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The Age

CRITIC'S VIEW - Friday, October 27

Date: 26/10/2006
Words: 815
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 22
CRITIC'S VIEW REVIEWS: Home and Away; Veronica Mars; The Kumars at No 42: Christmas Special; The Up-Late Game Show

Home and Away, Channel Seven, 7pm

The contract we enter into when we commit to viewing Home & Away with un-jaded eyes is to suspend our everyday understanding of the way teenage boys think and accept the honourable manner in which they behave in Summer Bay. Matilda (Indiana Evans) is ready and willing to give Ric (Mark Furze) what she thinks he wants. It's a big step for a pretty young girl, yet she's mentally prepared to go all the way. But, lo, it's not sex Ric is angling for. He cares too much about her, about them. "You've got to be ready ... I don't want to rush things with us" he tells her, making her flinch with embarrassment, humbled by his nobility. Any other boy would have told her that after the deed, then given her a fake mobile number. We also thank Home & Away for keeping alive such Aussier-than-Aussie expressions as "town bike", used here in relation to the behaviour of Belle, played by a young actress called Jessica Tovey who appears to be benefiting from the remarkable resemblance of her cheekbones and lip lines to those of Mischa Barton, formerly of The O.C. and now a spruiker for Famous magazine.

Veronica Mars, Channel Ten, 10.45pm

Look deep into the eyes of amateur sleuth Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) and it's not the soul of TV's leading teenage minx you see but two small, hard black marbles. These have to be the most beguiling peepers on television. Are they enigmatic and penetrating, or merely inexpressive? They not only run counter to the standard-issue set of doe-eyes usually attached to the here-today, gone-later-today starlets who pass through the voracious pop-cultural digestive tract like day-old vindaloo, they also belie the spunk and sass of the one girl on TV most likely to be caught prowling through shrubbery wearing fishnets and holding a camera with a telephoto lens the size of a rocket launcher. Eager to pick up an easy $2000, Veronica takes a case from under the nose of her detective father (Enrico Colantoni) and begins investigating the secret activities of a man who might be cheating on his wife-to-be. This results in the usual grab-bag of plot-driven fun that again showcases Veronica's casual mastery of the everyday high-tech so emblematic of Gen-Y feather-rufflers. The show is replete with USB sticks, digital photo uplinks, clicking screen icons, talk of browser histories, email files and the unfolding of computer tablets once they are pulled from handbags as though they were address books. Speaking to her huge appeal as a leading character, Veronica - to the credit of her creators - remains the only female tele-teen with a high IQ and an unforced air of sexual self-awareness. She's happy to vamp it up for the sake of information, flirting outrageously in Jessica Simpson-esque boots and denim skirt, proving again how there's nothing sexier than a smart girl playing airhead in the quest for information that could crack a case. Another memorable moment has Veronica being told by her dad that she should work harder at the Jabba the Hut pizza palace if she wants more spending money. Her golden response, delivered in Veronica's wonderfully dry narration: "The only way I'd ever make two grand in a week working at the Hut is if they installed a pole." In a televisual landscape littered with lifeless teenage drones, lines like that read like poetry.

The Kumars at No 42: Christmas Special, ABC, 10.05pm

Sanjeev and his family of soft-centred upper middle-class Indian stereotypes chat to singer Phil Collins and Anne Robinson, who hosts the British version of The Weakest Link. The humour is tired and repetitive. The end credits reveal the show hails from 2004. The Christmas message is loud and clear: this joke is over.

The Up-Late Game Show, Channel Ten, around midnight

Sometimes when I wake up after dozing off in front of the TV, I find myself staring at The Up-Late Game Show in a haze of semi-consciousness wondering about the conversation former Big Brother housemate Simon Deering (aka Hotdogs) must have had with fellow former BB housemate Rob Rigley before becoming co-host.

"Mate, don't be nervous. Just keep the energy up."

"But what if I can't think of anything to say?"

"Just bounce off me. Don't worry, I'll feed you."

"So, I just let my naturally breezy personality flow into the camera, yeah?"

"That's the trick. And do lots of hand gestures. Jump around a bit if you can. We've got 90 minutes of airtime to kill."

"Simon, am I a TV star now? Or do people still think of me as that homosexual hairdresser from Sydney desperately hanging on to the last second of his 15 minutes?"

"Mate, forget that. You're doing a great job. And this is great television. Just follow my lead."

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