TV Review: Outrageous Fortune

By Frances Grant

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The bogan heroes are back and covered in glory. Outrageous Fortune returned last night (TV3, 9.30pm), bagging a clutch of gongs from the latest New Zealand film and television awards.

TV3 wasn't going to let this one go without blowing a few trumpets about being the home of that all too rare thing, a successful Kiwi telly drama. Campbell Live shamelessly plugged the show with an interview with star Robyn Malcolm on Monday night and there was more on breakfast show Sunrise.

And the confidence was clear, as the show launched into its fourth season last night, with the West family and their cohorts rougher round the edges than ever.

Those counting down for the first Raunchy Sex Scene, didn't have to wait long. But it did look like the action was going to be a little thin, when the next RSS was a flashback from last season.

Fortunately, the show desisted from visiting Pascalle and her new, geriatric American husband in the bedroom. But, knowing its penchant for portraying Westie life in the raw, this could be only a matter of time. This is not a drama which lets us off the hook-up.

Best actress winner Malcolm, who plays the mother hen in hooker's clothing, Cheryl West, sums up the show's appeal as confirmation that, "It's okay to show your builder's crack".

It's that colourful free-spiritedness and laughter in the face of nicety which is its strength and the source of some of its best lines, such as Grandpa's comment, "She wouldn't know a crime if it goosed her on the growler".

So it's a shame that the dialogue is groaning under the weight of all the f-words. Yes, the script is striving to reflect how some people really talk but the problem with loads of expletives in drama is that they're not very expressive. It would be a relief if now the show has earned its laurels, it didn't try so hard to recreate its bogan world. It's distracting wondering how much time it takes to make sure Cheryl's roots are always showing, or just how many bad, busy wallpapers and other kitsch items you can feature in one set.

And let's hope there's now the confidence for the characters to move beyond stereotypes of thugs, rough diamonds, uptight middle-class bastards or slappers with a heart of gold.

The storylines, too, try hard to be outrageous, such as Loretta selling her baby to the wealthier, but equally stereotypical folks in the city. This was not so much gripping as predictable.

Meanwhile, matriarch Cheryl is so embattled and shrewish you just hope things will lighten up. After all, with its stock characters battling a sea of troubles and temptation, Outrageous Fortune is at its laidback best when it ditches the heavy stuff and simply plays it for laughs.

- NZ Herald

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