The Ex-PM, Episode 5

Andrew Dugdale: I don’t know about being played by a comedian

The big mystery on this week’s episode of The Ex-PM is of course who the man on the ABC with the grey hair and glasses is. It’s not Tony Jones, it’s some funny guy, who may or may not be Shaun Micallef himself, but then Andrew wants Tony Jones after the Lachy Hulme fiasco. Other options discussed for the two part miniseries based on ‘Drew Dug’ (as Lachy liked to call him) included George Clooney, as well as the one who plays Thor – or his brother.

As we all know by now, Andrew Dugdale is a master procrastinator. I’d be interested to see how many weeks or months Ellen has been staying there, trying to ghostwrite a biography out of whatever Andrew’s giving her. He uses the book to get out of doing an ad for a charity that does something for children with anaphylaxis, and then he has a conversation with his business manager who I’m just going to call John Clarke because he’s basically plaing all of his characters from Clarke and Dawe but as a dodgy businessman, and suddenly there’s going to be a telemovie, or perhaps a miniseries of his life.

There are some important questions, like who will play Andrew? Of course he wants Clooney, Ellen and Sonny want the grey haired guy with glasses who works at the ABC, and then they land on Lachy Hulme because Catherine has a crush on him. Given that Andrew knows his wife is cheating on him, this is a pretty terrible idea. Unfortunately for Catherine, Lachy seems to have eyes for Ellen, which makes sense because they both want the same thing: to learn something about Andrew that reveals remotely who he is as a person. Andrew has been performing for the public for so long that he can’t stop. If he didn’t want someone ghost writing his memoirs for him, he should have written the book himself. We know as little about Andrew Dugdale as Ellen and Lachy. Politicians’ careers are dependent on them bein liked, or at least respected, by the public. He was Australia’s third-longest serving Prime Minister in this alternate universe, so there should be a reasonable market for the book itself. He agreed to it because of the size of the advance, but what is he so afraid of revealing?

So Andrew distracts Ellen from the book by asking her to write a few scenes for this hypothetical miniseries, so we have a play within a play. Between this and Lachy Hulme, the household is sent into a tizzy, albeit a minor one. Miles and Catherine both ask Ellen if they’ll be characters, and after Catherine asks, she says yes, she’ll be an amalgam with the security guard, and they’ll be killed with the ghost writer. Catherine also asks Ellen if Lachie would take a selfie and sign her DVD box set of Offspring, and Ellen said sure, celebrities love doing that kind of thing. My favourite part of the episode was Miles and Curtis discussing who they’d want to have play them in the miniseries. Miles wants the guy who plays Thor (I know we’re talking Hemsworths here, but it’s funnier when it’s said like that), and Francis wants the guy who used to go out with Lara Bingle – “Michael Clarke” – “yeah, that’s him” – “he’s a cricketer!” – “but a very good one” – you can’t really argue with that.

The minniseries was a good way for Drew Dug to get out of doing the book, but Lachy wanted to shadow the Ex-PM, so he could get to the truth of the character. Suddenly Andrew is able to do the ad for charity with his daughter (a nurse) and grandson, who is allergic to peanuts. So everyone except the household staff comes along to the factory to shoot the ad for nut free custers in the warehouse where they’re packaged. Also packaged there: a bunch of products with nuts. Anyway, Lachy thought the ad needed some improvement, so he jumped in to help, and Andrew thought it was a better idea to throw the food into Lachy’s mouth than his grandson’s. I think this is the first time we’ve seen Andrew show real concern for a family member, so it was a good character moment. Although he did also tell his grandson not to eat that peanut brittle that one time. Needless to say, the throwing food into the mouth stunt didn’t work, and Lachy ended up in the hospital. Andrew offered to pay for everything, but the doctor said it wasn’t necessary: this is a public hospital, and despite all of Andrew’s best efforts when he was PM, they remain open.

Other thoughts:

  • The bit where they were thinking of who should play other Ex-PMs was great, which they expanded to an international cast. I personally would love to see Tilda Swinton play Julia Gillard. She would do that mysoginy speech justice.
  • I re-watched the episode because my mum hadn’t seen it, so I got the others: Bob Hoskins as John Howard, John Goodman as Kim Beazley and Johnny Galecki as Christopher Pyne.
  • Kim Carr is the only politician with a beard, and no one wants to watch a movie about him.
  • William McInnis ruined SeaChange for Andrew, which is a great cultural reference to my favourite Australian television show and Shaun Micallef’s role.
  • Speaking of SeaChange, if you want to know if Shaun Micallef is a good actor, watch him be the most boring person in this show incredibly convincingly, as opposed to just himself.
  • The whole scene at the packaging factory and ‘may contain traces’ was on point; I live in a family with many allergies and some anaphylaxis, and it felt very real.

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