Dreamland (TV Review)

Dreamland (TV Review)

Originally called Utopia when it aired, the Australian series Dreamland follows the lives and projects of the folks at the National Building Authority, as they try to make Australia a better place with their grand projects for nation-building.

Naturally, it is the collision of big dreams and massive bureaucracy that provides Dreamland with the central conflict, and main comedy of the series. Right off the bat, there are many similarities between this show, and the British comedy Twenty Twelve, where they are trying to plan out the London Olympics (read my review of it here: Twenty Twelve).

With so many large projects on the go, it is the endless small things that continually get in the way for our likable nation builders at the NBA. Trying to keep everybody happy, while at the same time actually trying to get something done, provides for the humourous tension that we see throughout the series. It could also be compared, at points, to The Office, where incompetence provides a constant stumbling block for the characters actually determined to do their jobs.

dream2Dreamland serves as a political satire, and provides plenty of humour throughout. There are characters that are there to throw wrenches in all of the plans, and the seemingly endless issues that come up with each and every thing that the competent characters try to get done. It is fun to watch them struggle around, as their company is constantly spinning its tires, coming up with over-the-top new ideas, while simply trying to get to Stage 2 on any projects that they have actually been able to get green-lighted.

While every city has its troubles with planning and design, at times it feels like Dreamland ventures into the realm of reality. It could be easy to see planners in any place having to jump through the same hoops in order to get a project underway. Even the smallest project could be derailed by some fringe group that has one complaint or another about how it will be developed, or executed.

Dreamland is a fun watch. It is light, and full of enjoyable characters. From battles over the company logo, to appeasing bikers, to the prospect of building a massive bridge from Australia to Tasmania, the show is full of the ridiculous bickering that manages to stall good ideas and continue to contribute to the cycle of bureaucracy that helps get nothing done when it comes to government issues. Here, we are provided with a light look at how it all goes wrong, and are able to enjoy the ride. Dreamland doesn’t require a heavy viewer investment, and with an 8-episode season, it is easily digestible on Netflix.

The show is a good in-between when you are stuck in Netflix purgatory, and cannot decide which series will be next for you. A few enjoyable hours of watching bumbling Aussies just trying to get something done. Dreamland is fun.

Storm Surfers (TV Review)

Storm Surfers (TV Review)

Since it’s summer, my Netflix selections often go to simple shows. At this point, my brain is shut off, and I want something that will entertain me. I can save shows that will make me think for the winter months. For now, I just want to see people do summery things.

Like surf.

Long fascinated with big waves, and the mighty destruction that they can cause, I have watched my share of surf shows. It is pretty entertaining, and seeing people wipe out on massive swells is terrifying.

surfThis lead me to Storm Surfers, a show about a couple of Australian surf legends that have created a small team to help them track and surf the biggest storms of the Australian winter. They are looking to ride some of the biggest waves, or the heaviest pipes, that they can find.

I’ll make this review pretty simple, because the premise of the show is pretty simple. At only a few episodes, this one is digested easily, but offers some pretty decent entertainment.

The characters are both very likable. They have been surfing together, and best friends, for 25 years, and one of the best parts of the show is them sniping at one another like an old married couple. They are entertaining, and you don’t mind investing some time into watching their stories.

The show itself is pretty formulaic. Nerdy guy with the fancy computers sees a storm coming on some part of the continent. The guys, nearing 50-years old and worn down after decades of abuse from surfing, discuss their ailments. Then they quickly pack and head down to whichever part of Australia the storm is coming to. The storm will probably produce the biggest waves of the season (every storm seems to do this). We rarely see this kind of storm. The guys get there, weather threatens their chances to surf, and it is always extremely dangerous. They could die. Then they surf.

The idea is simple, but it works. Getting to see these guys surf some pretty dangerous waves is fun, even though we always know that they are going to be okay.

Since they are older, they are using high end technology to help them out, and since it is winter, they are always surfing in cold conditions. This sort of takes away the idea of surfing as this beach bum, laid-back lifestyle, but it still works. The old guys still give it their best shot, whenever their bodies will permit them to. Along the way, they meet up with other famous surfers, and often meet with locals to get the lay of the land, so to speak, on the area that they are surfing during that episode.

In the end, there are other films, or shows, that demonstrate some bigger wave riding. These guys aren’t chasing 50-footers, but they are looking for good pipe waves. They get some impressive, and frightening ones, but they are more in the 12-foot range.

If you are looking for some time to kill, and like watching a couple of humorous older people surfing, then Storm Surfers is the right ticket. Worth the watch.