School. We've all been there. At least I hope we have anyway... The strange thing is that the further we drift from our school years the more our fondness for that period of our lives grows. We pop on a pair of rose-tinted glasses and smile thinking about all the silly stuff we got up too.
For example; what's the very first thing you think of when I say, "your school years"? I bet you have a goofy grin on your face right now as you think back.
Now I don't care who you are - or were - I guarantee your college years weren't always smooth sailing. It's an awkward time and school can be a tough environment to navigate for a million different intensely personal reasons. But you don't generally think about the negatives first.
It's a pleasing quirk of humanity that we apply a happily hazy, sepia-toned filter to those old school day memories. Even if it takes a decade or so for it to start working that way.
Even though I now look back on that time with a healthy mixture of fondness and cringe you couldn't pay me enough to go back. Some people, however, like school enough to never leave. And no, they're not called "crazy". They're called teachers. Although for me the term is interchangeable.
If it's true the children are the future, then teachers are the Sherpas guiding that future up the treacherous mountain of adolescence. A lot of people have that one teacher that believed in them, seeing otherwise hidden potential and encouraging them to foster that talent, skill or aptitude and changing a young life for the better. The teachers in TVNZ OnDemand's local comedy Educators are not like that. They're more what I imagine I'd be like as a teacher; mostly useless and quite crabby.
I mean, how could you not be? You're surrounded by teenagers eight hours a day, 40 days a week. Imagine it. Work? Hell, more like. If I can paraphrase for a second; you do have to be crazy to work there, but I doubt it helps.
With everything going on a school is a ripe ground for comedy and Educators is incredibly funny. It's humour is so black that if it stepped foot in a classroom it would be sent to the guidance counsellor immediately.
The lives of these bad teachers - and they are all bad teachers - have a lot going on. One's homeless, one's pregnant to one of the other ones, one's wracked with paranoia and on a self-help kick, one has multiple personality disorder and another has an almost superhuman inability to stop bullying one of the kids he finds particularly irritating.
On top of all that the school, which is purposefully generic, now finds itself under the watchful eye of an auditor whose attempts to silently observe and stay "invisible" quickly prove futile.
At first glance the show, which is streaming now, has the feel of a mockumentary like The Office, with its dour intro music and dull colour palette. And while it's undoubtedly an influence the pretence of "filming a documentary" has been expelled here. Instead it blends in the loosey-goosey improvisational unscripted format popularised by Larry David's brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm.
It's a risky style to adopt as actors need to be good enough to propel the snippets of plot they're given while also being reactive and open to any situation that pops up while constantly remembering to be, ya know, funny.
Educators pass the test here with flying colours. Although you could say it's a bit of a gimme as the cast is filled with the boffins of our local comedy and acting world. We're talking Jackie van Beek, Jonny Brugh, Kura Forrester, Tom Sainsbury and Josh Thomson.
That right there should see you rushing to enrol. And while it may breach the terms and conditions of my New Zealandness, for which I humbly apologise, I have to say that the show's breakout performance is from Australian actor Rick Donald. He plays Vinnie, the seething bully of a PE teacher with an anger issue that's all inexplicably directed towards Jaden, a completely harmless student.
His scenes constantly get the biggest laughs, whether describing the complete rage Jaden stirs in him, failing miserably, and angrily, to clear the air between them before the auditor gets a chance to question the lad or trying to apologise through gritted teeth to Jaden's mum after being summoned to a meeting in the principal's office about his behaviour to the boy.
Vinnie is a terrible, terrible bully and the source of many terrible, terrible laugh out loud moments.
But really, the whole cast is top of the class. Educators may be set in school but its hilariously bleak humour is strictly adults-only. Its final grade is an easy A. And while it needs to improve its bad attitude I sincerely hope it doesn't.