Tv Review: Upright Series 1 Episodes 1 and 2

upright s1e1and2index

Time’s running out apparently for Lucky Flynn (Tim Minchin), at least according to a message that he receives right at the beginning of the series. It’s not as serious as it sounds though, he’s just got to get to his mother’s in Perth with a piano on the back of his car, though there’s a complicated back story hinted at as Lucky hasn’t had anything to do with his family for the past eight years and flashbacks suggest a rather violent encounter once took place.

Meanwhile Meg (Milly Alcock) is a sixteen year old girl who is also heading to Perth, to meet her long lost Mother as her father is a drunk that she doesn’t want to live with any more. Normally these two would never have met but after a car accident they’re thrown together, and so begins an odd couple road movie with the unlikely duo travelling together across many a deserted road and having adventures along the way.

The first episode initially moves at quite a fast pace with the duo together within six minutes, but then it spends the rest of it’s run time teasing us as to whether they will actually team up, despite everyone knowing that’s the concept of the show and it’s definitely going to happen. It’s supposed to hint at the fact that Lucky isn’t the best of blokes as he initially steals Meg’s truck, and some of her money, but he’s clearly secretly lovely really and so returns the next morning with her being completely unaware that he’d initially run off.

Most of the humour in the first episode comes from the fact that Meg’s a sweary so and so, and quite inventive and funny with foul language too, there’s also some wry smiles to be had that Meg is so much more practical than Lucky, while there’s a vaguely amusing discussion about the nature of existence and whether or not everything happens for a reason, with Lucky telling a story about a dead member of the band ELO to suggest that it definitely doesn’t.

It’s not quite enough to sustain the running time though, Alcock and Minchin are both strong leads and the characters likeable, but there’s too much random chat and not enough amusing or interesting things taking place. Indeed I did wonder whether it was worth bothering with another episode as it didn’t exactly grip me, but I gave it another shot and am glad that I did as the second episode is much stronger.

It still suffers a little from too much dialogue and not enough plot, but at least things happen in this second episode and it doesn’t rely on Alcock and Minchin spewing foul language for laughs quite as much as the first does. The relationship between the two begins to strengthen too as Minchin goes on a quest to get prescription medication for his panic attacks, Meg ends up stealing a script from a doctor, and an encounter with a motorbike gang leads to an impromptu bit of piano playing and then a big fight too.

Despite my complaints about the over reliance on bad language sometimes it is very funny, with the story about how Minchin’s band’s album being called “Mothercunting jesus shit fuck” amusing, I just wish the show was a bit more varied when it came to provoking laughter. The second episode does give me hope that will be the case with the rest of the series though as we learn more about these characters and are given reasons to like them, and though these first two episodes aren’t exactly stellar comedy there’s enough going on to suggest it’s a show which might develop in to something much more interesting.

★★★ 1/2

Alex Finch.
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