Bush Boys Feral In Melbourne
Green Guide; Switch on TV
25 November 1993
Thursday Boys from the Bush, Channel 7, 8.30pm THIS Australian/British comedy series should have been a marketing coup because, as the lead characters would probably say, it has a bob/buck each way. It has an English and Australian lead and spells in both countries; thus two local audiences. But in spite of Boys from the Bush having had a reasonable reception in Britain, Channel 7 has not had the courage to run this 1990 production until now.
It really didn’t deserve that fate, for although it is hardly ground- breaking comedy, it does have two good comic characters in the soccer- mad (QPR) pommy slob Reg (Tim Healy from Auf Weidersehn Pet), who hates Melbourne and yearns for the Bush (Shepherds in London), and Dennis Tontine (a great performance from Chris Haywood), the unctuous and manically unsuccessful conman from the local bush.
These likely lads met in the dole office and decided to set up Melbourne Confidential, which specialises in introductions, insurance investigations, security and snooping in general. It has shades of Minder on Brunswick Street, and the style and humor in the show is in a similar streetwise and two-bit loser vein. Reg lives in a land of formica and chrome furniture and ’50s weatherboards – ostensibly Sunshine – while Dennis plays slave to a femme fatale (Gia Carides) in his rundown bachelor single-fronter in Port Melbourne.
The first episode starts in a rather cliched fashion, with the heroes coming in for attention from the police, who are, in turn, being watched by a Greek/Asian gang, but Dennis and Reg soon take charge.
There are troublesome platypuses, lovelorn farmers from Boggy Boggy Creek, an itinerant Filipino bride and Reg’s missus, Doris (Pat Thompson), who is playing more than bowls for Hawthorn, as well as his wimpy jetlagged nephew Lesley (Mark Haddigan), who is being pursued by Reg’s dullard daughter Arlene (Nadine Garner).
The eye of the outsider has focused on and made humor from, outrageously aggressive talkback hosts, Sunshine and suburbia in general, brothels, multiculturalism and much more. It is not just about ocker bashing, for Reg is hardly a fine representative of the mother country and is in for a shock when he returns to the much- yearned-for God’s own domain of Shepherds Bush. It is wryly ideologically unsound, unpretentious comedy, which should be good for laughs during the silly season.