Derry Girls

I’ve sped through two 6 episode seasons of Derry Girls and loved every minute. Set in Londonderry in the 1990s when Northern Ireland was experiencing the “Troubles” a time of military occupation and bombings by the IRA, Derry Girls focuses on a tight knit group of teenage girls growing up amidst violence. In spite of all this we see Erin Quinn and her friends and family dealing with taking exams, the goody-two shoes at school, mothers, the fragility of a friendship.

Writer Lisa McGee is adept at weaving stories together and taking her audience on a funny and meaningful tour of teenage Ireland. I commend her for the funniest laundry joke I’ve ever seen and for adeptly mixing hilarity and pathos. She protects no sacred cows. Now there is a lot of swearing, so you’ve been warned.

Each actor superb and as an ensemble they produce delight from start to finish. There is no weak link in this cast.

I can’t wait for Season 4.

Derry Girls is available on Netflix and www.meilju22.com.

Moone Boy

moone_boy

My new favorite comedy is Moone Boy created by Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy. In this Irish sitcom import, Martin Moone (David Rawles) is a twelve year old with a full grown imaginary friend named Sean. Martin lives with his shambolic family, which consists of his father who runs a sign shop, his mother who becomes Weight Wishers counselor and three older sisters who don’t like Martin at all.

Martin needs someone in his corner and Sean helps him navigate the slings and arrows of school, romance, and family life. Set in 1989-90s, Moone Boy reminds me of The Wonder Years. It’s got wit and heart. The acting, particularly Martin’s performance, is natural and the pace is brisk. Each episode, available on Hulu.coma and PBS in some areas, wrings the most from every story. In the two seasons I’ve seen every episode delights.

The Goldbergs

the-goldbergs

When Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Jeff Garlin” href=”http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0307531/” target=”_blank” rel=”imdb”>Jeff Garlin announced he was doing a sitcom that was an improv 1980’s version of The Wonder Years, I was excited. However having watched the premier, I’m disappointed. The show doesn’t live up to the promise.

With a grouchy dad, jaded older sister, an annoying brother and a bright likeable middle school boy, family structure is like The Wonder Years. However, other than the nostalgic voice over and the family structure, The Goldbergs doesn’t compare to The Wonder Years, which isn’t a surprise because the 80’s doesn’t compare well to the 60’s. No Vietnam, no hippies, no Haight Ashbury, no Woodstock. If you’re going to dramatize the ’80’s, you need to make the characters less ordinary. This comedy seemed so canned and predictable. It’s jokes were tired and the story was weak. I felt a bit sorry for the actors, but then I remembered they’re paid a fortune and I’m not.

Also, it seems the writers just don’t understand new comedy. They’re need to watch Outnumbered, and watch it repeatedly so they see what’s possible. Studying Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Simpson’s wouldn’t hurt either. I suppose if a friend mentioned that the show really improves and the pilot’s an anomaly, I’d give this another try. The Goldbergs might work if it centered around the father as someone who grew up in the 60s and realizes how pale the 80s were in comparison. Well, that would work for me ~ if the writing were better.

Review: Exporting Raymond

If cross-cultural endeavors interest you or if you’re an Everybody Loves Raymond fan, Exporting Raymond should tickle your funny bone. The documentary Exporting Raymond follows executive producer Phil Rosenthal to Moscow as he consults with the Russian team that plans to bring this down-to-earth American sitcom to an audience that loves over-the-top comedy, like the Russian versions of The Nanny or Married with Children.

Rosenthal’s witty and approachable. I empathized with him as he tried to convince the intense looking costume designer that Debra shouldn’t be dressed in white cashmere when she’s spent the day cleaning This formidable woman wouldn’t hear of it. Style was everything in her book. When Rosenthal tried to figure out whether his driver really was in the hospital or whether he was lying and just on vacation, I smiled with recognition. Yep, one never knows what the real story is, just roll with it, Phil.

I found it all fascinating from the grim, decrepit studios to the stone faced execs — all very telling. I liked the documentary so much I watched the special features and deleted scenes. As a special feature they include two episodes of Raymond and two of Everybody Loves Kostya. which I found even more interesting than the American version. Go figure.

I’m not sure if this would translate to China, probably not, but I could see a Korean version of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Karen Says the Darndest Things

Not your typical flower girl, is she? Karen of Outnumbered.

Regarding the “Ulika” reference, this was on YouTube as a comment:

Ulrika Jonsson has had quite a lot of relationships and is seen as a bit of a slag…so by seemingly comparing Julie to Ulrika, Pete & Sue were calling her a slag.

Outnumbered

Cast of Outnumbered

The most hilarious, smart sitcom I’ve seen in a long time is the BBC’s Outnumbered. Each week the parents Pete and Sue valiantly try to survive the chaos inherent in raising precocious children: Jake, Ben and Karen. The plots are loose and the dialog brilliant. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm, much of the dialog is improvised, which is probably why what the kids say seems so real, unlike the average show where the jokes are clearly written by 27 year olds and mouthed by 7 year olds.

I’ve just seen six episodes and the main thread is that the father, a secondary school history teacher, bumbles his way around the disaster he created by making a joke at the expense of one of his heavier students. Sue is a stay at home mom, who’s often overwhelmed, but never comes across as the nincompoop say the mom in Modern Family can be. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because Sue’s smart kids often do have a good point when they argue, whereas the Modern Family kids are clearly reading from a script.

A few realistic, serious problems are woven into the series. Pete’s worried that Jake is a victim of bullying. The issue’s handled better than it would be on many sitcoms. Like in real life, Pete tries to open lines of communication, Jake denies there’s a problem. Then at the end of an episode, once you believe Jake, you see him washing his hands and his forearms are badly bruised. Another issue is caring for an elderly parent in decline. Sue has been the local go-to person for her father while her sister galavants. The sister returns and the relationship is rocky. Sue’s glad for the relief, yet has to hide her jealousy that Angela, her sister succeeds with the father – at first. So as in real life competing feelings exist in one person.

The dialog is brilliant. Take a look:

[youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRhIZCDk0Eo%5D

Karen with a nurse