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The Sydney Morning Herald

tv previews

Author: Michael Idato
Date: 22/03/2010
Words: 571
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: The Guide
Page: 6
Home and Away

Seven, 7pm

Like an unseasonal spring in autumn, it feels like everything old is new again as one of this long-running drama's most-loved characters, Marilyn Chambers, screeches back into Summer Bay - quite literally, with her foot on the brakes of her car and a swerve worthy of The Cannonball Run.

Emily Symons hasn't lost an ounce of the rhythm of her daffy, infectious alter ego, with a hug for Alf (Ray Meagher) and an awkward handshake for Colleen (Lyn Collingwood), a lovely nod to the fact that many moons ago Colleen's son Lance and Marilyn were an item. All of that charming madness is wrapped in the swaddling cloth of a mystery - the bloodied figure on the road who caused Marilyn to swerve in the first place turns out to be the brother of Aden (Todd Lasance) and the brothers spend most of the episode in an awkward exchange that is played with lovely depth, particularly by Lasance.

The parallel storyline - Gina (Sonia Todd) dealing with a rebellious and possessive Xavier (David Jones-Roberts) - is a little rickety alongside it, largely because Jones-Roberts delivers his lines with that tilt of the head and pout of the lip that we remember so well from a certain Fast Forward sketch. Home and Away is still lean and fit after so many years for a number of reasons but key among them is its ability to creatively and usefully harness its long history, legacy characters and genuinely robust performances from the show's leads, particularly (in this episode) Axle Whitehead and Todd.

No small achievement when you consider it also breaches the two tenets of contemporary performance: actors should never have to act with small mobile phones and pensive exchanges cannot sustain gravitas when performed in thongs and board shorts.


SBS One, 10pm

The second half of a gob-smacking, uncomfortably funny double episode in which Adam (Adam Zwar), Sarah (Cindy Waddingham) and Wilfred (Jason Gann) head up to Queensland to spend some time with her family.

Problem No.1: Sarah's mum and dad, Peg (Maureen Sherlock) and Phil (Jim Daly), are nudists of the uncomfortably overexposed variety. Problem No.2: Wilfred's dad, Arthur (David Field), is still alive and is, to couch it in polite terms, a cranky, unlikeable son of a bitch. Literally.

The writing is much stronger in this second series and while there are still moments where the edges fray, there is little doubt this is one of the funniest comedies on Australian TV.

The dynamics of the Adam-Wilfred relationship benefit from Zwar and Gann's chemistry but there is something so wholly raw about Gann's performance in particular. It's difficult to take your eyes off him.

The Big Bang Theory

Nine, 8pm

To stay or go out - that is the question. Not one that great inquiring minds might ask, as Sheldon (Jim Parsons) seems content to stay home and reinstall all his operating systems, while Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) go out with their girlfriends. (Real girlfriends, they marvel, as opposed to fake ones.)

But that leaves Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) at something of a loss and he convinces Sheldon to accompany him to a party as his "wing man". As the double date descends into farce - Penny (Kaley Cuoco) admits she's getting career advice from a psychic, much to Leonard's disdain - the Sheldon-Koothrappali double act looks like it's having some unexpected success.

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