Summer Heights High (DVD)

Much like the first season of Arrested Development, HBO’s cult comedy Summer Heights High is wildly cherished by those few lucky enough to have somehow stumbled across it, meanwhile try and describe the premise to anyone unaware of the show and chances are the blank stare will remind of just how small that cult surrounding the show actually is right now.

Shown on HBO, the eight-episode Australian series is finally out on DVD and will likely lead to a ton of exposure for this brilliant comedy, as word of mouth spreads to those who missed the two month run of the show. The series, a massive ratings success in Australia, is a mockumentary in the vein of Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Summer Heights High centers around three characters at a suburban public high school: Mr. G, a self-absorbed drama teacher with a Broadway-sized ego; Jonah, a 13-year-old, self-absorbed delinquent Pacific Islander obsessed with break dancing and spreading his phallic graffiti tag around the school; and Ja’mie, a…well, self-absorbed, wealthy exchange student from a private school, spending a semester slumming it with the public school kids at Summer Heights High.

All three characters are played flawlessly by Chris Lilley (also responsible for creating and writing the series). The humor is sharp, and brave, with very few subjects are off limits. The highlight of the series is a musical, written by Mr. G about a Summer Heights High student who recently overdosed on Ecstasy, and “was known to be a bit of a slut.” By the final episode, the uneasy realization starts to sink in that Summer Heights High was written as a one-time, eight-episode series, and these characters will never be back. We can only hope Lilley is in the middle of his next brilliant series.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Summer Heights High /2009 HBO /240 Minutes / http://www.hbo.com/summerheightshigh

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