Monday, November 10, 2008

Summer Heights High

It's been one of those Mondays. My brain is still stuck in a weekend stupor and it refuses to catch up. But I'll force it since a new comedy from Australia has reached American cable boxes through the power of HBO called "Summer Heights High". Its creator and star Chris Lilley has been a smash sensation with "Summer" in the land down under. A mocumentary that seems more Christopher Guest than Ricky Gervais in terms of the single camera sitcom, it's like "Little Britain" meets "Waiting for Guffman, with Lilley portraying a variety of characters, such as Mr. G, the drama teacher, Jonah the problematic hyperactive class clown, and Ja'mie, the priviledged popular girl who thinks she's the center of the world. In fact, the main thread that strings these characters together is their amazingly huge ego, which works well if the whole world thinks their nuts, but not if their actions just lay there without retribution.

From Mr. G, who carries on like Corky from "Guffman" without the effete histrionics, and Ja'mie, who is a classier version of Matt Lucas' Vicky Pollard on "Little Britain", it all feels familiar. Although the show isn't a laugh riot, there is something amusing about the humanity of these characters. Lilley's characters are relatable. But there's one problem, I kept falling in and out of asleep during the show. That speaks volumes to me.

Jace over at Televisionary interviewed Chris Lilley. Jace's own review of the show deemed it a must see. Perhaps I'm missing something.

However, the New York Times was frank about the Aussie laffer translating to Americans, bringing up how Larry David can carry off the "monster ego" comedy with flair, whereas "Summer" tends to fall a bit bland on the tongue.

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