Tripping Over: articles

Daniel MacPherson

Offensively attractive: Daniel MacPherson.

It's ours, it's good, for my sake watch it

I HAVE been watching the progress of new Australian drama Tripping Over with some interest. Not least because every article written over its launch period has mentioned Last Man Standing - a show I spent a considerable period of time writing* - accompanied by words like "failed series" "disappointing", "death of Australian drama", "that - Marieke - Hardy - should - go - try - her - luck - tap - dancing - or - something - similar - before - foisting - her - half - baked - notions - on - an - unsuspecting - audience - in - future" etc. It's never easy reliving the roller-coaster ride of launching a drama series, particularly when you've crossed pretty much every digit that the new one will at least keep its head above water for the six weeks it's to be on air.

Thankfully, I think Tripping Over is pretty good. The cast are offensively attractive. I'm looking at you Mr Off-The-Rails Gay (Leon Ockenden); feel free to forward your phone number to my editor. It is shot on film and looks magnificent, and there's a consistent attempt to show off new music.

Not so thankfully, fewer and fewer people seem to be tuning in each week. Why is this so? What does CSI Insert-Sexy-Location-Here have that Tripping Over doesn't? What is it going to take for Australian viewers to stand up on their desks Dead Poets Society-style and make a case for home-grown drama?

Love My Way has been heralded for some time as the saving face of Australian television, but anyone without Foxtel might have struggled to catch an episode. Hands up how many of you have noddingly accepted Karvan and co as the reigning team of Australian teev without actually catching so much as 15 minutes? Not to say that LMW isn't high quality of course; it is beautifully handled and makes compelling viewing. But there's plenty of rich and chocolatey goodness directly under our commercial television noses, if only we'd care to sit down for an hour or so each week and look.

Tripping Over is a shining example of what should work, and lord help me I'm going to tell you why and you are going to sit there and listen until I'm done and then we may have a nice cup of tea.

1. It has Rebecca Gibney. She's been a forensic psychiatrist, she's been Queen of the Outback, she's ill-advisedly appeared on an episode of Acropolis Now as someone called "Mrs Spiro Strangulator". She's even been a real-life rock wife like Nicole Kidman. In the privacy of their living rooms everyone I know refers to her as "Gibbo", whether they've had the pleasure of getting shickered with her or not, and in Tripping Over she's going all-out boho gesticulation and glass smashing. Come on, who doesn't want to see Gibbo "giving it" some Mirka Mora? You do, that's who.

2. It has Lisa McCune. Australians have made it quite clear they don't much fancy Lisa McCune on their television sets doing anything but being nice. Vampy cabaret star? No thank you. Bryce Courtenay's nudie muse? Gracious no. Coles advertisements and longing glances at Martin Sacks? Where do we sign?

Tripping Over is not only peppered with shots of McCune looking demurely tight-lipped and pensive, she is also almost constantly decked out in sensible slacks and a cleanly pressed cream shirt. The Logie just won itself, people.

3. It has some rather dry in-jokery.Ex-soap star and beefcake heart-throb Daniel Macpherson has taken on quite the task of playing an ex-soap star and beefcake heart-throb, and seems gamely up for taking the absolute mickey out of his entire career and everything he has worked towards up 'til now. I for one applaud his lack of dignity, though feel strangely uncomfortable seeing him naked on the toilet.

4. It is global. Hey! One minute we're in Bangkok, now we're in Covent Garden, look out there's the Opera House. OK, so I spent the first two episodes irritating everyone in my living room by going "wait, so are we in London or Thailand?" "Who's that lady related to?" "Why is the guy from Withnail and I in Sydney and the UK simultaneously?" but you get used to it eventually.

5. It has not featured any horses so far but that's not to say that it won't ever.Fans of Mcleod's, you may yet be catered for. Rest easy.

6. It's Australian.And yes, while I'm aware how mind-numbingly and obscenely patriotic it must be to tune into something for the sole reason that it features passing shots of Sydney and a few token colloquialisms, if Tripping Over falls short of network expectations then the next Australian drama will have an even tougher go of it. And the one after that, and the one after that. Until there'll be nothing left but 800 repeats of Hotdogs' Cash Bonanza For Potheads, or whatever that late-night atrocity is called, while we'll forget that local television ever existed. And what a tragedy that would be, particularly for a lowly screenwriter like me. Give, that I may continue living in the manner to which I am accustomed, for god's sake.

  • This is the point where you say with a gasp of recognition: "Oh! No wonder I have been finding this columnist so mindlessly irritating/richly comedic and off-the-cuff/hidden in hard-to-reach timeslots."

By Marieke Hardy
November 16, 2006
The Age