REVIEW: The Time Of Our Lives Episode 1
Sunday 16 saw the debut of TIME OF OUR LIVES, a new ABC drama featuring many stars of Australian television doing their best.
THE TIME OF OUR LIVES is another in a long line of Australian extended-family drama series. In this category, THE TIME OF OUR LIVES is trying very hard to stand alongside the likes of The Slap, Tangle, Packed To The Rafters and the Australian TV masterpiece Love My Way. However, there are series of glaring missteps in plotting and dialogue which hold this episode back from ever even seeing the heights of those aforementioned series.
This first episode opens with a collection of short scenes introducing a handful of characters preparing themselves for a wedding ceremony. These scenes achieve their purpose of introducing the character, their personalities and their relationships with each other – although, it fails if it was ever intending to be interesting. But then before you know it, the groom is a no-show at the wedding, the bride disappears and the restaurant full of guests erupts into a chaos of worry and shock.
The rest of the proceedings follow the aftermath of the doomed weeding celebrations. We experience glimpses of the other family and their issues, such as Caroline (Claudia Karvan) and a mysterious Matt Tivolli (William McInnes) coming to terms with the fact their son may not be the genius they had thought, or hoped; Bernadette (Justine Clarke) and Luce (Shane Jacobson) playing a painfully in-love and happy couple dealing with money problems and a ex-wife; and in the background of all this is Herb (Stephen Curry) being everyones friend, while have chemistry with the pre and post-bride Chai Li (Michelle Vergara Moore). However, at the centre of all of this is Chai Li and her failed wedding, which is by far the major flaw of what I watched.
This is a problem because we as an audience are asked to care for both a failed relationship and a woman we know nothing about. We are told countless times that Chai Li loved this man and wanted to be happy, yet the one moment we see him he is distant. We are also told by people that they didn’t like him or that they aren’t surprised by his actions. So, Chai Li spends the episode wailing about town and we are supposed to care?
From my perspective, the wedding just seemed as though it was a device to introduce us to these characters. Everything about this episode felt like an introduction. Which, obviously should be a good thing, we need to know who these people are, but the first five minutes did this, but then the episode just continued. Just so we really were sure. THE TIME OF OUR LIVES holds us and point out with an extended hand exactly everything we should be looking at. There is no discovery, no intrigue, and no interest. On a second viewing I thought I might see something more, maybe some themes, or ideas that would link, reflect or juxtapose each other in some way. Really, I wanted anything that seemed like there was a specific purpose as to why these stories all existed together. But nothing. Just a handful of stories in one hour of television because the characters are blood related.
Overall, episode 1 of THE TIME OF OUR LIVES is a collection of run-of-the-mill story lines we have all seen countless times elsewhere. It has a mostly spectacular cast that are under-utilised, and even trapped in under cooked ideas. And, it is also the first of a 13 episode series, how it will find enough material to fill out the next 12 hours is a mystery to me because it seems at though it struggled to find enough for just this one episode.
Watch the trailer for Episode 2 below.
Words by Luke Letourneau