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Yeah it's cheap. Yeah it's low brow. Yeah the acting often seems incidental (accidental?). But this is about the most inventive and funny Aus' comedy series in quite a while.
The most obvious thing everyone looks at is the budget/production values, or lack thereof. It's clearly filmed on a shoestring (hey, it's from SBS and there's stuff happening outdoors! What else could we expect). Part of the shoestring comes across in the acting, or lack thereof. 'Less than amateur' is a good description. But beyond that there's some serious comedy talent on display in the writing and the way the whole thing is put together. It's infectious, it really is. The situation, if you can call it that, takes place in a small time pizza store run by the aggressive and occasionally violent Bobo and generally revolves around the bizarre adventures of his two no-hoper delivery guys; Pauly and Sleek. Pauly is a nervous bloke, plagued by bad luck and quick to blame most things on "anti-chocko sentiments" (that's; an irrational prejudice against Mediterranean peoples, Arabs and anyone darker). He get's stuck in generally horrendous situations on a regular basis and it's a point of pride that he survives them. It runs in the family you see (Hitler got started down his final solution path after a road rage session with his grandfather, adapting the well known wog 'up yours' into that famous salute. If that's not nicely twisted race comedy I don't know what is). Sleek 'the Elite' fancies himself as a Lebanese rapper and lothario cruises around on the phone to his large extended family. He generally has all the sexy adventures and there must be some clause in some contract that says he is to be naked or at least stripped down to his jocks in every episode. The core ladies are Bobo's interfering Mama (always calling him from her palatial Italian mansion, where she appears to spend most of her time in bed listening to Dean Martin); various characters played by Tania Zaetta and Annalise Braakensiek as model 'Claudia MacPherson' who, aging, bitchy and vapid, tries to get on the cover of magazines and into society pages for living, sometimes moonlighting as a 'TV presenter' (read: lightly dressed, general purpose crumpet the networks seems to have a limitless supply of). Then they have a supporting cast that consists of....well, everyone! Australian television history is on display in the cameos for this thing. Cop Shop, A Country Practice, Kingswood Country (which was pretty much Australia's version of 'Till Death Do Us Part' or 'All In The Family', depending on where you're from), as well as dozens of contemporary comedians, presenters, sports identities etc. Even someone like writer Bob Ellis shows up playing the Prime Minister! Everyone wants to be on Pizza.
Surprisingly, more pizza delivering goes on than you'd expect. It helps offer up increasingly over the top sub-plots somehow. Sure it's filled with crass jokes, over cooked pop culture references, profanity-as-humour, but dammit it works. All the off the wall takes on history and society are too good some times. No sacred cows. Everything is blown up out of proportion and the popped with anything from hard nipples to gun fire. Sexist? Yep, every kind of prejudice all at once in fact. Non-cliches and non-stereotypes need not apply. Perfect example; the first episode of the latest series has the shop moving to cheaper confines in the mythical western suburb of Sydney, Hashtown (or Hashville, or something) and during the first day the boys run afoul of every unpleasant character of Aus' suburbia. Whip thin, bottle blonde bogan women screeching at their brood of mullet-headed children; thuggish gangs of various shades. In one sequence Pauly is lost amid the endless roundabouts and cul-de-sacs, running into screwdriver wielding white trash in trackies who nick his car, while around the corner some gangs of Asian folks decide to have a gun fight. While escaping he runs into a pack of enormous Maoris, then leaps over a fence into the marijuana plantation of some shotgun toting bikies. Magic.
Somehow it's not just an over the top scandal-fest though (so far, anyway. Even if there's room for a more strict script editor at times). The happy, well balanced and good natured Australia most of us idealise is smashed weekly by this violent, crazy, harshly class based and ethnically divided world of Pizza. And we know it's true, or at least as true as the nice idealised version. Or you could just see it as funny.
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