Thursday, May 12, 2011

TV: Angry Boys - Episode 1

The ABC welcomes back Chris Lilley with open arms as he launches his newest series, "Angry Boys" in a strong start to what could be another gold creation from one of Australia's most reclusive comedians.

You'll have to forgive me, I haven't seen "We Can Be Heroes" and have only partially seen bits and pieces of "Summer Heights High." So Lilley's comedy is a bit more fresh in it's take in my eyes than those lovers of his previous works.

In tonight's episode we are introduced to the brothers, Dan and Nathan and Ruth "Gran" Sims. Two boys from Dunt in South Australia that harbour an anti-authoritarian attitude and Gran, the prison officer of Sydney Garingal Juvenile Justice Centre for Boys, who harbours an attitude for laying down an unconventional law.

Dan and Nathan are identical twins, with Nathan being on the verge of complete deafness, his brother Dan and him don't get on particularly well which makes their interactions funny. Lilley has a great sense of language used by the youth of today, packing the dialogue with excessive swearing as well as fillers that help capture the mindset most teenagers have.

My issue with Dan and Nathan at the moment is that Dan seems to be overly rude, and it's funny to a point, but there's not a lot of empathy toward his brother's condition - maybe it's how he deals with it, maybe he's just an ass or maybe he's just trying to help his brother put it to the back of his mind. I'll see how this plays out before I make a solid judgement on whether he's just a turd or there are genuine feelings behind his arrogant guise.

Out of the introductions this evening, Ruth "Gran" Sims is the strongest character. Her gags were consistent and funny over the course of the episode, with "Gran's Gotcha's" being mostly heartless but hilarious, the Friday music night also struck the funny bone with the inmates reactions against Gran's bland interpretation of pop music. Gran has got heart, but she's a cow, on the other hand she still cares for the institution, it's inhabitants and the family she's dedicated her life to.

And while her connection to Dan and Nathan as their grandmother wasn't particularly surprising, their jarring attitudes have the potential to change under her wings. Nothing against their parent(s) but Gran's strong will and attitude will be far more effective in guiding these boys through what could be a difficult time in the future.

I'm not sure this would work without the profanities and the jokes that could come across to some as in bad taste. But this is funny because it's defiant to a conventional comedy, there aren't too many restraints - that might explain his expansion into a large spectrum of cultures in the coming episodes. You can set this apart because Lilley's aim isn't squarely at bogan culture now, it's at a collective culture that is universally understood, and if it wasn't before - it probably is now.

My issue so far is it's a pilot, so not much has happened other than a lot of cutaway gags, profanities and some great physical comedy. We were introduced to our characters and their backstories but not much else in terms of establishing an overall arc for the series, but then again, maybe it isn't needed - after all, Lilley's ability to construct funny characters and funny jokes really is quite strong.

Brief thoughts on some of the gags:

  • The superhero pajamas was also a great poke at a little geek culture and Gran's naming of her hamsters was also a strong and giggle worthy joke. I liked the "Superman" spot with none of the logos looking remotely like any of the superheroes we know and the "Spider-Man" suit one of the inmates was wearing at one point.
  • Dan and Nathan's freestyle rap on Youtube was particularly funny in how "it just comes to" Dan as his deaf brother breaks down a beat completely out of time. As far as that goes, I'd like to see some more freestyle rapping.

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