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Genre: Drama, Family
Episode Name: Season 4, Episode 1
Air date: 5/22/2013
Summary: Nina and Patrick prepare for parenthood as Billie struggles to cope with Nina’s pregnancy. Meanwhile, a new arrival sparks interest at the hospital.
No, Offspring isn’t a dramatization of the life of popular 90’s pop-punk sellouts The Offspring. Instead it’s a dramedy from the folks behind The Secret Life Of Us who haven’t deviated too far from the young people who look for love while using voice-over formula that worked the last time around. They even trot Deborah Mailman out just so the line between the two shows is blurred even further.
Offspring is Channel 10’s attempt to cash in on the Australian family soap opera with minor bursts of comedy genre that has reaped huge rewards for Channel 7 with Packed To The Rafters. While Rafters pitches itself to the broadest possible audience, Offspring has its heart set on the 18 to 40 year old women who were the backbone of Secret Life’s success. Offspring tells the story of Dr. Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie from Underbelly and Hawke) who narrates us through her busy life of delivering babies, looking after the rest of her ramshackle family, coping with her crazy ex-husband and fantasizing about her hot new co-worker.
What starts off as a romantic jaunt with Nina batting her eyes at hot Dr. Chris (Don Hany from East West 101) soon gets sidetracked with her bitchy and dim sister Billie (Kat Stewart from Underbelly, :30 Seconds, Tangle) trying to figure out her real estate career and men problems, before ultimately turning into the story of Cherie (Deborah Mailman), a whom who’s having a baby that unknowingly belongs to Nina’s dad Darcy (John Waters). We also get to meet Nina’s man-whore brother Jimmy who moves in with Darcy’s ex-wife and Nina’s mum Geraldine.
Nina is overworked and under-loved but ultimately she’s a boring lead whose path seems pretty well pre-destined. Will she get back with her crazy ex who loves explosives? Or is she more likely to have an on-again/off-again/on-again fling with Dr. Chris? I think we all know how that will play out. That’s the big problem with Offspring; it doesn’t really deviate too far off the beaten track. 30-somethings with complicated lives just looking for that little piece of happiness while their older parents who should be wiser still haven’t found exactly what they’re looking for either.
There’s a moment early on in the pilot where Billie grows sick of her lusty almost-relationship with a grubby gardener, played by comedian and general all-round prong Eddie Perfect. She needs a grown-up man so she goes on a blind date. Predictably enough the blind date goes horrible but not in any real way, you see the date talks about Star Wars a lot. Star Wars is of course television writer shorthand for ‘massive loser’ and Billie longs for her gardener hunk with his no shoes, scruffy look unshaven chin and pet dog. Unfortunately I found myself wishing I could spend more time with the Star Wars loser than with the complaining dimwits who populate the rest of the show.
Every character comes in different shades of annoying; they range from the extra gratingly annoying Billie, to the annoyingly ridiculous explosive expert ex-husband who blows everything up, right down to the extra dull and annoying too-perfect Dr. Chris. Offspring doesn’t come out the gates flying but then history reminds us that Secret Life’s first episode wasn’t exactly riveting television. Offspring could over time grow into a serviceable comedy drama that reminds us of us, but this first episode doesn’t instil a lot of confidence by offering up a mildly irritating snoozy comedy drama that’s light on the comedy and heavy on whiny soap opera predictability.