wake.

 

Best one liners:

  • “There goes my kidney!” (Hugh to the family as they are lowering Jim’s coffin into the burial plot)
  • “We lie to others not each other.” (Hugh to Meryl)

Street Smart–Pilot

Street Smart was described in TV Week‘s previews issue as a “hilarious and entertaining look at a team of bumbling crims who dream of fast cars, attractive women and getting rich quick.” I feel like the pilot lived up to most of this description.

When I read that Street Smart is the brainchild of Here Come the Habibs co-creators, Tahir Bilgic and Rob Shehadie, I wondered whether there would be any comedic similarities between the two shows. I did try to avoid making comparisons as I felt it was unfair to do so as this is a completely different show, and I mostly succeeded, however there are two similarities between the shows that are too obvious to be able to ignore: the over-the-top plot and stereotypes.

In regards to the over-the-top plot, this series got off to to a great start with the Street Smart gang’s plan to steal from the confiscated items room of the local police station. The writers’ choice to have the gang try to pull off possibly the biggest and most daring heist any gang, let alone theirs, could do was a good one. It would be too boring to have them start small and work their way up, and we know that their plan will fall apart eventually, finding out how such a big and daring plan will inevitably fail is more interesting to watch.

Despite the fact that they are labelled “Australia’s dumbest criminals”, this episode in many ways proved that while they are clearly not the sharpest knives in the drawer by any means, they are not complete idiots either—-Steve (Bilgic) came up with the plan instantly and while their “uniforms” were never going to fool anyone, the gang managed to start and finish them in one night. I found it hilarious that when they realised that the police believe they are strippers for one of their officer’s retirement party, rather than fight it they embraced it, especially Steve as he is basically abandoning his own plan.

In regards to stereotypes, on a positive note there are not as many present as there were in Here Come the Habibs. This is due to the fact that the premise of Here Come the Habibs mostly revolved around race and racial stereotypes, where as Street Smart revolves around the over-the-top plans of bumbling crims that will inevitably fail. The most obvious stereotype is in the form of Hung’s (Andy Trieu) wife, Trans Phat (Maria Tran), the tough owner of a pork roll and nail business, and constantly asking Hung whether he “understand?” her orders. A minor stereotype is in the form of Joseph (Shehadie), especially his love of manoushs. Ironically despite these stereotypes, this show consists of a multicultural cast.

Despite the over-the-top plot, I did appreciate the tight writing of the episode. Every single character was utilised and all loose ends were tied up neatly. The gang put their plan in motion, saw a scary prisoner (Philip Partridge) on their way in, failed, inadvertently found another way to reach their financial goal, got mugged by the prisoner on the way out who attacked Joseph, who fell through the ceiling trying to sneak into the police station, the gang got their money back by an angry Trans attacking the prisoner, who was angry that Hung lied to her and ignored her, and she was there as the retirement party was the “big party” that she was catering and asked Hung to help her with at the beginning of the episode. I also appreciate the connection between Steve and Joseph, being cousins, as there is a plausible reason why a parking officer and not a police officer would be watching Steve.

The most interesting aspect of the episode for me was the irony that the gang did not actually commit a crime but Joseph ultimately did by breaking into the police station. I wonder whether this kind of outcome will be presented in every episode, while it’s smart writing-wise I can’t help but feel if it happened every time it would bore the viewers. On another note, I felt Tia (Casey Donovan) was under utilised, hopefully she’ll be utilised more as the series progresses. Considering the comedic nature of the show and that this is her first foray into acting, Donovan’s television debut wasn’t bad, her facial expressions were priceless and if she wants to continue down the acting path, some acting lessons for refinement would be a good idea.

Overall, while the plot was a little over-the-top, this pilot was well written and Street Smart shows some potential, I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the season and seeing where it goes.

 

Stray Observations:

-Steve is the leader of the gang, while Hung is the brains, Shane (Dave Eastgate) is the muscle, and Raj (Neel Kolhatkar) is the “wheelman” (Uber driver).

-Sadly Shane is probably not the first person to see a sewing machine and think it’s a Thermomix.

-I wonder how many heterosexual men have their wife’s phone number in their phone with the contact name “boss of me”.

-Considering the fact that the gang pulled an all-nighter and Shane thought the sewing machine was a Thermomix, they actually didn’t do a bad job on their “uniforms”.

-Part of the gang’s police uniforms consisted of plastic handcuffs, pink fluffy handcuffs, and Band-Aid name badges.

-Although we know why Joseph was banned from entering the police station, we don’t know why a four-month ban was given, it’s oddly specific.

Best one liners:

  • “Technically I wasn’t in prison, I was at prison.” (Steve on being at the police station)
  • “I’d like to buy a coffin for my stupid, lazy husband!” (Trans on the phone with White Lady Funerals)
  • “What will I enjoy more…pulling out Hung’s nails before I kill him or after?” (Trans)
  • “We’ve got another gig at Parliament House!” (Steve to the female police officers, making an excuse to leave)