Dave is the pick of the bunch in TEN’s Pilot Week.
Written by and starring Dave O’Neil, it adheres to a traditional single-cam sitcom with O’Neil’s ‘loveable loser’ persona all over it.
O’Neil plays himself as a sometimes-working comedian struggling to provide for his young family, always on the fringes of fame.
Recognised at school drop-off or the local milk bar, but never by anybody hiring him for stand-up work (“Hey you’re not Dave Hughes”), O’Neil cops it all glumly without ever rocking the boat. But disaster is all around him.
In the pilot episode O’Neil is asked to find a celebrity for the school fete auction and calls upon pal Glenn Robbins to help out. Robbins agrees so long as O’Neil writes him some gags for an upcoming Q&A appearance. Yes, there are lots of industry and real-world references, which is part of the attraction.
But first there is a gig to do at a sports club which fails to go as planned, and one of the better scenes sees Robbins and O’Neil trying to fend off a selfie-loving cook (Geraldine Hickey) who wants him to repeat ‘the Kel-walk.’ If this goes to series Robbins is a must-have, please.
Emily Taheny plays Dave’s obsessive-compulsive wife, as part of a frazzled but authentic domestic life. Even the kids (Mariah Cini & Kieran Cochrane) are good value.
The humour is low-key, much like its leading man, and it sometimes falls in-between the punchlines but works to warm effect. The supporting cast, including Dave Thornton, Christine Keogh, Justin Rosniak and Dilruk Jayasinha gel like clockwork, and if their acting level is better than the leading man then Jerry Seinfeld has reasons to show why it doesn’t really matter. Watch out for cameos from Dave Hughes and Brendan Fevola. Who’s next? Warnie? Judith Lucy? Chrissie Swan? Pete Smith?
This kind of territory isn’t especially new (Whatever Happened to That Guy?) but Ben Plazzer’s direction together with O’Neil’s script captures a try-hard view of the vagaries of the Melbourne comedy fringe that is entirely charming.
Dave airs 8:30pm Friday on TEN.