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Number 96 (1972–1977)
3/10
From Good Beginnings to Farce
9 January 2008
This series broke new ground. It had regular boob shots and saucy story lines. A bit like those cheeky seaside postcards that the Brits were famous for. The characters were stereotypical and overdrawn, from the whinging pom Alf through to the cod 'foreign accent' of Aldo the shopkeeper and not forgetting the prissy Arnold Feather or linguistically challenged Dorrie Evans.

Never to be taken seriously, this series was a harmless way to spend a bit of time in front of the box. The problems began when the writers began to take it seriously and ever more strained and complicated story lines were introduced and the series ending dying a long, slow and painful death.

If ever there is an opportunity to watch any episodes, avoid any that took up the story after the bombing of the delicatessen. It would have a blessed relief for all concerned if the bomb had removed the entire building with all its characters and not just the one or two that were written out of the series.
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1/10
Dog's Head Bay? More like dog's breakfast.
9 January 2008
David Williamson has a reputation for being a fine Australian script writer. He isn't, but we are not allowed to say that else we be accused of the 'tall poppy syndrome'. This is the defence of mediocre Australians who get their big-heads lopped off when their pretensions are just too over-bearing for the rest of us and we decide that a little humility might be called for.

Williamson has written one or two things that are of mild interest to us 'down-under' but winner of the Booker prize he ain't.

The kindest way of writing about Dog' Head Bay is by assuming that Williamson wrote it at a time the electricity and phone bills were overdue and he had just endured a prolonged quaffing session involving the emptying of several cardboard boxes of Château Yackandandah sparkling non-vintage anti-freeze.

It is badly written, badly produced, and with appalling production values. The tapes of the series, if not already consigned to some other hades, should be put into a container, towed out to sea and used as target practice by the Navy.

Watch only if someone ties you to your armchair and superglues your eyelids open. You have been warned!
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The Box (1974–1977)
1/10
Should have been put in a box and buried in quicklime.
9 January 2008
This appalling show was a response to the Sydney based "No 96", which was a series that in its early days broke some of the old taboos by introducing plot lines with homosexuals, racial discrimination etc but also lots of bare breasts from buxom young 'starlets', none of whom could act. However, that series descended into farce with evermore strained plots and unlikely characters. Hmm! I digress. The Box was typical 70s Australia, bad scripts, bad sets and bad acting. The constant props of pausing to light a cigarette, or pour drink or interruptions by the telephone (always prominently placed so you knew it was going to ring!)only exaggerated its amateurish production values.

Most episodes could guarantee a flash of the boobs from Judy Nunn or some other bit of fluff and thereby guarantee an audience of dirty old men and pubescent boys with onanistic tendencies.

It is interesting to read the bios of those involved and see how many disappeared without trace after this show. Watch it if you must but please remember that it should be regarded for its social history aspects only. If you want something with a dynamic plot and great list of characters, read the phone book.
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The Games (1998–2000)
What started as satire turned into a reality show.
9 January 2008
First of all let me declare that I am a John Clarke fan and the man has maintained a level of consistency in satire and irony that has not been equalled in Australia or New Zealand. Many in the US would not understand this brand of humour but I accept that we only see the dross coming out of the United States and we miss out out on many of the fine programs that PBS televises. PBS programmes support the argument that there is a discerning audience somewhere in that country. I think he lives Connecticut.

This program started as a satire but as others have noted, was so close to the truth that it could be mistaken for being an actual documentary. It depicts with cruel accuracy the incompetence, back-stabbing and utter corruption of many of the bureaucrats involved in Australia's running of the 2000 Olympic Games as they scrambled up the ratlines in vainglorious pursuit. Incidentally, and by way of salute, those games were to be declared, at the Closing Ceremony, to be the best ever and this was almost entirely due to the contributions of tens of thousands of volunteers who freely gave their time to ensure that everything worked as it should.

The dry, witty script delivered in flawless fashion by Clarke perfectly supported by Dawes and Riley, should have, and did, hold up the mirror so that our politicians, the bureaucrats, the Sydney Olympic Committee and the IOC, could see themselves for what they were.

Unfortunately, the program dealt with a specific event in time and therefore will age quickly but it should be used as learning tool for anyone wanting to learn the scriptwriting art or as an example of understated satire that has all the subtlety of a stiletto.
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Skyways (1979–1981)
1/10
What were they doing!?
9 January 2008
I caught an episode of this woeful series during an early morning bout of insomnia. It was excruciating to see such appalling acting involving lines that must have been written by someone with a third grade education and delivered by 'actors' (and I use the term in its loosest possible sense) who were so bad they were embarrassing. People say that Australia used to produce some fine television series but I am afraid that the memory is playing tricks. We produced excrement and this is a prime example. It makes "Plan 9 From Outer Space" look professional.

Purportedly about the loves, lives and intrigues of the personnel of an airline, the closest it comes to getting off the ground is the repeated stock footage of an aircraft taking off each time there is a pause for a commercial break. All other scenes are in a studio and involve sets that are as cheap as they are unconvincing. Judging by the number of episodes that were made, we Australians prove once again that we will watch the most abysmal rubbish simply because it is Australian!
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