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International Student is the story of Ronny Chieng, a Malaysian student who has travelled to Australia to study law. All he has to do is study, get good marks and make his Mom proud. Well, that was the plan anyway.
I have to agree with the others here. I'm usually very very critical of Australian shows because, quite frankly, they bore the heck out of me and have a very bad habit of copying many ideas and scenarios from American shows (Farscape seemed to copy a few Battlestar Galactica episodes, and Hollowmen had very similar character's to West Wing.) But this? No, it's bloody fantastic.
The show's main strength is it's characters. You have Don Angel, a typical guy who obviously just wants to get ahead in his small business, but is floundering around, unable to catch a break. He's tripping himself up with what he thinks of as his clever little schemes and ends up in more trouble than he can usually handle on his own.
Along comes Ray, back on the job as his psychologist proscribed, bringing a very unique, charming and lovable character to the screen. His character is impressively well acted, giving off all the right emotions and facial expressions, especially where Ray's daughter, Leslie, is concerned.
Now, many shows can attest to good characters. But where most of those shows fall flat is in the dialogue department. Having a great character is all well and good, but it's when characters begin having witty conversations full of quotable one-liners and story development the entire way through an episode, that you know a show has done it right.
Very Small Business excels at this, the dialogue drives the episode forward, and the camera-work does an absolutely astounding job of setting the tone and scene. The first episode was what originally caught my attention, when I noticed that the position of the camera wasn't just used for practical reasons, it was also instrumental in keeping the story flowing and delivering punchlines. One particular scene has Ray asking if he should come in tomorrow and the camera cuts back out to the edge of the office room, the two actors standing silently, awkwardly, with the view of them at these two small desks in a very large open room to tell you exactly what they're thinking.
It's late at night here (or rather, early morning :P But I just watched the series for the millionth time since I bought it for $10 but at JB- Hi-Fi (not at Bunnings Warehouse or Harvey Norman, as I'm sure they hoped would be the case with those hilarious random mentions of the two companies.) In short, it's a fantastic, and sadly, very short lived show. But that is no excuse to let it slip by the wayside. It's shows like this that give me hope that one day Australia will realise it's potential to equal the amazing quality of British comedy.
Buy it now, please :)
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