The Last Resort

All sorts of format problems plague Nine's dull reality series with an unlikeable cast.

If you took Seven Year Switch, Temptation Island, Australia’s Perfect Couple and Married at First Sight and threw them into a blender, you might end up with something like The Last Resort -but at least it would be more watchable than the dross Nine is serving up this week.

Instead we have 52 minutes of television (70 with ads) that is a severe case of TV executives trying to second-guess what viewers and online recappers are looking for.

Take 5 Caucasian couples, predominantly aged in their 30s and struggling in their relationships, and whisk them off to a Fijian resort for 3 weeks the scrutiny of Reality TV cameras and two experts. At the end of it all they will have to decide if they want to stay together or not.

“It’s the perfect place to help struggling couples rekindle their love,” insists psychologist Sandy Rea (The Verdict).

But it’s not readily clear on whose authority TV can order married couples to split, which is just one of several problems here…

This sluggish format, in which just about everybody sits down talking for the entire 52 minutes, is poorly cast and poorly executed.

The cast comprise cheaters, liars, drinkers, and couples in sexless marriages.

The biggest problem is that we struggle to feel any sympathy for the 5 couples, some of whom are more interested in discussing who has fake boobs than realising their own shortcomings.

When the couples land on the island they must make their own way to the resort. What seems like an Amazing Race attempt to capture couples-conflict, goes nowhere fast, other than to show us lovely shots of the location presumably as part of the ‘Government of Fiji’ credit visible at the end.

Profiles of the 5 couples reveal all kinds of relationship issues surrounding fidelity, commitment, passion and honesty. No question, this bunch are hardly role models. Most are married, several have children.

Bizarrely, after hearing their backstories we are subjected to a lengthy ‘group therapy’ with our experts in which the 5 then re-state their problems before one another. This could have been much more effective if the information hadn’t been divulged earlier. In the hands of producers it is largely-designed to capture shocked reactions. Suddenly tarnished couples are making judgements about other tarnished couples -except we as audience have already lumbered them in the one sorry pit together.

In a 7:30 timeslot you’ll hear some surprising terminology (M classification is allowable at 7:30pm):

“You want a root?”
“I just saw boobs”
“Of course I’m horny, it’s been over a year”

Even relationship expert Michael Myerscough contributes: “Angry people are not horny people.” Thanks for that.

As an added bonus there’s also a hefty slice of bogan dialogue, manspreading and upward inflections.

“Sharday’s the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Here come Barbie and Ken.”
“It’s real and it’s just going to get more realer.”
“You just gotta try and move on from it, ay?”
“This is why we’re here I s’pose.”

The mandatory dinner party that has become a cliche of this genre expands on backstories and judgements, in an effort to ignite couples rivalry. Like so many constructs of this premise, we’ve seen it all before.

In fairness, there was a moment with one male participant where I managed to belatedly empathise, which I won’t divulge as it’s probably a spoiler. But alas, not enough to want to see how it plays out.

After 52 minutes of talking heads and excruciating pacing, came a teaser for the next episode, in which partners bizarrely undertake fake marriages to different partners. Like that’s going to help? Seriously, how do TV psychologists expect us to ever turn to relationship counselling again?

The two biggest problems with this show are in the casting of cookie cutter couples who look like they have just stepped out of Seven Year Itch / The Block / Married At First Sight and a format lacking anything unique or creative. At least it lives up to its title, but not in the way it was intended.

Why should we care about these people? Why should we give anybody on camera any credit other than a desire to appear on camera? Why are experts ready to annul marriages on the basis of Reality TV challenges? And why do we have to be subjected to it twice a week?

Back in 2004 TEN filmed a renovation show called The Resort on a Fijian island but axed it after six weeks due to low ratings. These days that would be a hit.

The Last Resort airs 7:30pm Tuesday and Wednesday on Nine.

26 Responses

  1. David, I couldn’t agree more with your review. I’ve seen the promos, and shuddered, and I watched the first episode because I was too lazy to get up to change channels, whilst working on the computer! That was enough for me – what a load of crap! How those psychologists can look their colleagues in the eye in the future I don’t know – I’d be too ashamed if I was in their place! Crass people, crass production – I hope it bombs!I am so fed up with networks making reality shows as Australian content, instead of putting the money spent into proper drama and comedy shows – thank God for Foxtel!

  2. Super scathing review. My friend was on this show and she reckons those experts were great and helped a lot. She said it was nothing like that switch show so I don’t know why people keep saying it is. I missed the online episode but I’ll be watching tonight. Too bad if you all have to eat your words I guess.

  3. The whole first episode was on 9Now a few days ago. My girlfriend was watching it and we both got hooked. We’ve had some probs in our relationship so I’m keen to know how those expert help. Hanging out for the next episode. How come you didn’t know it was online David? Don’t you follow that sort of thing?

  4. Well, put me on a Fijian island for three weeks with my significant other and I’d be happy as a pig in mud. I’m guessing that wouldn’t work work for Channel 9. I hope this pathetic excuse for television backfires on 9 in a spectacular way. One more thing. How do we take Sandy Rae seriously as a psychologist when she sat there like a stun mullet in the infamous white jacket-gate. That video really showed up her short-comings.

  5. The promos sucked me in so I watched ep 1 online. I thought it was great – exact opposite to your thoughts David. Yes some of them are unlikeable. But I thought some were funny too. Found myself laughing out loud a number of times.

  6. Taking a lofty ideal of helping people with their marriages is one thing. But these issues should be private. As soon as you put the couples together, and encourage disloyalty by disclosing their problems and faults so that the others can judge them, all is lost. You are actually damaging the relationships further.

    These producers should look at “Making Couples Happy” if they genuinely want to help people. Otherwise, these contestants are just cannon fodder.

      1. I’m taking your word for it, 100%. I’m not interested. This one just screams of producers wanting couples to cheat on one another rather than save anything. With the decline in trashy mags there has to be something in its place.

  7. Yet another reason to ditch free to air and pay for Netflix etc. No wonder Australia downloads Torrents still, and somehow Foxtel make a living for the millions they charge. Tripe like this is what in years to come will send Freeview broke. Gone are the days those in TV created TV, now it’s tossers with a cheap idea that sells to the network and expect a million viewers or it’s axed, but that’s OK as another poor idea is on it’s way.

    Great review, saves me necking myself later after I accidentally watch it 🙂

  8. They’re happy to show complete crap like this in Primetime at 7:30 but then shaft their quality dramas like LoveChild till 9pm. Switch them around I say. Put Love child in at 7:30 and play this rubbish late into the night.

  9. I can’t help feeling that the free-to-air networks are actively trying to repel viewers. This type of stuff is absolute carp – a waste of all the resources that produced it. Are they trying to push us online to their catch-up/preview sites or are they trying to force us to pay for access to any semblance of quality TV? There are still some gems to be had, but they are thinning out.

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