love is a four letter word: articles

O'Connor on TV

ARISSA has slept with Paul, best friend of Angus who's sleeping with her sister Albee who's had a fling with Campbell.

Angus doesn't know about Campbell, being preoccupied with the fallout of his own rampant libido which has caused Juliette, his father's cleaning lady, to fall pregnant.

Albee and Paul and Angus each own a third share in a pub, a triumvirate about to be shattered by Paul's desire to impress a girl.

Paul is the self-proclaimed stud of the group and will do anything to achieve sexual liftoff.

To this end, he jumps up and down on the bonnet of an expensive car, hopeful of impressing the object of his desires with his disdain for the trappings of the bourgeoisie.

Such social statements are best made at the expense of your own bourgeois trappings, not somebody else's.

His defence when coralled by the law—that he was only trying to get laid—fails to save him from prosecution and if he doesn't sell his share of the pub to pay for the damage, he will go to jail.

Enter Angus's dad Bernie, who has the money to buy him out but who wants to install—shock! horror! shudder!—poker machines, those devices of the devil and Mammon so despised by the pub's young, music-hungry clientele.

Poker machines aside, will Bernie still want to bail out the partners if and when he discovers that one of them, his son, has impregnated his girlfriend, Juliette the cleaning lady, leaving Bernie to be father to his own grandson?

Albee, who shares a bed with Angus in the pub, is unaware of his impending paternity and is busy trying to defuse Campbell's mounting demands for their one night stand to turn into a regular booking.

If Love Is A Four Letter Word sounds complex, then it is only because it is.

Set in and around the inner city Sydney-like pub named The Courthouse, this Australian-produced, 26-part series, which premieres on the ABC next week, can rightly claim to have a different feel to those similar productions which have gone before it.

It is possessed of a good look and blessed with the virtue of occasional shafts of humour as the principal characters interact around the business of running a pub.

It is pitched at a young market which should not preclude older viewers from tuning to it for on the basis of the two episodes which I have seen, it works quite well.

Not all of the dialogue is convincing and there are some characters, such as that of the arch-bitch publisher Maya Fink, who fail to strike a chord.

Garry McDonald, playing an alcoholic author, is a welcome addition to the cast.

Leeanna Walsman (Looking for Alibrandi) gives a standout performance as Albee's sister Larissa, expelled from school by the good sisters for being "sexually precocious", and is a star in the rising to be sure.

Love Is A Four Letter Word isn't television's answer to brain surgery and doesn't attempt to be.

According to the publicity material, it "follows the lives of a group of young people working and living in an inner city pub. In their own way, each of them is trying to make sense of the madness that is modern living".

That is putting too much of a philosophical spin on it. Forget the philosophy and view it, instead, as a fresh mixture of comedy and drama with an equally fresh and capable cast in a production with a uniquely Australian flavour.

It's not spellbinding but it is enjoyable, unassuming and entertaining television.

By Mike O'Connor
January 25, 2001