Plenty of po­ten­tial in new com­edy

Pat­tie Pe­gler thinks real-es­tate drama has biglaugh po­ten­tial.

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When I was look­ing to buy my first home in Lon­don I saw count­less shoe­box hov­els in my price range. In­clud­ing one that was so crammed full of rub­bish it could only be viewed through the win­dows. A four-lane mo­tor­way soared above the back garden. It was de­scribed as ‘‘full of po­ten­tial’’ with ‘‘con­ve­nient trans­port links’’.

It’s prob­a­bly that kind of sales blather that makes real es­tate agents so uni­ver­sally un­pop­u­lar. But I’ve al­ways thought it’s an in­dus­try where there’s a rich comic seam to be mined. New Kiwi com­edy Agent Anna (Thurs­days, 8.30pm, TV One) sets out to do just that.

Anna Kingston, nicely played by Robyn Mal­colm, had a pretty good life. But then her hus­band ran off to Aus­tralia leav­ing her with huge debts and two teenage daugh­ters. There’s only one thing for it – she has to get a job. ‘‘When all else fails you can al­ways sell real es­tate’’ says the trailer, and that’s what she does.

She gears her­self up for this new ca­reer by lis­ten­ing to a mo­ti­va­tional CD churn­ing out such gems as ‘‘Ev­ery day is the first day of your new life’’. She pins up lit­tle no­tices be­hind her desk that say things like ‘‘Success dosen’t [sic] come to you – you go to it’’. They made me chuckle, th­ese nicely ob­served de­tails.

Her col­leagues at Eden Realty in­clude Leon Cruick­shank (Adam Gar­diner), who’s ex­actly the type of per­son I imag­ine when I think of a real es­tate agent. He’s ar­ro­gant, ut­terly with­out scru­ples and full of mar­ket­ing speak about ‘‘Asian in­va­sion’’ strate­gies. Sandi (Theresa Healey) is a hard­nosed, ca­reer woman with ab­surdly high heels and a slight age-re­lated chip on her shoul­der.

In the midst of all this is Anna her­self. She puts me in mind of a mid­dle-aged Brid­get Jones – try­ing to be pleas­ant, but hor­ri­bly awk­ward and phys­i­cally clumsy.

But she’s also a bit of a door­mat. Leon dupes her out of a client and she does noth­ing. Her teenage daugh­ters are sullen and spoilt and she just puts up with it. Her former friends are hor­ri­bly rude snobs.

It makes Anna seem so down­trod­den that she verges on ir­ri­tat­ing. I wanted her to scratch smug Leon’s Audi, tell her daugh­ters to stop be­ing such un­grate­ful lit­tle brats and pee on her friends’ lawns. OK, prob­a­bly not that last one. That would be weird. But you get my gist.

So is it funny? Well, it made me smile a cou­ple of times but it didn’t make me laugh out loud.

The idea is good, the characters have po­ten­tial and I did like the lit­tle touches like Leon’s ‘‘4LPHA’’ num­ber plate.

But the di­a­logue didn’t really seem to hit its stride in this first episode, with clunky ex­changes like this when Anna meets Sandi:

‘‘We haven’t met, I’m Anna Kingston . . .’’

‘‘Yeah, and I’m really pissed off.’’

It’s not ter­ri­ble, but, like an un­der­achiev­ing agent, it cer­tainly hasn’t yet reached its full po­ten­tial.

Agent Anna: The idea is good but the first episode has some clunky di­a­logue.

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