Heartbreak High (2022): Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR Heartbreak High crafted an interesting narrative with compelling characters in a setting that does not get the coverage that it should

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this series.

Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress

The "Map"

Heartbreak High Review

Ever since Sex Education blasted onto the scene, there has been a big push by networks to jump back into the world of teen coming-of-age series, but written with a level of maturity. While there have been a lot of pretenders, I have yet to see anything come close to capturing that level of honesty in a show, well, that is until today. Today we are looking at a show that feels like a breath of fresh air while also being a call back to an Australian classic set at Hartley High School in Sydney, Australia.

So to set the scene, Amerie (Ayesha Madon) and Harper (Asher Yasbincek) are besties who spend their lives inseparable and then fighting hard. But after a music festival, Harper ghosted Amerie and completely changed her appearance. Amerie is trying to find out why all hell breaks loose when they get into a fistfight. Because all last year, Amerie and Harper spent their time in the abandoned stairwell making a map of all the different sexual encounters their grade had engaged in. So on the day that Amerie losses her best friend, the map is discovered, and Amerie goes from being Amerie to becoming ‘Map Bitch’ before being sequestered away in a sexual literacy tutorial with everyone else on the map, including Darren (James Majoos), Quinni (Chloe Hayden), Malakai (Thomas Weatherall), Ca$h (Will McDonald), Dusty (Joshua Heuston), Sasha (Gemma Chua-Tran), Spider (Bryn Chapman-Parish), Missy (Sherry-Lee Watson), and Ant (Brodie Townsend). Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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The Bridge Australia: Season One – TV Review

TL;DR – This has an intriguing premise and a clear visual style but struggles in areas like how it represents some of the conflicts.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this series.

Day 3 - 306 metres to go

The Bridge Australia Review

Regarding competition television shows, they can capture my heart like Survivor and make me watch season after season. Or I bounce off quicker than that time they tried to do Survivor but on a pirate ship. However, I am always looking for something new in this area which is where I found gems like Lego Masters. Today, I am looking at the first three episodes of The Bridge Australia to see which side of the coin it will land. Will it suck me in, or will it end up on the bottom of a Tasmanian river?   

So to set the scene, there is a river deep in the wilderness of Tasmania, and in that river is a $250,000 prize sitting on an island beckoning them to claim it. All the twelve participants must do is work together and build the titular 330-meter bridge from the materials around them. They have 17 days to work together to get across the island while a guardian blinks with its red light and tempts those making the trip.

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Chopsticks Or Fork?: Season One – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a delightful documentary exploring a world that hits a deep nostalgic note for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I watched this on ABC IView

Chopsticks Or Fork? Image Credit: ABC TV.

Chopsticks Or Fork? Review

Tonight I was looking for something to watch as I ate my dinner, and in a world of streaming where you have so much choice, it is almost paralysing at times just to pick one thing. But as I sat there with all those windows open, there was this moment when a documentary series about rural Chinese restaurants in Australia appeared, and it intrigued me. Now that I have watched every episode, I can tell you that this was the right choice.

So to set the scene, the premise of this show is that presenter Jennifer Wong and the crew, including director Lin Jie Kong, travel to rural towns in Australia to look at the Chinese Restaurants that take up a focal point in these communities. Here we get a show that is a part travel show, part food exploration, and part look at the intersections of culture these restaurants make. We get these stories and more as we meet six different families from restaurants across Australia from The New Bo Wa in Moree, Raymond’s at Malua Bay, Oriental Palace in Hervey Bay, Pagoda Chinese Restaurant in Atherton, Gawler Palace & Happy Garden in Darwin.  

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Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is an absurd joyous mess, which I just mainlined all at once, and now have questions about life the universe, and what happened to that dishwasher?  

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun: Season 1. Image Credit: Netflix.

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun Review

I am not sure I could put in words how excited I was when I heard that Aunty Donna was getting a Netflix series, well I mean it is my job so I will get it a good college try. Aunty Donna is a sketch comedy troop from Australia that swerves into the absurd while still being deeply Australian. My first introduction to them was when my brother asked the question is there ‘Always Room for Christmas Pud’ from then I learned what it was to be a ‘Chuffed Dad’, and how to do a ‘Roll Call’. Seeing that chaos on a Netflix series, well sign me up. 

So to set the scene, Mark (Mark Samual Bonanno), Broden (Broden Kelly), and Zach (Zachary Ruane) all live in a house in Los Angeles. Everything is going well in their lives because they have discovered that Everything is Drum, that is until they found the one thing that was not a drum, but then thankfully it actually was a drum and Zach was just hitting it wrong. It is all fine and dandy until the Dishwasher (Kristen Schaal) decided that it should pay less rent because it washes all the dishes. Okay, time to find a new housemate, which is when the chaos starts. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Help! My Kid Is A Gamer: Season 2 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is an excellent resource for parents wanting to know more about video games to help understand and engage with their kids on the issue

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Help! My Kid Is A Gamer: Season 2. Image Credit: ABC TV.

Help! My Kid Is A Gamer! Review

Last year, I got a chance to see a documentary series that was as informative as it was entertaining. Help! My Kid Is A Gamer! was very much as the title suggested. It explored the world of Video Games for parents that might not have a firm grasp on it. In my review, I found the show to be exciting, but there were some areas that I thought they had missed. Well, Season 2 is here, and those topics and more have been addressed, which is great to see.

So to set the scene, Help! My Kid Is A Gamer! is a show that explores the realm of video games for parents and caregivers, and not just video games but the surrounding ecosystem that supports and thrives around it. This season, we get topics that run the gamut from Online Safety to potential careers in Esports. All of these topics are important for parents and other care providers for giving them insight into a rapidly changing but also influential world. They are also presented in an easy to understand manner, with experts that can walk you through the issues, and an excellent summary at the end to give you strategy to engage with the issue at hand.  

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Love, Guns & Level Ups – YouTube Review

TL;DR – A series that charts the course of a relationship from the online to the IRL  

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Love, Guns & Level Ups. Image Credit: Fury Fingers.

Love, Guns & Level Ups Review

We live in a big weird connected world. I have good friends that I have never met in the real or only one time. I also have nemeses that I have never met in the real … you know who you are. This oddity, thanks to the internet, is a concept that I have seen a couple of attempts to explore. Still, it is usually from people who don’t understand the medium of video games and the relationships that can form because of them. Today we get to look at a series that    

So to set the scene, we open in on a chat log as two friends hop online to play Go-Go Soldier, a popular Battle Royale game. Amongst all the carnage of power-ups, dance bonuses, and just general chaos, two players Elliot or Mad_Martigan (Eduard Geyl) and Bree or GG_Gun (Lisa Fanto) eye the same bonus, a bow with a dynamite arrow. They get beaten to the bow by another player, but through some quiet communication, they choose to help take down the goon before a falling stick of dynamite separates them. They are pulled apart, but there is an instant connection which leads to some clear gun flirting a little later. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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TV Review – Last One Laughing Australia (LOL Australia)

TL;DR – This is a fascinating yet polarising show, that I don’t think will find a middle ground for most people and instead will hit one of the extremes.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Last One Laughing Australia (LOL Australia). Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Review

There are some concepts that you hear and immediately know that it was a good idea, and sticking a bunch of comedians in a room and make them force everyone to laugh while keeping yourself mute. This is one giant game of chicken with $100,000 on the line. Though I should say before diving in, I think you will know immediately if this show is for you with one phrase “dildo jacket”.

The format of the show is straightforward, you can’t laugh, you can’t even really smile, because if you do your out. This is complicated a little bit by everyone getting one yellow card warning and also getting a Joker Card that can be used only once to force everyone in the room to focus on you. That’s it, but then that is all you need if you have cast the show well, which is what they have done here.

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TV Review – Bloom: Season Two

TL;DR – A solid follow up season that makes up for a lack of subtlety with its themes with some solid acting and emotional drive.   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Bloom: Season Two. Image Credit: Stan.

Review

It was just over a year ago when Stan dropped this interesting little show about a fruit that can make you young again, the only catch is that it grows in the places people died in a great flood. This gave it both an interesting and also very morbid these even before people started going after each other over the plants. I was interested to see where the show could go from there and well now we can see with the second season coming out over the Easter weekend.

So to set the scene, in the weeks after the end of Season One, things in the town of Mullan in rural Australia have been in a state of flux. For some of the residents of the town, life has gone back to normal, but for the others, the lingering effect of the plant is still there even though all the plants are now gone. In the city, the last of the young people from the first season Young Gwen (Phoebe Tonkin) is dancing the night away with her now much older husband Ray (Bryan Brown) causing much mirth from the rest of the people in the nightclub. He decides to let her go enjoy her youth, but she will have none of that. Back in town, a mother Anne Carter (Jacqueline McKenzie) has arrived under mysterious circumstances with her daughter Eva (Ingrid Torelli) and family friend Luke (Ed Oxenbould). Also, the new local priest Father John (Toby Schmitz) is trying to get people back to the church when he finds out that Mullan might have a secret of its own when local creepy guy Shane (Tom Budge) lets slip about what happened. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.    

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TV Review – Help! My Kid Is A Gamer – Season 1

TL;DR – This is a really good resource for parents wanting to know more about video games to help understand and engage with their kids on the issue

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Help! My Kid Is A Gamer. Image Credit: ABC TV.

Review

Video games, they are the latest hotness in the world, but like a lot of new technologies, there is a lot about them that can be difficult for people to understand if they are not familiar. This is amplified when it is parents trying to understand the world that their kids are living in. Today we look at a series that is trying to de-mystify some of the real issues around gaming and to give parents the tools needed to understand and help kids develop.

Each episode of the show revolves around one aspect of the video games industry and how it applies to children and then talks to the experts to help parents understand the issue. For example loot boxes and microtransactions. This is all presented in a form that is easy to digest which is important when dealing with very complex issues where there are quite often no straight forward answers. I feel that this show is really important because it does not shy away from the problematic aspects of video games but it also does not lean into the sensationalist reporting that you get from most of the Australian media that does not know how to write stories unless it is about “insert game is the new addiction” like we saw just last week with untitled goose game. There are real problems and concerns with video games, but these are no different for any other types of media and as a parent it is important to be across these issues.

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TV Review – Les Norton: Season One

TL;DR – Was one of the more interesting shows I have seen on Australian TV by being both a throwback to the past and also something a little new 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Les Norton. Image Credit: ABC.

Review

We took a look back at Les Norton’s first episode You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids, back when it first came out. Well, the first season has just finished so I wanted to take a moment to look back at the show and how well it did as a whole. A show about the 1980s, finding yourself in over your head, and also just about the most aggressively Australian TV show I have seen in a very long while.

So to set the scene, Les Norton (Alexander Bertrand) is a country boy from Dirranbandi in south-west Queensland. He’s had to skip town after an incident where a rival teammate was left fighting for his life with a head injury and he needed to disappear before there was a riot. He needed to find some work to get through his time in Sydney which is where he meets his guide and new friend Billy Dunne (Hunter Page-Lochard) working as a doorman at a local club in Kings Cross. The first 22 minutes of his shift is boring, but we come in at minute 23 and the fists start flying. The head of the club Price Galese (David Wenham) likes what he sees and brings him into the fold and Les discovers a world hidden out of sight, protected by the powerful, and who run on very different rules where discretion is key.

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