This isn’t to say that the first episode was terrible, it just didn’t live up to the hype generated by his previous track record. It also didn’t feature a great deal of laughs.
However, I was holding out for the second, and maybe the third to make any more sweeping judgements. And let me get this clear- I really want to like this series, as I’m sure everyone else does, however, you have to continually judge it as a standalone show, not in the manner of “How good is Lilley’s latest masterpiece?”
For starters, the character s.Mouse is possibly one of the worst creations in the history of Australian comedy. And not “worst” as in, “Oh, isn’t J’amie terrible!” kind of way. I don’t like saying it, believe me, but the idea of an African American rapper who needs to get his career back on track isn’t remotely appealing to me, nor do I think it would be to any other Australian. If it is, feel free to prove me wrong.
Once again, I feel it helps to reiterate what was so great about the previous two series; he managed to capture a unique style of humour, a distinctly Australian one with Australian characters. Even J’amie, who many might say was a Mean Girls-type clone, had a uniquely Australian flavour.
The reason for s.Mouse’s inclusion in the series seems to be primarily to appeal to American audiences (by sheer virtue of the fact that he is an African American)… and of course, it is yet another excuse for Lilley to go nuts and fill up the swear-jar ten times over. But it’s not just swearing, we get some “poos”, some “bitches” and whatever else you can think of.
And I better just qualify something again; I don’t take issue with the sheer volume of swearing a scatological references- “Puck you, miss”, while not necessarily a swear-word, is one of the genuinely funny parts of Summer Heights High. I take issue with the fact that Lilley seems to just be hammering these words from week to week (first with the Sims brothers, now with s.Mouse).
So, am I missing something here? Is there another layer to the character that would make him seem all that more hilarious?
The ultimate test would be, to imagine the s.Mouse character as a sketch performed on Ben Elton’s Live From Planet Earth, a short-lived show that endured an absolute bollocking in every medium known to man. Once everyone had made their minds up; that this was an old has-been trotting out clichéd stereotypes, people delighted in savaging every part of the show (for the record, I disliked it, barring a few OK elements).
Now, imagine Ben Elton running out on stage (this is a Channel Nine show, mind you), in a Chris Lilley blackface-type set-up. He reads from exactly the same script as Lilley has written, etc.
Now, what would everyone think? What would you think? Funny now?
Oh, but it’s Chris Lilley who makes the character is it? Well not even he could salvage this one.
In fairness, it seems that many people on Twitter expressed sentiments to the tune of the character not doing anything for them, with some even being daring enough to admit it didn’t make them laugh.
But once again, tell me what made you laugh- if anything- about the character. Was it the “Slap My Elbow” song? Oh, ’cause it emphasises how ridiculous rapper and rap-music is… And?
But please, let me know.
But once again, the saving grace was once again Gran, a character that many have expressed favour for. She/he really is a unique character, tough love is the only way she knows, yet her (strangely) blokey demeanour allows her to rib the inmates, to often hilarious results (ie. “Gran’s Gotchas” in Episode 1).
However, I once again express my distaste for the fact that Lilley feels the need to shoe-horn a heartfelt moment in at the end. In this case, it was Gran sharing a motherly moment with a dog-wanker inmate (yes, HA!). I guess it would have been a satisfying resolution to the episode’s vague plot, yet given the lack of laughs in the first half of the episode, it would have been nice to balance it with a few more in the second.