Summer Heights High
Chris Lilley, Danny Alsabbagh, Alicia Banit
8 Episodes 2 DVD
Aired HBO 2008
Warner Home Video 2009

Summer Heights High is the hit Australian sitcom that became a hit in England and was then picked up by HBO. The eight shows of this situation comedy created by, written by, and starring Chris Lilley are now available on 2 DVD with 31/2 hours worth of deleted scenes and bloopers. The show was very popular in both Australia and Great Britain. Though it does get better halfway through, I remained unimpressed.

Series star and writer and creator Chris Lilley simultaneously plays the three lead characters: Mr. G the of-course-he’s-gay drama teacher, school bully and moron Jonah, and Ja’mie an exchange student from a private school. For a high school girl Jamie does have quite the occasional 5 o’clock shadow. These characters fail to rise above stereotype for the first few shows and this does not help you get interested in Summer Heights High

Another problem is as Summer Heights High creator, Chris Lilley does not have the distance to see when his characters have overextended their screen time. Lilley the writer is clearly of the tell don’t show school of thought so everybody sure talks to the screen a lot, especially in the first half of this Australian situation comedy. The few funny moments early on in Summer Heights High, such as Mr. G’s improvised emergency drills, also suffer from being told about them more than seeing them.

The sitcom starts to show more than tell in episode four of Summer Heights High (DVD 1).  The story lines also get better such as the school counselor making Jonah and his cronies Big Brothers to the kids they victimize. In a bit of reality meets fiction the drama teacher slowly takes over the entire year end show, becoming its star, writer, and creator.

This comedy’s main drag is the Ja’mie character. Chris Lilley is not convincing and a similar character on the British comedy show The Catherine Tate show is much better.

I am usually a fan of non-American situation comedy DVD sets but pass on this one.


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