You Aren’t the Only One Who’s Sick of TV’s Same Old Shows

At last! A TV critic who says what we’ve all been thinking for way too long:  Every new show we welcome with glorious hopes turns out to be something we’ve seen before. “And,” to quote the last sentence in this refreshingly honest review, “in a world where there are hundreds of channels with thousands of options, that just doesn’t cut it.”

Thanks for being so honest, Michael Idato. TVWriter™ loves you, man:

800 wordsTV Preview: 800 WORDS all looks very familiar
by Michael Idato

Logically, explains Erik Thomson? in the opening scenes of the new drama series 800 Words(Seven, Tuesday, 7.30pm) the best place to start the story of a new beginning is at the beginning. This of course makes perfect sense. Much as the incontrovertible logic that the best place to start reviewing most new television programs is with the television off.

The risk is that if you sit in front of the television for too long, you start to see the same shows spin through the revolving door, just with different names. 800 Words, which launches with much promise, is on thin ice in that regard.

This is the story of a widower, George Turner (Erik Thomson), who decides to take his bruised family back to the New Zealand holiday home of his earlier life. If it seems familiar, that’s probably because it is. Maybe you saw SeaChange. Or Everwood. It’s a well-worn concept.

What elevates any show from the pack though – Sex and the City, for example, above Cashmere Mafia or Lipstick Jungle – is often the intangible. And casting. In that sense, Thomson is a safe bet, a much-loved figure in TV drama. His easy manner and sense of authenticity enhances 800 Words, even if the writing undermines him while he’s trying to serve it.

The weakness is that 800 Words plays too much like a TV show. So we have expositional dialogue overload, wry one-liners, and unnecessarily antagonistic exchanges of the kind you only ever hear in television conversations. There’s also an annoying daughter, Shay (Melina Vidler?), who is so snidely unhelpful you are left, after an hour, less surprised that Erik Thomson packed his bags and changed countries, and more that he bothered to take her with him….

Read it all at The Sydney Morning Herald