Plenty of potential in new comedy
Pattie Pegler thinks real-estate drama has biglaugh potential.
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.