Tickle me, Elmo, this has got me hooked

Most of the in­trigues of love are played out by the quirky pairs

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Ian Cuth­bert­son

Men in Trees 10.30pm, Nine

SUM­MER television pro­grams are like hol­i­day ro­mances. You know you could fall in love but you don’t want your heart bro­ken, so you can’t let your­self get at­tached. Alas, for me and Men in Trees, i t’ s prob­a­bly al­ready too late.

So, what’ s to love? Well, Alaska, for a kick- off, though the show is filmed in Canada, cut oc­ca­sion­ally with stock scenes of the low, snow­cov­ered peaks of the cold­est US state. Still, the out­door scenes of real snow, real log cab­ins and real wilder­ness are breath­tak­ing.

Men in Trees has been de­scribed as North­ern Ex­po­sure meets Sex and the City , but it is more en­gag­ing than ei­ther. It has more warmth, bet­ter char­ac­ters and more hu­mour than North­ern Ex­po­sure , and while it has a good deal of sex, it doesn’ t have the neu­rotic un­der­tow, the feel of women car­ry­ing on like a bunch of pro­mis­cu­ous gay men, that was so ap­par­ent in Sex and the City .

The com­par­i­son is apt, though, not least be­cause of the in­volve­ment of se­ries cre­ator Jenny Bicks, who wrote

Sex and the City . for

Men in Trees is Bicks’ s baby, and she has set a sure- footed di­rec­tion. The show wants to be as much about the co­nun­drums of love as the hard­ships of sex, about wis­dom more than self­ish­ness, greed and ma­nip­u­la­tion. It’ s no ac­ci­dent then that her pro­tag­o­nist Marin Frist ( Anne Heche) is a re­la­tion­ship coun­sel­lor, a psy­chol­o­gist who dis­cov­ers Elmo, Alaska, on a book tour when things have fallen apart in her re­la­tion­ship back in New York and de­cides to stay.

That men out­num­ber women in Elmo by a fac­tor of 10 to one and that most of the men seem to be girl­crazy, ruggedly phys­i­cal yet ro­man­tic in­di­vid­u­als may have had some­thing to do with her de­ci­sion.

Marin’ s for­mer lover Jack ( James Tup­per), who is now en­gaged to some­one else, is still about town and hav­ing as much dif­fi­culty let­ting go of Marin as she ap­pears to be hav­ing in let­ting go of him, which does not do a lot for his new part­ner.

In fact, most of the in­trigues of love, from de­nial to wist­ful re­gret, are played out by the quirky pairs here.

Men But the killer at­trac­tion about in Trees is its hu­mour.

Tonight, Marin’s great New York friend Jane ( Seana Ko­foed), who has also fled New York for Elmo, drags her­self out of her husky boyfriend’s arms in the mid­dle of the night to help out when the poor dear has an un­for­tu­nate en­counter with a bat in the out­house of her new log cabin.

Clutch­ing each other like Ethel and Lucy, the two shoul­der calamity as only the best comic pairs can.

Seek­ing wis­dom in Alaska:

Anne Heche in Men in Trees

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