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The Age

From happiness to hard labor

Author: Brian Courtis
Date: 30/11/2001
Words: 694
          Publication: The Age
Section: Today
Page: 1
THERE is nothing quite like soap for a migraine. At this time of year you can almost guarantee that separating the Brads from the Waynes and Hayleys while working out whether they're about to make passionate infidelity, marry or be exiled in Brisbane for an endofseries cliffhanger will bring one on.

Despite this seasonal hazard, soaps are really around to make you feel that somewhere there are people with bigger problems than you have. Lives roll before you in waves of exhilaration and doldrums of banality throughout the year, only to explode just before Christmas in a tidal wave of melodrama.

Weddings, the traditional way to keep us happy for the summer break, seem to be currently out of fashion. In Summer Bay, anyway. Perhaps there's nobody of a suitable age left to marry off? Anyway, giving birth in as complicated a way as possible is apparently the way to go right now.

In Home And Away (Seven, 7pm), I take complications as a norm. I know that if I miss an episode or two, there will have been yet another new mysterious arrival cloned to confuse.

So who is fathering these teen heroes? Why do they all look the same? Will any of them grow up to be like Alf or Fisher? Whatever happened to Dannii Minogue, Heath Ledger, Julian McMahon, Melissa George and Cornelia Francis? Oh dear, I feel the head throbbing again...

Back to tonight's cliffhanger. Babies are coming home to roost. For Leah (Ada Nicodemou) and husband Vinnie (Ryan Kwanten), it's been a smooth run until now. For Gypsy (Kimberley Cooper) and her man Will (Zac Drayson), it's been a little more traumatic. Lots of pushing and yelling. Why should it change?

The fellas hang around, trying to look suitably awed and fatherly. You know, awkward. Nobody goes out looking for the bowl of boiling water anymore. ``I'm an actor," said Ted Danson in Three Men And A Baby. ``I can do a father." What a pity he wasn't around for this episode.

Well, of course, it never ends happily ever after in Home And Away. One of the babies is about to discover he has been called VJ, presumably in celebration of some early model Holden. And one of the babies is about to enter the world on a deserted country road. And then, as if that weren't enough, there is an arresting finale.

There is a little more fun to be had in My Hero (ABC, 8pm), a British sitcom that stars Ardal O'Hanlon, the Irish comic actor who proved to be the master of the blank look and dumb thought when he played trainee priest Dougal in Father Ted.

This time, O'Hanlon finds himself in a show that may remind some of the old Robin Williams' comedy series Mork And Mindy. He plays Thermoman, a worldsaving superhero who turns into a mildmannered though romantic Irish health store proprietor when he takes off the bike helmet and red tights.

This gentle, unlikely hero falls for the awfully nice English nurse Janet (Emily Joyce), having rescued her from a holiday fall in the Grand Canyon. She works in a clinic with a doctor more concerned about his image than patients. ``Doctor, I'm afraid an ill person wants to see you," warns his grouchy receptionist.

When Janet, who will clearly be very much the ``straight guy" in this show, invites Thermoman home, he also meets her neighbor Tyler, an old 1960s hippie burnt out on acid and other exotic trips. Thermoman tells Janet he was on Mars and Jupiter in the '60s. Worryingly, Tyler seems to recognise him.

Today's Pick

After all the excitement, it's great to see the yawn put back into Test cricket again. Will they manage to keep it up for the third Test? Take in the final session of the first day from the WACA in Perth and check out whether Richie Benaud, Tony Greig, Mark Taylor and Simon O'Donnell can keep you awake.

Full program: T8

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