Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Tough on Those Offspring...

Every once in a while there'll be a slump in the television shows on. You know what it's like; every time you switch on the television there's some stupid reality show about cops training dogs to sniff people's luggage at airports, or aspiring chefs trying to impress a panel of fat, overpaid foodies with their ridiculously sculpted creations not nourishing enough to keep even a small child from starvation. (Don't get me wrong. Masterchef is a lot better than many of the television shows out there, and at least it's creative and constructive, but ten minutes of it makes me want to go to sleep. Although I suppose it's better than making me want to stuff my face...) Naturally, you find yourself going back to more old-fashioned forms of entertainment; for me, that's often reading book after book inbetween schoolwork. Making a serious dent in your To-Read list is great, but there are times when television is indispensable as a way of just unwinding.

That's where Offspring comes in. Last night, here in Australia, a new drama series aired on Channel 10 which I think has a lot of potential. After a myriad of fairly average grunge-city cop shows and the gritty Underbelly, it's a relief to finally see a more down-to-earth drama series produced in Australia....

Offspring is the story of thirty-something nurse Nina (played by Asher Keddie), whose crazy family and ex-husband with a penchant for blowing things up (specifically Nina's things) makes her life something of a minefield. Add to that the hot new paediatrician working at the hospital (Don Hany) who she just can't seem to pluck up the courage to ask out, and Nina's life seems to be one constant mess of family and love-related tangles. Offspring is a sort of Packed to the Rafters meets Grey's Anatomy show, more intimate than a lot of the hospital dramas which are imported from America and a bit classier and more upmarket than the suburban chick of Australia's recent export about the Rafters family. At times the sleek perfection of almost all the sets in Offspring got me down, although having visited Melbourne, where the show is set, I'd have to say that a lot of the fancy cafes that Nina and her family visit are probably not too exaggerated and fancy.

Chris (Don Hany) and Nina (Asher Keddie)

The characters are almost instantly lovable; particularly Cherie, played excellently by Deborah Mailman, new mother and former nurse. Mailman creates an intensely loveable character, a wide-eyed and friendly woman determined to face up to her situation as a single mother. Also amoung my favourites is Mick (Eddie Perfect), Nina's sister Billie's barefoot, keyboard-playing ex-boyfriend, who's in love with Billie but who can't seem to stop arguing with the love of his life. Kat Stewart as Billie is as sharp as a knife but still reveals enough inner insecurity to make her likeable.

Cherie (Deborah Mailman)

As for Nina herself, she's a female character who will doubtless appeal to many women. She's easy to sympathise with, as we watch her agonising attempts to gain the attention of the gorgeous Chris, her new colleague, and I think most women will find a lot to identify with in Nina. Her confusing relationship with explosives expert Brendan proves just how bad relationships can be when a woman marries a man who she knows so very little about.

Offspring's costumes are to die for, the sets are detailed and realistic, and the acting is probably some of the best on Australian television; certainly the best I've seen in a long time. It's not a show that will speak to everybody, but I have a feeling Offspring is set to make quite an impact in the next few months.

Billie (Kat Stewart), Nina's brother Jimmy (Richard Davies) and Nina (Asher Keddie)

Offspring airs every Sunday night on Channel 10 at 8:30 pm.

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