Gary Sweey, Gyton Grantley, Rhys Muldoon, Firass Dirani.

Four Dads, from seemingly disconnected backgrounds, are thrust together through no other bond than the existence of a Y chromosome. It may be a jungle out there, but it’s sure as hell a jungle in here (the playground before and after school) too. Welcome to House Husbands.

Justin (Firass Dirani) is in the midst of a messy break up/custody battle, and has been sacked from his AFL team – disgraced (“The kids don’t need a screw up.”). The bills are mounting, and his ex-manage has taken up with his wife. Mark (Rhys Muldoon) is trying to get back into the workforce while his doctor wife Abi (Natalie Saleeba) is working her fingers to the bone.

Lewis (Gary Sweet) has just sold his house building business and is at a loose end, contemplating retirement. His wife Gemma (Julia Morris) is a very sensible, loving woman who works as a nurse with Abi at the hospital. Kane (Gyton Grantley), Abi’s brother, shares the parenting with his partner Tom (Tim Campbell), though Kane has his own dark, shameful secret.

Then just when you think you’ve got it all worked out – the kids steal the school bus.

Channel 9 have drawn together a spectacular cast for their new family drama series, and it’s the relationships that make it an absolute winner. Not only are the four male leads strong in each of their characters but the script offers them good play to flesh out their on-screen personas and develop them into believable living, breathing blokes with no idea. Their long suffering partners only add to the chemistry.

Grantley is a delight as the supportive stay-at-home dad with a pie business on the side, and it’s no stretch to see he and Campbell as a committed pair. Dirani’s athleticism sells the AFL backstory well (though he isn’t very tall – a midfielder?), and Justin’s turmoil over being Dad vs a career sportsman, let alone the secrecy around his shame at being dumped from his last team, is well layered. Muldoon channels a sweet and blustery Colin Firth and while he shares the screen with his cast mates well it’s very hard to not to be fixated by his superior sublety and ease in performance. Julia Morris & Gary Sweet make the best TV husband and wife since Dave & Julie Rafter – one eyebrow raise by Gemma over Lewis’s actions tells a thousand endearing stories.

With House Husbands Channel 9 look to be on a real winner (and they need to be). The performances are all very strong and the cast merge on-screen as if they’ve been friends forever. The stories of the families are original and have room to grow in myriad directions, allowing the plot to be anything but linear and developing good light and shade; the soft touches between the couples are a delight to watch and add great depth to each family.

Viewers will quickly develop a real empathy and connection with the characters, and it’s this that is a clear strength for House Husbands – people will care about what happens to their new friends. House Husbands is a smart, fun, heart-warming drama series that will be a very positive addition to Nine’s weekly schedule.

House Husbands – Sundays 8:30pm, Ch9.