SO NICE to see young people having fun in these troubled times even if
they are obliged to grab it where they can. Christopher Searle, a thrusting boy
counsellor in Equal Justice (Ten, Tuesday 8.30pm), took his work to bed with
him. "I've got the weapon, I've got the ballistics report, I've got an
eyewitness," he panted in a transport of delight to the blonde beneath him as he
"Urrr," she groaned in ecstasy. "Tell me about the coroner's report
again."Christopher wasn't even the wacky one. He was the try-hard slime ball.
Briggs was the wacky one, charging the guys five bucks a head to perv on the
hard-nosed sex bomb with a brain, Julie in the next office, as she climbed out
of her going-to-work clothes and into her work clothes for a complete change of
wardrobe and hairstyle. At the D.A.'s office, the baby lawyers are one bunch of
well-dressed zany loons.
The fun, unhappily, was a weak link in this fair-to-middling two-hour
opener. It thrashed about in a positive frenzy of pranks, plot and character
development, whipping up such a lather of action and personality insights that
the anxious viewer keen to spot a resemblance to LA Law, as promised, very
nearly went under.
Then through the foam, as a black choir sang in exultation on the
doorstep, and Mike's case gave way to Joanne's, Joanne's gave way to Andy's,
Christopher took over Andy's, Briggs was beaten up in the washroom by an
outraged father(Ha, ha ha |), then Julie (Ha, ha ha |) and the guys threw lines
at each other like "Hang tight" and "Cool out", something emerged to account for
it all. It was the ghastly spectre of A Cynical Exercise which could doom it to
The brief was plainly to come up with a formula which produced something
as good as LA Law, famed for its plotting, characters and wit, but wasn't LA
Law. So you take this mean District Attorney, right, and you have a caring head
counsellor who will soon be on Mylanta because he is already lock-jawed from
stress, see, you throw in a brilliant senior counsellor who's black and loves
opera (black and loves opera |) and finally, wait for it, a room full of
gorgeous juniors, all potential cult figures, wet behind the ears, brilliant
under pressure but crazy. And what do you end up with?
Pretty well precisely what you end up with in the same time-slot on the
ABC where Capital City (ABC, Tuesday 8.30pm) has discovered the exact formula.
All you have to do is swap the D.A.'s office for a merchant bank, thereby
cashing in on the Wall Street as well as the LA Law factor, and the accents for
Well, do those crazy maverick kids on the trading floor at Shane Longman
have fun | "We're all crazy", says Declan, whose mania takes the form of a
wilful disregard for traffic laws. "Jimmy is dangerous. " Jimmy throws his
telephone into his terminal when he is unhappy about the Deutschemark.
Max, who is almost as wacky as Briggs, wears his hair receding at the
front and in a pony tail at the back and does yoga on his terminal. Michelle,
the hard-nosed sex bomb with a brain, orders crazy sandwiches from Hugo on the
phone and says "I'm sorry I shouted at you yesterday. I just dropped a million
quid" and an extra bawls in a self-service laundry to a girl who steals Max's
car, "I want that piranha fish out of the bath." Laugh? I tried. We all did.
The push for strong characterisation brings us not only Wacky Max, Frankly
Dangerous Jimmy and Brilliant, Charming but Unlucky Declan. There is also Chas
with a heart of gold and Hudson, the simple systems analyst whose wife has run
off in the middle of the night leaving him with the baby whom he brings into the
bank in case the series is short on the Three Men And A Baby factor. Only Wendy
Foley, who heads the team, has no distinguishing traits, but, being over 25,
she could be too old for them.
By substituting youth for substance, and wacky for wit, both Capital City
and Equal Justice miss LA Law's edge and style, but their first episodes weren't
bad viewing. Equal Justice in particular had a couple of strong, if not notably
original, strands which may prove that aiming high and falling short can still
leave you with better than average on a good night.
On the other hand, as in the case of DAAS Kapital (ABC, Monday 9.30pm), it
may prove that it's much better to scrub around anything you've ever seen and
admired that rated and start from scratch. This is a shocker, despite pinching
its characters from The Young Ones.
Maybe the Doug Anthony Allstars, who used to look sort of original on The
Big Gig, didn't mean to. Maybe they just stumbled on the idea of slinging Neil's
peace-loving dope in with Vyv's axe-murdering punk and Rik's Tory coward.
Coincidence is certainly a wondrous thing and plonking them in a submarine so
they can catalogue the universe was a twist: a Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy
sort of twist. But their dominant guts-and-gore motif is no longer startling.
It's not even wacky which at best is a poor apology for funny, and worse, half
an hour is too long for a rambling sketch going nowhere.
The shining light of the whole terrible venture is Paul Livingstone as
Flacco, whose presence was a bit of a puzzle but who can show the rest of them a
thing or two about originality. The audience sounded as if it was having fun
but it was hard not to suspect they were laughing at something silly in the
On Home and Away (Seven, Wednesday 6.30pm) that zany pair Blake and Hayden
were planning a terrific wheeze with the old taking a couple of sheilas for a
drive and running out of petrol scam nudge, nudge. Lots of laughs to look
forward to there for the HAA devotee. I'm not one of them and tuned in at random
hoping for a hook to hold me. There wasn't one.
Guy Pearce, fresh from his film career, has turned up as a nasty, but his
storyline was even less fascinating than whatever is going on between hard
man-on-the-run Revhead and personality girl Karen. Theirs could have been a goer
but they seem to have underlined the wrong words on their scripts so I'm afraid
I gave up on them. Not even Marilyn's promise in the promo for Thursday of
something terrible happening to her in the toilet was enough to lure me back.
Almost the only kids not having any fun on television this week were to be
found in the repeat of Nobody's Children (ABC, Wednesday 8.30pm), unless you
count Sandy who, since this excellent documentary was first shown, has found
happiness in marriage and motherhood, a voice-over told us. She used only to
have prostitution and drugs for laughs.
It would have been a relief to hear that others interviewed had been as
fortunate because the tales of incest, bashings, rapes and exploitation of the
worst sort so graphically told to David Goldie were harrowing beyond measure. We
didn't so we can only imagine the worst.
Goldie is an outstanding documentary-maker, bravely and compassionately
tackling the mess under our carpet. Under the carpet even a small amount of
wacky would be welcome.