Categorised | Australian and New Zealand TV

Tags | None

Review: Party Tricks 1x1 (Australia: Ten)

Posted on October 20, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Party Tricks

In Australia: Mondays, 8.30pm, Ten

Politics is an area rife for fictionalisation – indeed, some would argue that it is already largely fictional – and some of the best TV comedies and dramas around the world have been set in the world of politics: think The Thick of It and Yes Minister in the UK, The West Wing and House of Cards in the US, Borgen in Denmark and Spin in France.

Australian politics is no less entertaining than the politics of any other country and Australian TV is now getting in on this act with shows such as ABC’s The Code. However, more traditional but equally innovative is Ten’s Party Tricks, which sees Victoria’s incumbent State Premier and Labor politician Kate Ballard (Asher Keddie from the much-loved Offspring) going up against Liberal politician and former journalist David McLeod (Rodger Corser). The slight hitch is that Ballard and McLeod had an affair several years previously and Ballard is worried that McLeod is going to drop this particular bomb at an inconvenient moment, despite the widowed McLeod playing the family card in his own campaign.

Ten’s supporting the show with extensive fake social media activity, from Twitter feeds to web sites and campaign videos, which is a relatively innovative touch. Unfortunately, as with all this kind of '360º work’, more attention should have been paid to the script than to how many people get fooled by a fake Tweet and then smile wryly to themselves.

Party Tricks is ostensibly a comedy drama and while the show starts off pleasantly enough with a bewigged flashback to when McLeod and Ballard first met – and hated each other – slowly the corners of my smile descended as it became clear that was the best bit. It doesn’t help that Ballard’s main helper Wayne Duffy (Angus Sampson) is effectively just a gay Chris Addison in The Thick Of It, from lines through to delivery, making anyone who’s watched similar shows feel like they’re watching a re-tread of better things.

Lots of it play well, though, with Ballard and Duffy’s rewriting of statements to blur the truth a particular highpoint, and there are some genuinely funny physical comedy moments, such as Duffy’s dealing with the security systems at the Victorian government offices. But this is more a story about relationships than politics, and the relationship in question was between the frosty Ballard and the ‘big giant twat’ McLeod, and by the end of the first episode, I didn’t feel inclined to get to know either of them any better.


Related entries

  • October 20, 2014: What have you been watching? Including Strange Empire, Coverband, Electra, The Flash and Doctor Who
    What I’ve been watching in the week ending 20th October 2014
  • February 14, 2016: What have you been watching? Including The Man From UNCLE, Sicario
    The TV I watched in the week ending Saturday 12th February 2016
  • June 9, 2016: Review: Secret City 1x1-1x2 (Australia: Foxtel Showcase)
    A review of the first two episodes of Foxtel Showcase's Secret City
  • September 19, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Hooten and the Lady, Doctor, Doctor and High Maintenance
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending Monday 19th September

Allowable comments

You can leave just about any kind of comment you like. You can argue, suggest I am (or anyone else is) wrong, leaving general messages of love – anything. However, you absolutely can't leave messages that attack other commenters (or me), are simple variations of "your review sucks" or that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc: your comment will either be edited or deleted and you'll be barred from leaving any further comments. We want to keep it civil here.


You can hide a spoiler by putting <spoiler> before it and </spoiler> after it. Hover over a spoiler to reveal it!

Featured Articles

Twin Peaks

Lynch at his best in years