Review – Tricky Business – Episode 8
Tricky Business – Nine – 8:30pm Monday – AUS
Episode 8: Secret Girls’ Business
Showing off the sort of well-researched journalism that will surely be missed when Fairfax eventually closes its doors, they ran a report this week that pointed out that without The Voice as a lead-in Tricky Business dropped from 1.336 million viewers down to just 716,000. This sounds like a massive drop until you look at things like facts and the actual numbers Tricky Business pulled last week (759,000) and not the widely misreported ratings that came from The Voice running overtime. That being said, those inflated numbers make Tricky Business look like a bigger flop than it is. Tricky Business has been averaging around the 700,000 viewer mark for most of its run. The show has always been a flop but thanks to Nine not correcting that 1,336,000 number it looks far more embarrassing than it should (losing 43,000 is blip but losing 620,000 is a disaster).
Not that the ratings of Tricky Business really matter because this show has been on brain dead auto-pilot since it started; it seems doubtful that anybody involved in its production will miss anything about the show beyond the paycheck. I’ve watched a lot of Australian dramas in my time, but I’m having a hard time remembering one as god-awful as Tricky Business. I’ve not really thrown the word ‘hack’ around a lot on this blog, I’ve been called a hack before (ironically enough by the writer of Cops L.A.C) but I haven’t really called anybody else a hack before so here goes: the writers of Tricky Business are lazy hacks. The entire show feels like it’s a placeholder, as if it should come with a note scrawled across the screen that says “we’ll think of something better to go here later if we can be bothered”. This show isn’t even a half-decent first draft, it’s a ‘gone to lunch’ post-it note turned into a prime time television series.
This episode opens with Shane Bourne talking to camera (which is a device this show never tires of despite it not making any sense) during which he describes being a mercantile agent as “not one of those jobs you can just cruise along until you retire”, unlike, say, Australian TV writers who can seemingly coast forever. Now, I’m picking on the writers here because, let’s face it, it’s all their fault. The acting is rather ordinary but it’s hard to see even the best actors in this business chew their way through awful lines like the ones this cast are given. Shane Bourne seems out of it, and Debra Byrne is oddly terrible as Ma Tricky. Kip Gamblin is lacks screen presence unlike Lincoln Lewis who is enjoyable in a ridiculously limited role; the same goes for Sophie Hensser who is charismatic but has the absolute worst written character in Lily. You can imagine Hensser going home from shooting and just screaming “frustration!”
This week Emma ran away from basketball camp to find her dad, Rick had to go to Sydney because he’s being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission, Matt had to take over a case involving a business lady, while Chad got a visit from Minnie who asked him to go to Queensland with her. These are all plots that could contain things like ‘drama’ or ‘comedy’ if somebody involved did something like ‘trying’. Take Chad’s situation as an example; it is plausible that we might care about his and Minnie’s relationship and it is plausible that we might be invested in Chad’s decision to stick by his job because he really loves it, and is plausible that we might genuinely believe that he’s really leaving to go live in Queensland with Minnie. However, these two are just bland empty-headed shells. They’re not two characters in love. Minnie actually says to Chad “I want to see if we can give it a go, give us a go” and it’s supposed to be heartfelt but it sounds like sub-Home & Away relationship waffle. Minnie isn’t a person, she’s just a plot point – this isn’t Chad choosing between his work and love, this is Chad being presented with two clichéd offers in the most generic way possible – which will he choose?! – as if it could possibly matter.
The Matt storyline involving the ‘important business lady’ they were trying to catch out only served to remind us how vague Tricky Business treats most things. There was that gaming company the other week that the characters only talked about in the vaguest terms possible and this week we had a business woman who they had to catch out doing some business with spreadsheets. Matt and Kate both went undercover and the most specific they could get about the case was they wanted to trick her by saying “we’re keen to improve our productivity” as if that explains what was happening. I’m starting to think the Tricky family are the worst mercantile agents in Australia.
Rick’s ongoing anti-corruption saga is so mind numbingly boring that it’s not really worth mentioning. Meanwhile in actual story development land Emma ran away from basketball camp to find her father. Reiterating the idea that this family are awful at their jobs it takes them an incredibly long time to track down Emma’s dad despite ‘tracking down people’ being in their job description. The whole plot asked us to suspend so much disbelief that it became tiring. Why was every family member trying to talk Kate out of going to look for Emma? “oh you used to misbehave as a kid too.” AND? Her daughter has gone missing and nobody knows where she is and you want her to just sit still?
This plot did bring up two of Tricky Business’s favourite things – 1) misunderstanding teenagers and 2) forcing Shane Bourne to spew words that sound like they should be forming some kind of joke but aren’t. On the first score we had Lily guessing Emma’s passwords for her laptop and Facebook – they were, obviously, RICKROCKS and MUM-SUX because Emma is retarded. On the second front we had Shane Bourne complaining about Facebook by saying “I think it’s more of anti-social network if you ask me” which I’m sure got many knowing nods of approval from the audience at home as they drifted off to sleep. He also referred to Justin Bieber as Justin Beaver because COMEDY.
This storyline culminated in a ridiculous scene where Emma had lunch with her real dad and his new wife Caroline and their daughter, only for Kate and Rick to bust in and save her from another helping of chicken. Caroline overreacts massively to the news that her husband has a daughter with another woman, while her dad acts like a robot. Kate & Rick whisk Emma away leaving this other family seemingly in tatters, but it’s okay because Emma is back and Rick rocks and whatever. This episode was trying desperately to be emotionally manipulative, as if it pressed the ‘I just want my daughter back!’ button hard enough it would elicit some kind of reaction. It didn’t; this was just more nonsense from one of the most atrocious Australian dramas to come along in a good while.
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?
This review is part of Change The Channel’s episode by episode coverage of Tricky Business. The full list of episode reviews can be found under Series.