Mr. Black is the future father-in-law from hell.
Cranky in his 48 years of age battling ankylosing spondylitis, Mr. Black (Stephen Curry) is slowly losing strength in his bones. While he may have the same disease as Michael Slater (his words) and use an electric scooter for transport, “It doesn’t stop me from punching an arsehole in the neck.” Ouch.
But the very agreeable Fin (Nick Russell), who is dating Angela Black (Sophie Wright), would rather borrow a leaf from Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”
Fin is an ad copywriter prone to shirts that are floral or proclaiming “The Future is Female,” avocado cupcakes and sitting down on the loo to pee. That’s new age?
All of this riles Mr. Black who constantly tests him on his manhood, given he is dating his only daughter. But you get the feeling everything would aggravate him or provide an opportunity for an argument.
The premise sees Mr. Black move in with the couple, spending his time pranking, prodding and quizzing Fin on everything from general knowledge trivia to drinking beer over Pinot Noir. He justifies it all by claims he wants the best for his daughter. Fin cops a lot of it until he attempts to meet him toe to toe in some mad, male competition.
In the middle of this tug of war is Angela who blindly laughs off her father’s eccentricities without adequate defence of her partner. If she wants Dad to like her new bloke, you’d hardly know it.
Stephen Curry, wrapped in a bad ’80s leather jacket, revels in this anti-hero role, marvellously matched by Nick Russell (Winners & Losers, Neighbours, Utopia) as the hapless Fin. The two form the bulk of the premise by writer Adam Zwar (Lowdown, Wilfred, Agony) with a script that ripples from awkward humour rather than laugh-out-loud jokes. To be clear, that’s a positive, not a negative.
In supporting roles are Nadine Garner as the estranged Mrs. Black, at last playing closer to her actual age than the dowdy Jean Blake on The Doctor Blake Mysteries. Garner brings a spring to her step as Mrs B. endeavours to settle her divorce. Actor Paul Denny serves as Curry’s pal Malcolm.
It’s hard not to see the 48 year old Black behaving as 68 merely by virtue of his declining health, and Angela’s fence-sitting is somewhat frustrating. But these points aside, Mr. Black is a promising new addition that riffs on a classic Odd Couple dynamic. If Wilfred was an angry bloke in a dogsuit, Mr Black is similar in an electric motor scooter. Zwar clearly likes such triangles in his work.
Give this one a shot, we have so few comedies on commercial TV it may just tweak your funny bone.
Mr Black airs 8:40pm Tuesday on 10.