Tis a spa better thing to skip the first show
The Dame Edna Treatment 7.30pm, Nine
LET me declare from the outset that I am an unabashed, unafraid, out and proud Edna- bopper. I have howled my way through live performances, I’ve caught gladioli and waved them in the required floral semaphore ( though, to this day, I have not been victimised on her stage), and I’ve cacked my way through television shows such as An Audience With . . . ( Dame Edna Everage) ( 1980) and The Dame Edna Experience ( 1987).
I marvelled from afar when in 2000, and more triumphantly in 2004, Edna appeared on Broadway, and I cheered when she appeared in the fifth season of Ally McBeal playing Claire Otoms ( an anagram of ‘‘ a sitcom role’’), first as a client, then as a secretary at Cage, Fish & Associates. And let’s not leave out the innumerable appearances on Parkinson , The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and even the ABC’s Spicks and Specks, where last year she sang with the generally unsung Adam Hills.
And now the dear old dame has her own health spa in The Dame Edna Treatment. So how is it? Well, fellow Edna- boppers, I’m sorry to be the bearer of sad news, but this is not the Dame’s funniest or finest hour.
Sensing perhaps that the original first episode is practically a disaster that could sink the series, Nine has dumped us right into the middle of things, showing episode six first, never a terrific omen. But when compared with the tragic original first episode, tonight, possums, Edna is on fire. Where the original pilot’s debut guest Sigourney Weaver got swamped in Edna’s first- night nerves ( unthinkable!), tonight Alan Alda is allowed to speak and says enough to engage the comic improvisational genius of Edna’s alter ego Barry Humphries.
When Alda tells a relatively long anecdote about developing a bowel obstruction while on top of a mountain, Edna leaps in to talk about her support for husband Norm’s prostate problem, which led to her involvement in prostate charities.
‘‘ I started a prostate movement,’’ she deadpans. ‘‘ Did you ever think of starting a bowel movement, Alan?’’
This visceral talk is fuelled by the fact that we are in a treatment facility, Spa Edna. Thankfully, the tedious crossing back and forth to the likes of Patrick Stewart in a flotation tank in the original first episode seems to have been all but excised.
And Warney? ‘‘ Lots of sports stars do let themselves go when they retire, but not you, Shane.’’ Beat. ‘‘ Because you were never in great shape to begin with.’’ Ah, Edna. You’ve got it still.
Gladioli all over: Barry Humphries in form as Dame Edna Everage