The only really surprising thing about Agent Anna (tonight, TV One, 8.30pm) is that it took so long for somebody to make a comedy about Auckland's overheated real estate market. Bad luck for our real estate agent mate that the day after she emailed me to say, hey, she'd had a really good idea for a telly series about real estate agents, the imminent arrival of Agent Anna was announced. (What a terrible title; it sounds like a series about a schizo CIA agent starring, possibly, a good-looking but mad-as-a-cut-snake blonde sheila. Oh. We've already seen that one.)
As it happens, our real estate agent mate is blonde, like Anna - she sold our house recently and became a mate although everybody said, "You can't be friends with a real estate agent," in tones which suggested we'd become chums with a mass murderer.
Our friend is also - how to put this - a bit cuckoo in an endearing way, and fortunately she endeared a large number of people to come to our auction and also go a bit cuckoo. The episode on day one of our relationship whereby she dropped the keys down a crack in the deck the width of a 10c piece (no, we have no idea how, and neither does she) has long been forgotten. Almost.
Anyway, you could make a telly series about this sort of stuff and somebody has. Its star is Robyn Malcolm - who I think may have been married to a real estate agent - which is possibly why it's just a little snarky about real estate agents. But they are ripe pickings, regardless. Everybody hates them because they are widely held to be wolves and rogues. This is possibly why we like ours so much: they make journalists appear almost loveable by comparison. As does Anna.
She is a bit of a sad-sack who has to get a job after her swinish husband runs off leaving her with two kids, his debts and a mortgagee sale. She and the kids have to move into the downstairs of her parents' house; she has a nag of a mother and a long-suffering father.
She listens to a really annoying American intoning the 12 Steps to Success CD in the car. She eventually throws the CD out the window, but not before I longed to do it for her. She has - or had; they seemed to have dumped her now she's down on her luck - really ghastly rich friends. This is a bit of a bum note. If she's so nice, how is it that she used to hang out with that rotten lot? She's a bit of a flake.
In her first week on the job, she manages to lose some keys down a crack in a deck the width of 10c piece. Oh no, hang on, that was that other blonde real estate agent who, as far as I know, has never managed to post her cellphone inside somebody's letterbox while distributing those annoying leaflets - "Now is the time to sell your house! Call me! No obligation!" Nor, again as far as I know, has she, upon attempting to retrieve the phone, got her arm stuck in said letterbox, while her mother twitters away on the other end of the phone which is still inside.
So, yes, there are ripe pickings for an old-fashioned slapstick screwball comedy and Malcolm is very good at slapstick and screwball. She's such a compellingly watchable actor that you could follow her in almost anything (although she is almost upstaged by Theresa Healey's hatchet-faced, stiletto-heeled bitch of an agent).
Presumably this will follow the usual arc: From loser dumped wife and hopeless agent to agent of the year, with some love interest along the way. Although let's hope it's a little more surprising than the tedious obsession with Auckland house prices. For now it's a rather sweet, giggly little blonde number with not a lot of substance, but who cares? It's obvious Malcolm is having a lot of fun. And it's about real estate agents.
What a good idea.