Frank Woodley returns as Frank Woodley in the new ABC series Woodley. That’s a lot of wood! Last week we were introduced to Frank’s dissolving family. This week’s episode sees Frank and daughter Ollie (Alexandra Cashmere) become sidekicks in finding her bedtime toy Fuzzby while darting the infuriation of one manic and maniacal fashion designer.
For Frank, even simple light fixtures and tea bags contain too much potential for trouble. Navigating his way around life and household appliances, Frank is out on a mission to prove his capability to father Ollie. He is also still in love with ex-wife Em (Justine Clarke) and wants her back. However, his bumbling and inept existence makes life that bit more difficult.
While the first episode painted a very melancholic picture for Frank’s personal life, the second episode sets out a foreseeable arc where he aims to get his life back together. The second episode also sets out an episodic template where general shenanigans can successfully see through the 25 minutes of screen time.
After leaving Fuzzby at Em’s home, Frank and Ollie set out on track to locate the soft animal. On the way, they get caught up in an industrial fashion show that is minutes from beginning. Frank’s clumsiness sets a fire hose to the models, and enrages the fashion designer who had finally reached his artistic perfection (he really does have an uncanny skill for turning order into chaos.) This ensues a chase, culminating in a Scooby Doo style scrambling through an endless procession of doors.
Mal Webb’s score once again summons a French-inspired feel, creating the sense of a French mime directed piece in the style of Jaques Tati. Director Trent O’Donell helps create this style which is more prevalent than the slapstick movements of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, as seen in the first episode. Even Frank’s house is a small and confined space, filled with endless opportunities for slapstick madness.
Frank Woodley is continually charming as the affable and hysterical titular hero. His genuine appeal lies mostly in his ignorance and innocence. Alexandra Cashmere is very cute as Ollie, and the father-daughter relationship represented on screen is touching and a whimsical rarity on television these days. Justine Clarke is warm and understanding as they at-her-wits-end Em. Woodley is soulful and hysterical, and fills an empty space left open in contemporary Australian comedy.
Woodley airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC1. Woodley also screens on ABC2 and iView. Click here to read other episode reviews.