Bureaucracy. Well-intentioned yet incompetent. Even meddling. We’ve all experienced it, but for Tony (Rob Sitch) it’s his work life. Welcome to Utopia.
The team from Working Dog have again nailed it with this new satirical comedy looking at the joys of working with government departments and how the minutiae can overtake and derail any hope of getting things done. The fictional-yet-oh-so-real Nation Building Authority exists to bring the dreams and visions of politicians to fruition – they specialise in large infrastructure projects of national significance.
You can already see how this will eat itself.
Government liaison Jim (Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann) remains perpetually upbeat and oblivious to the chaos he causes while Marketing Manager Rhonda (Kitty Flanagan) politely yet firmly ensures her agenda is met come hell or high water. Karsten – with a “T” – (Toby Truslove) always has a grand plan or is revisioning or something and Rhonda LOVES him for it (she’s a believer). Tony’s only ally, his second in charge Nat (Celia Pacquola), is as exasperated as him at not being able to achieve pretty much anything except feasibility studies, planning meetings and arborist reports.
Like any office it’s full of nice, well-meaning people. Hugh (Luke McGregor) is Nat’s assistant and maintains a professional approach at all times while perpetually reminding her of just how hard it is to get things done. Scott (Dave Lawson) is a nice guy – but what does he actually do? Katie (Emma-Louise Wilson) will do anything to help Tony as his PA… if only she understood what it all meant. Amy (Michelle Lim Davidson) runs the office and reception about as efficiently as you can expect from someone who struggles to keep up with what day it is. Add to this cameos and special guest spots from people like Dave O’Neill & Franklin Ajaye and it’s a wonderful mix.
Like all Working Dog productions, the casting remains key and the core team are spot on with their characterisations. The nuanced blank looks and scripted “and thens” will suck you into this office of doom and have you laughing at the inanity of it all and scared at how close to the bone it all is.
Sitch directs with ease and co-writers Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner again offer a unique insight into the small, petty things that are often unmentioned but grate on all of us. Utopia delivers another reminder why the Working Dog team of Sitch, Cilaruo, Gleisner, Jane Kennedy & Michael Hirsh are one of the best in the business. It’s simply very bloody good.
For further insight enjoy this interview with Rob Sitch discussing the development of the series, the research process, casting decisions and more…
Utopia: Nation Building – One White Elephant At A Time (8 eps) – starts Wed 8:30pm, ABC.