HBO bought the hit Australian situation comedy Summer Heights High and will air the 8 season 1 shows Sundays at 10:30 P.M. starting November 9th, 2008. I believe Summer Heights High was a toss-in HBO got with something better. To be fair, the mocumentary style show is said to have been immensely popular in both Australia and Great Britain and it does get better halfway through.
In Summer Heights High series creator / writer Chris Lilley plays the three different lead characters: Mr. G the stereotypical drama teacher, Jonah the school bully and moron, and Ja’mie an exchange student from a private school with the occasional 5 o’clock shadow. Lilley does not have the distance to see when his characters have overextended their screen time. The fact these characters are but stereotypes for the first few shows does not help
As a writer, Chris Lilley seems to belong to the tell don’t show school of thought. Not much goes on in the first three episodes but everybody sure talks to the screen a lot.
There are a few funny moments early on in Summer Heights High such as Mr. G’s improvised emergency drills, but they too suffer from too much talking about it and not enough seeing it.
Fortunately, Summer Heights High starts to show more than tell in episode four of Season One. An amusing sequence is when the school counselor makes Jonah and his cronies Big Brothers to the kids they victimize. Also on the fun side is Greg Grayson, Mr. G, directing Mr. G the school’s musical and his lobbying for the Grayson Performing Arts Center. Meanwhile, the much less interesting storyline of Ja’mie and her school formal dance plods on.
The three stories in this mockumentary sitcom from Australia come together in the eighth and last episode of season one which airs on HBO Sunday, December 28th at 10:30 / 9:30 Central.