Frank Woodley burst back onto Australian television screens sans Colin Lane this year with the simply titled Woodley. Obviously Frank had been doing his solo thing for a number of years on comedy festival stages, but this was a reintroduction to a broader free to air telly audience.
Viewers were confronted with something quite different to The Adventures of Lano and Woodley but also something very charming. Something that also showed of the range of Frank Woodley, proving he was more than a mere silly slapstick man. In Woodley, he shows off his straight acting chops as well as his comedy ones. Don’t get me wrong, there are still fantastic slapstick scenes (see Frank’s drunken escapades at a golf course), but there is also a tender relationship built up with his estranged daughter through the show. There is still a definite vein of hijinks running through it all, but this is more about Woodley as an outsider, desperately trying to fit into a world that he just does not quite fit into. And that is really interesting stuff.
Whilst there is no doubt that in some ways Frank misses the brilliance of former straight man Colin Lane, he surmounts this by delivering a show that is more grounded, true to life and definitely emotive. Woodley is able to develop emotional undercurrents over the course of the 8 show season, something his previous outings did not allow. He is assisted greatly in this regard by two stellar female supporting performances. Firstly Justine Clarke as Frank’s long suffering ex-wife who has a complicated relationship with her former man, whilst trying to continue on her life. And as Frank’s daughter Ollie, Alexandra Cashmere is spectacularly good and has a real screen presence for one so very young. Just as he did for most of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley the incredibly innovative and talented musician Mal Webb provides the soundtrack. I think Webb is a vastly underrated musician and he is having a lot of over the top fun with this soundtrack. Here is just a tiny taste of his other work:
Overall, whilst perhaps not reaching the side-splitting comedic heights of Frank’s earlier TV effort, this is an incredibly charming change of pace from the helter skelter vibe of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley. As a demonstration of Frank Woodley’s range and ability, both as writer and star, Woodley is definitely worth spending some time with.
Verdict: Stubby of Reschs
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