The cast of ABC1's A Moody Christmas. Photo: Mark Rogers

The ABC is showing a new comedy that highlights the pressures placed on families over Christmas, writes Christina Ueltzen.

Christmas comes with expectations, many of which are unrealistic.

Among all the cheer and loveliness the yearly celebration brings, relatives invariably fight, kids cry, turkeys are burnt and credit cards cop a hiding.

It is the unrealistic expectations and the pressures they place on people that have proven Christmas to be the stuff of many television and movie comedies over the years.

Four Holidays, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Bad Santa and Trading Places were hugely successful Christmas movie fare, and many popular television shows have had episodes centred around Christmas, such as Everybody loves Raymond, Friends and Modern Family.
This week, ABC 1 is releasing a new six-episode comedy drama ― A Moody Christmas ― where the focus is also on the festive day.

Once again, filmmaking traditions can be recognised in this new show, too, but in a quintessentially Australian style, along the likes of The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding and Kath & Kim, where a sarcastic yet empathetic sense of humour rules the plot.

A Moody Christmas, created and co-produced by Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell, is however not bawdy comedy as the humour is at times very underplayed and may not evoke the belly laugh you may be hoping for. Although, depending on the episode and how much you can identify with the characters, you may just find yourself roaring with laughter nonetheless.

For example, if you have ever had to work with your father, desperately tried to fall pregnant or fallen in love with inappropriate people, well, then this may just be the show for you.

The basic storyline of A Moody Christmas is this: An extended family gets together for Christmas each year and the episodes chart the evolution of the family members over six separate Christmases, resulting in the events of each year summarised in one day.

The episodes start with the lead character, young professional photographer Dan Moody (Ian Meadows), who lives in London throughout the year and makes an annual trip back to his hometown in time for Christmas. From his departure at Heathrow airport, the story develops.

Guy Edmonds plays Hayden in A Moody Christmas. Photo: Mark Rogers

The key characters in A Moody Christmas are familiar actors ― most of them have had significant previous television exposure. One key member of the cast, Guy Edmonds who plays Hayden in the show, said when asked if the show is a comedy drama: “Look, I’d say it’s a black comedy drama … TV genre has seen a shift. There was a time when TV shows were just a drama or just a comedy but audiences are getting a lot more savvy now.

“A show doesn’t have to be just one or the other and I think Moody Christmas is definitely the sort of show where I would hope, in most episodes, there are moments when you are laughing, there are moments where you are shocked, and [moments] where you, you know, may cry a little.”  Overall though, he said, it’s a comedy.

Warwick Clarke, an independent scriptwriter and producer, said after viewing A Moody Christmas: “Compared to what’s on TV at the moment, X-Factor, Brynne, Survivor, it’s a breath of fresh air, in comparison to that it deserves an Emmy award. The Moody’s are worth a visit. Pay them a visit and see if you’ll spend your Christmas with them.”
A Moody Christmas premieres on ABC1, Wednesday, 31 October at 8.30pm.
View the trailer: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/amoodychristmas