Life at the Lodge

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Movies - TIM MARTAIN At Home with Ju­lia, ABC1, Wed, 9.30pm

SATIRIS­ING our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers is usu­ally the stuff of sketch com­edy.

But a new ABC1 se­ries start­ing this week takes this form of po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary one step fur­ther with a four-part com­edy se­ries ded­i­cated to Prime Min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard.

Called At Home with Ju­lia, the se­ries is a send-up of life be­hind the scenes for Gil­lard and part­ner Tim Mathieson.

Four 30-minute episodes may seem like a short run but with this show’s mer­ci­less par­ody of an in­cum­bent PM’s pri­vate life and the in­clu­sion of a few other prom­i­nent faces as well, it may well be lucky to sur­vive to the end of its brief sea­son without de­mands from some sec­tors that it be axed.

ABC has not re­leased any early pre­views of the se­ries for re­view, in­stead re­ly­ing on a twominute trailer to start tongues wag­ging. So whether the se­ries has much to con­trib­ute, apart from sim­ple silli­ness, is yet to be seen, but that wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be so bad.

After all, is there any bet­ter ev­i­dence of the true free­dom of ex­pres­sion we en­joy in Aus­tralia than the ex­is­tence of this kind of satire on free-to-air tele­vi­sion?

Amanda Bishop stars as Ju­lia, with an im­per­son­ation that is spook­ily good. Be­yond sim­ply copy­ing the PM’s hair and wardrobe, Bishop per­fectly mim­ics Gil­lard’s pos­ture, walk, voice, speech pat­terns and even fa­cial ex­pres­sions. Play­ing Gil­lard’s hair­dresser boyfriend, Tim, is Phil Lloyd ( both pic­tured), best known for Re­view with Myles Bar­low.

In this se­ries, Tim is the butt of a string of ‘‘ kept man’’ gags that play up the un­usual gen­der/ power bal­ance in their re­la­tion­ship: She is the na­tion’s leader with a busy life and pub­lic pro­file, while he is the lower-earner who’s pin­ing to be mar­ried.

Buy­ing meat for a ‘‘ spe­cial oc­ca­sion’’, Tim is asked by the butcher if it is for a wed­ding an­niver­sary. A vis­i­bly crest­fallen Tim replies: ‘‘ No. . .’’

Sto­ry­lines in­clude Ju­lia promis­ing to make it up to Tim for al­ways miss­ing ‘‘ date night’’, a ter­ror­ism scare when Ju­lia fails to turn up for one of Tim’s hair­dress­ing events, Ju­lia con­fronting Kevin Rudd ( Paul McCarthy) over his con­stant leak­ing, and even an ap­pear­ance by the PM on ABC’s Q& A.

Will it be clever satire or cruel par­ody? Will it be in­sight­ful or dis­re­spect­ful? Will it be re­ceived with good hu­mour or be pil­lo­ried?

One thing is for sure: At least it looks funny.

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