Mondays between 8.30 and 9.30pm is SBS TV's 'bad taste' timeslot. This is when South Park and John Safran as well as Krank Yankers are broadcast.
Of course, this is also when Paulie Fenech's Pizza is served.
I have had an off and on relationship with Pizza primarily because taken as standalone experience, watching it is so exhausting. It is an extraordinarily mercurial fire cracker of a farce which is unlike anything else you are likely to come upon on TV.
It's rude, crude, obscene and outrageously non stop as it explodes in its 30 minute grabs.
Last Monday, the series finale ran for 60 minutes and to sit through that long of Pizza is a challenge to the senses. This was Toula's wedding episode which got madder and more violent (Punch and Judy violence is a Pizza standard) as it assumed a frenetic pace that kept on going through the closing credits.
This particular episode bore all the Pizza components especially with a Arabic speaking father in law -- dressed in an orange jump suit and fresh out of Camp Ex-Ray -- running around with a gun seeking Americans to kill and a talking foetus (which we were introduced to just as soon as Toula fell pregnant a few weeks back).
You watch this and think: am I allowed to laugh or what? I was observing the others in my lounge room at the time and all shared mesmerized faces and you could see the jaws drop every now and then as the on screen mayhem took a turn for the worse.
But Pizza has some of the highest production values on TV. Each episode under Paulie Fenech deft touch is a text book exercise in sharp editing and camera work such that it should be a requisite on any how to video course. The fast moving action and camera angling drives the storyline along as all these sequences collide with one another as the action shifts all over the place -- well, all over the Sydney western suburbs, at least. And it is funny--and amazing.
If there is a problem with Pizza it lies with its disdain for women and gays. Women are either ‘fat over demanding bitches’(to employ a handy sterotypical phrase) or svelte objects of lust. As for gays, they’re simply open season.
I think thats’ rude and impolite to treat people so harshly and crudely like that. Without rattling off the standard buzz terms of mysognyy and homophobia -- it’s true that Pizza seems to fail the standard political correctness test.
Pizza's standard working tool is stereoptypes: Lebboes, Chocoes, Chicks,Poofs, Chinks, name it, they're all fair game. But then, the everyday pizza bloke doesn’t come off too well either.The core of Pizza is this gang of multicultural testosterone driven males who are stuck in this dead end low paid existence of pizza delivery. All they have going for themselves is sex, alcohol and drugs and maybe a hotted up car that can do a great doughnut if pushed to the floor.
So when you step back from Pizza and stop trying to be moral about it it becomes a much more evocative reflection of the suburbia that may actually exist outside of the set for Neighbours.
After working through my shock and awe I’m beginning to accept Pizza at a very different level than when I first encountered it.
What do you think?