• First Review: Wind in the Willows

    Non-fans of Matt Lucas stop reading right now. In the famed role of Toad from Toad Hall, Lucas’ performance positively swamps this treatment of the classic story by Kenneth Grahame. But as a bald-headed, rotund amphibian there is nary an actor of note more suitable. He chews up the scenery as Toad, to the point […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Satisfaction

    It’s no secret that nearly all of the best TV drama these days happens on Pay-TV. Whether it’s HBO (The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Oz, Sex and the City), Showtime (Dexter, Weeds, Californication) or Foxtel’s Love My Way in Australia. But while our best is hidden on top tier packaging, it seems you can only […]

    Read more
  • First Review: High School Musical 2

    The opening song of the original High School Musical was snuck under the radar via a karaoke scene. It was as if the producers wanted to gently ease the teenage audience into an unfamilar genre. Now the show is a big, fat hit High School Musical 2 is bursting with confidence. I’ll admit I hated […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Cane, Journeyman, Psych

    Three new US dramas are about to be unveiled by Network TEN. The first of these, Cane, premieres tonight. Jimmy Smits is the head of a sprawling Cuban-American family in the deep south of Florida. Dubbed as “an Hispanic Dallas” his clan run a rum and sugar business. It all sounds like a coffee-coloured version […]

    Read more
  • First Review: East West 101

    Roll up your sleeves Australia, there’s another cop show on the way. But unlike the smooth, designer settings of inner city Melbourne in Seven’s City Homicide, it’s a very gritty blue-collar world in SBS’ Sydney-shot East West 101. This 6-part series isn’t afraid to tackle stories from the streets. The opening episode depicts two young […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Don’t Forget the Lyrics

    Part of TEN’s summer schedule, FOX’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics is essentially The Singing Bee meets Millionaire. More game show than spelling bee it offers US$1m in a ladder of rising scale dollar prizes. Contestants are offered ten musical genre categories each with alternative songs. Once they choose a song a band strikes up and […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Rampant

    The theme for the 1983 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade was ‘On our way to Freedom’. Two years later it was ‘Fighting for our Lives’. The HIV virus was here. The press release for Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague boldly promises the story of how “poofters, junkies and whores contained the […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Gossip Girl

    “You’ve never looked more beautiful and thin and happy than you do now,” says Eleanor Waldorf to Blair. Eleanor, in case you haven’t read the Gossip Girl books by Cecily von Ziegesar, is the mother of Blair, a well-to-do young teen girl living on the Upper East Side of New York. It’s a charmless exchange […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Dexter

    December 2 is the first day of TV’s silly season, so I’m getting in nice and early –which is just as well because you will need to install Pay TV to enjoy the pleasures of Dexter, a gloriously twisted, serial-killer drama launching on Foxtel’s newest channel, Showcase. And the pleasures are many, beginning with Michael […]

    Read more
  • First Review: The Book That Shook The World

    We’re in the middle of a climate of religious groups seeking to influence our airwaves. The Festival of Light has claimed victory over a review of Californication by the Australian Media and Communications Authority. And Hillsong is supposedly pulling the strings behind Australian Idol’s finalists. So have we really come much further than in 1971 […]

    Read more
  • First Review: The Librarians

    Despite losing Kath and Kim to Seven and adjusting to the axing of The Glass House, ABC comedies have never enjoyed such fervour. The Chaser, Summer Heights High and Spicks and Specks have given the commercial networks a regular Thursday morning migraine. But they haven’t come without cost. Controversial content has also attracted their share […]

    Read more
  • First Review: Viva Laughlin

    First, a confession. I don’t remember a lot of the finer points of Blackpool, the original BBC series on which Viva Laughlin is based. It screened here on the ABC. Which is all the more embarrassing when I admit I am very partial to a great musical. I do remember the original as being bright, […]

    Read more