For anyone who’s ever trudged back home despite your greatest reservations to spend quality time with a dysfunctional family at Christmas, this ABC comedy goes out to you…

A Moody Christmas, the new comedy brain child of Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell, tells the story of the Moody family – each installment dealing with the events of a consecutive Christmas.

Youngest son and ‘straight man’ Dan Moody (Ian Meadows) is pitched as the main character, inexplicably flying from London to Sydney every year to take part in extended festive celebrations, but the show’s strength in comedy is undeniably an ensemble effort.

Along for the Christmas cheer is Patrick Brammall, Danny Adcock, Tina Bursill, Phil Lloyd, Darren Gilshenan, Guy Edmonds, Rachel Gordon, Robin Beard, Tina Bursill and Jane Harber. If none of those actors sound familiar to you, then you won’t be alone. Most of them aren’t from a comedy background, nor have many notable roles to speak of.

Rest assured though that this is one program where familiarity would perhaps be more damaging than anything. As a group they function effectively and realistically – squabbling with each other, supporting each other, Forcing themselves to spend the Christmas holiday together like only a family can.

The sharp writing of O’Donnell and Lloyd really helps fill in the gaps.The situations are realistic enough, but still slightly outrageous. While my dad has never tried to dig a pool in the backyard by himself, I can imagine it happening. I’ve got a uncle who will talk you to death, and a relative who manages to bring up her job in every sentence.

I’ve only seem the first two episodes, I’m eager to see how the show progresses. It’s a neat narrative trick to tell the story the way it does, and the momentary snapshot shows that the characters develop from one episode to the next. While it deserves kudos for staying true to this structure – there are events between episodes that go largely unexplained – it sometimes leaves you trying to work out what’s happened in the intermediate year.

The Moody family is close enough to the truth to keep you laughing, but hopefully not too close. It’s a sharp, well written comedy that will put you in the festive spirit.

A Moody Christmas starts 31st October at 8:30pm on ABC1. It will be, appropriately, rushed out on DVD just in time for Christmas.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngSAnwEA_AQ[/youtube]

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