Aside from the obvious–human rights abuse, increase in capitalism, dictatorship or the end of Tim Tam’s–the one thing that would get me up to revolt against the government would be the actual closure of the ABC. It’s always an issue, no matter which party/leader is in power and it’s beginning to feel like it’s just something one side brings up to get people pissed off about the other side. In reality, the ABC is still going strong and so it should, considering it is generally responsible for the best shows Australia has produced (I won’t list them again, if you’re interested refer back to my article on Australian comedy, ah shameless plugs). Not only does the ABC keep pumping these shows out but on top of that, we have the wonderful iView. A streaming service that in my view is the foremost in Australia, all the best ABC shows are kept online for months, even after they have finished airing, there is a huge back catalogue of international shows available for perusal and it’s all free if you are an Australian taxpayer. So when iView began producing original content I was the first to jump at the chance of writing a review.
Sammy J And Randy In Ricketts Lane is a musical comedy that had its full series release on the iView on the 1st of September. The show is set to air on ABC TV in October but why wait when you can watch all six episodes on iView until the 30th of September? Alright, this isn’t an advert, this is a review, so let me continue. If you hadn’t gathered already, the show stars the comic duo of Sammy J and Randy. Sammy J is a musical comedian that has been working with Randy–also a musical comedian and puppet–since 2010. In terms of the show, they play twisted versions of themselves, where Sammy J is the more responsible–although maybe less intelligent one–working at a horrible law firm. While Randy is the cruder, older, divorced moocher working as a full time dole-bludger.
Generally I despise musical television shows, I find the insertion of songs a lazy way of extending the run time but if there is a chance of a joke I stumble back into my hypocritical hole and give the show a chance. So far, only Flight Of The Conchords and The Mighty Boosh have been accepted as examples of good musical comedies but today I am happy to add Sammy J And Randy In Ricketts Lane to that list. Songs can often outstay their welcome in shows like this but fortunately, Sammy J and Randy understand this and have kept the songs to the right length. Some songs are so short that there’s only time for a quick joke and we’re straight back into the story. The other problem musical comedies face is bad music, writers sometimes cut the musical quality for the joke and will pass off a bad song just because it’s funny. Luckily the songs in Ricketts Lane are an exception on this rule, especially the theme song.
I only have two gripes with the show and I will get to them now so that I can continue with the praise. Now, whether it is a concerted decision or not, I don’t know but the show’s name is far too long. Sammy J and Randy must know that people are idiots (including myself) and no one is going to remember a name that long. I often found myself referring to the show as simply “Sammy J And Randy” and sometimes even forgetting Randy (sorry Randy, but of the two I think I could probably take you in a fight) but for the sake of this review I will be calling it “Ricketts Lane”. That is only a small gripe, my second issue is a little more serious, the Wednesday storyline. Wednesday (Georgia Chara) is Sammy J’s personal assistant that has a secret crush on Sammy J. Yep, cliché. This storyline is clichéd right down to the fact that Wednesday wears “ugly girl glasses” and boring clothes in a vain attempt to make her seem less attractive. Of course Sammy J doesn’t notice Wednesday’s unacquainted love for him and hilarity ensues.
While that last sentence may have sounded a little sarcastic, that wasn’t my intention, Ricketts Lane is hilarious. I don’t think I remember literally laughing out loud in an Australian sitcom as much as I did with Ricketts Lane. When Ricketts Lane isn’t filling you with mirth on the forefront, it’s more than proving its place in the background. There is a myriad of understated jokes that makes the show a great candidate for a second view. My favourite example being the sighing alpaca named Kerry, Kerry alpaca, Kerry alpacker, Kerry alPACKER, classic. The show’s spoof of those terrible current affairs programs, Thumbs down is another highlight along with the show’s setting, the 80s. Now I’m still not sure whether I’ve got this right or not but the show seems to be set in the 80s for no discernible reason which I find hilarious. Finally, I’m a sucker for a good theme to episode naming and the theme in Ricketts Lane is Kevin Costner films; The Postman, Field Of Dreams, The Bodyguard, Waterworld, Dances With Wolves and Malibu Hot Summer.
All in all, to give its full name, Sammy J And Randy In Ricketts Lane is a great addition to ABC line-up. If you miss it on iView, I highly recommend giving it a watch on the ABC in October. The show is a beautiful mess of farcical humour, ridiculous songs and explicit puppet nudity. Both the main and recurring cast deliver excellent performances (give Randy a Logie) and the writing is absolutely top notch. Now, I’m off to familarise myself more with the comedy of Sammy J and Randy on YouTube and for some reason I have a real hankering for a ham and cheese focaccia.