A few laughs hidden among the dumb bits
TAKE the third word off the title of this show and it pretty well sums it up: stupid. As a first- time viewer of this so- called comedy set in the offices of a men’s magazine, I’m surprised it made it through an entire first series, much less into a second, which premieres tonight.
Having said that, it’s not as though the show is entirely without merit. First, it’s an Australian production, and any locally made television show is to be applauded these days.
Second, it’s an Australian comedy, and any attempt to make local comic TV is to be supported.
We are a nation with a sense of humour and a history of funny TV. Norman Gunston still reduces viewers to tears of laughter.
Kath & Kim is wonderful satire and of course the Chaser boys are almost a national institution.
Stupid, Stupid Man also features some fine Australian actors, from Deborah Mailman and Stephen Cur- rie in tonight’s episode to Marcus Graham, Jacqueline McKenzie, Georgie Parker and Terry Serio in later episodes. Regular cast members include Matthew Newton, Leah Vandenberg and Bob Franklin.
Some of the ideas are even funny. Mailman is cast as a white supremacist. Currie plays an angry paraplegic who wreaks havoc, demanding a ramp be built through the middle of the office so he can reach the photocopier. Still the show falls flat, seeming to hark back more to Ted Bullpitt in Kingswood Country than anything more recent and sophisticated.
The magazine the show is set around is called Chaps Own Quarterly or COQ. ( Get it?)
Nick ( Newton) is the features writer who can’t keep his COQ in his pants. He has whispered asides seeking the advice of Dave ( Franklin), who is the magazine’s unshaven and unkempt advice columnist, presumably the last person in the world anyone should seek advice from.
Nick’s attempt to sort it out is to be in bed by 10pm every night or go home. Then there’s the scene in which COQ editor Carl Van Dyke ( Wayne Hope) interviews Chris Dunstall ( Currie) for the job of fashion and grooming writer. It owes much to the Fawlty Towers Don’t mention the war’’ scene, with Van Dyke referring to Dunstall’s wheelchair in every sentence. It could be funny but it isn’t.
Which also sums up the show. It could be funny, it should be funny with the talent and experienced scriptwriter Tim Pye ( Black Jack , Wildside , Fallen Angels , White Collar Blue , SeaChange ) at the helm. But it just isn’t. It’s stupid.
Echoes of Bullpitt: The Chaps Own Quarterly team strain for comedy in Stupid, Stupid Man