This isn’t exactly going to be an unbiased review. I personally think Frank Woodley is one of those few people who can make you laugh just by watching him walk down the street. To hear in 2011 he was developing his own series for TV made me conjure all sorts of visions as to what it might be… surely it would include some physical comedy; there’d have to be some mis-directed humour at the cost of the situation; and it would be Frank at his character-filled best. I was not disappointed.
The opening three minutes of the first episode of Woodley is classic physical comedy, with only one word spoken. The entire first episode contains no more than 20 words of dialogue. The chemistry between Woodley (Frank Woodley) & Ollie (Alexandra Cashmere) is evident, as if actually father & daughter. You feel the mix of love and disappointment that Em (Justine Clarke) has when it comes to Woodley, and recognise that living with such a clumsy character would indeed drive a partner to distraction.
It’s refreshing to watch a series that isn’t afraid to open the viewer to what happens on screen without spoon-feeding it to them in the dialogue. Each individual scene stands alone yet works well with the next, and the next. More importantly the acting preserves the messages and communicates them in ways we’ve not seen for a while – we identify with Woodley in his desperation to reconcile with Em; his desire to show his love for his daughter and not let her down; yet he can’t help but be distracted, such is his life. Em falls in love with someone else in the series and Woodley’s determination grows stronger – but can he communicate to Em just how he feels?
From Woodley in an egg suit to one of the most amazing bicycles you’ll see going around, every part of Woodley is designed to engage and delight. Clarke and Cashmere are understated yet strong in their performances, though the star undoubtedly is Woodley and the ease with which he delivers some very difficult set pieces. A sign of a performer who continues to develop & mature in his craft with each opportunity presented to him.
It’s a smart and warm eight part romantic comedy series, Chaplin-esque in delivery, worthy of the same accolades as the great silent film actor. Woodley will make you chortle heartily, cringe in pain, smile at the humanity, cry with the disappointment, and laugh out loud at pretty much everything in between. After slapping him across the face for being frustrating you’ll just want to envelop Woodley in a hug and tell him it’s gonna be OK. With a series like this – it sure will be.
Woodley – Wed 8pm, ABC1.