New series ★★★★
Sunday 8.30pm, Showcase
If you were going to make a series about a bloke crossing the continent accompanied only by his piano (and no, that’s not a euphemism), it’d have to star Tim Minchin, wouldn’t it? The only surprise is this is not his wholly original idea: Upright is actually the baby of Chaser alumnus Chris Taylor, but Minchin also co-wrote and produced, and the terrific Matt Saville (Please Like Me) directs. It’s a particularly successful collaboration, and in a year of fantastic local productions (Lambs of God and Total Control, to name just two) this one’s a standout. Minchin’s inappropriately named Lucky is travelling cross-country in a clapped out sedan to visit his dying mother in Perth. He’s packed light: just his piano and his anti-anxiety meds. He hasn’t got far when he runs into (very minor spoiler) teenage Meg (the very talented Milly Alcock), and so begins a classic odd-couple road trip that hits all the familiar notes but still manages to surprise, delight, and occasionally have you reaching for the tissues. It’s great to see another show making creative use of our landscapes: the dry interior is blasted one moment, enchanted the next. And the whole thing is both quintessentially Australian and deliciously unexpected.