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Fat jokes can only take a script so far.
I’ve heard of interventions for people with drink or drug problems, but new Kiwi comedy Golden (starting on Sunday at 7pm on TV3) begins with an intervention for someone who has had too many pies.
Gold-medal-winning former rower Shelley Bowman, played and co-created by Lucy Schmidt, has packed on the kilograms since she was last on the water.
When her bossy mother, Bev, stages an intervention, she is confronted with the truth about her increasing weight.
“I’m not on drugs,” wails pyjama-clad Shelley as she lies on the sofa with a box of doughnuts nearby.
“More’s the pity. Janine’s daughter’s on the P and she’s lost 10kg, but then again, she has also lost 10 teeth,” retorts her mother.
It seems like a good idea for a comedy – a top athlete who has gone off the rails and is struggling to get back to the top, but the first episode feels a little bit too fixated on visual fat jokes.
There’s fat Shelley eating bacon crisps. There’s fat Shelley squeezing into her Lycra one-piece rowing suit. There’s fat Shelley sitting on a chair that breaks.
OK, we get it, she likes cakes.
When it’s not fatness, it’s other body issues. Bev suffers from some explosive bowel problems – after trying the cayenne pepper and maple syrup diet. “Beyonce lost 9kg on it,” she says before running for the toilet.
Meanwhile Shelley’s ex-boyfriend and trainer, Paul (Joel Tobeck), is obsessed with the size of his manhood after Shelley commented about it to a woman’s magazine after a breakup.
“In case you’re wondering, I’m average in the undies department – average – because I checked. Caucasian males, right down the middle, 52nd percentile, July Men’s Health,” he says to Eliot within minutes of appearing on screen.
His obvious insecurity is funny, but by the fourth or fifth penis-size joke, not so much.
All this anatomical humour is about as subtle as a battering to the head with The Bumper Book of Fat Jokes, and it’s a shame, because the situation and the characters have potential.
I particularly like Bev (Jennifer Ludlam), who is the perfect bossy, smothering mum with some great lines.
Shelley’s cousin, Eliot (Jesse Griffin), is good in his dual role as a timid physiotherapist and all-round lackey.
There are some moments that made me chuckle, such as Bev showing Eliot her wedding-dress photos and suggesting it might do for his future bride one day.
“Janine’s daughter’s looking,” she tells him.
“The P addict?” he replies.
“Oh, she’s a lovely-looking girl when she’s got her mouth closed.”
Hopefully, in the coming weeks we will see the characters develop a bit more and the laughs coming from some good writing rather than fat and fart jokes. After all, unless you’re an 8-year-old boy, it’s rare for bodily functions to be the funniest part of people.
Golden: Sundays, 7pm, TV3.
– © Fairfax NZ News