ABC’s new comedy series Woodley seems to be getting more confident each week. And it’s easy to see why. Setting up the main three characters has familiarized viewers with their habits and idiosyncrasies. Mind you, this mainly relates to the star and protagonist Frank Woodley (playing himself). In the previous two episodes, Frank has appeared as a bumbling but loveable buffoon. Episode 3 allows for a cerebral exploration of the perils and insecurities that surround Frank.
While the first two episodes basically involved only Frank, his ex-wife Em (Justine Clarke) and their seven-year-old daughter Ollie (Alexandra Cashmere), the third episode introduces two supporting characters, as well as some other background performers. Greg (Tom Long) is the new man in Em’s life. Unfortunately, he will also be Frank’s new psychiatrist, which becomes the main storyline in the episode. Frank breaks into the office of his retiring shrink, steals his personal file, only for it to fall back into the hands of Greg who is just moving into the office. Frank spends the duration of the episode trying to seize the file before Greg has a chance to read it and discover how unhinged he really is.
Ollie’s grandmother is also introduced in a subplot that sees the two making art with glitter while Em goes out. Their only instruction is to keep glitter off the floor. The inevitable happens, and while it seems unclear whether Nana Prue (Robyn Arthur) is Frank’s mother or Em’s, the clumsiness doesn’t discriminate through the generational divide.
Cashmere displays particular comic timing in the opening scene where she rides upon Frank’s shoulders in a basketball game, with only her face exposed with their joined bodies cloaked by an extended uniform. However, the episode’s highlight surrounds Frank becoming inadvertently drunk at a country club/golf course while pursuing Greg. Woodley fails his lanky body around, masterfully swinging his limbs with comic hysteria. Another favourite moment sees Frank’s rarely heard voice bursting out in the high, anxious shrill that could deafen a 90-year-old.
Woodley is a joy to watch thanks to the performers, Trent O’Donnell’s direction and Mal Webb’s terrific score. Its narrative expansion sees endless possible hazardous situations for Frank to find himself caught in.
Woodley airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC1. Woodley also screens on ABC2 and iView. Click here to read past episode reviews.