22 December 2014 | alex239-545-53158
No surprise most of the kids went onto bigger things
Mortified was a short lived kids drama set on the Gold Coast, cancelled after 26 episodes in 2007. There is plenty of sunshine, beaches, and the one thing a disproportionate number of Australian kids shows focus on - parental embarrassment.
Taylor Fry being ashamed of her eccentric parents is essentially the premise for this enjoyable if unsubstantial program, which is unfortunate since the plot lines that veer down that avenue range from unrealistic to cringe worthy to plain bad. Almost all the adult characters are badly drawn and badly acted, overblown caricatures which may get over with young kids but to anyone else will stink of bad writing and ideas that should never have made it past the creative room.
The show could definitely use greater focus on the kids. They are all very solid actors, especially Marny Kennedy who is confident and spirited in the title role, and Maia Mitchell who adds some complexity to her character and the relationship with her parents (who have great chemistry). This is the most interesting and well constructed part of the show. No surprise that she went on to be a major star in America. Nicholas Dunn is pretty good as the perennially exasperated Hector, and Dajana Cahill puts in a fun and realistic performance in a limited role as selfish boy crazy big sister Layla. The way the characters interact are the prime reason to watch Mortified, and invariably the scenes with them hanging out or talking are the most natural and enjoyable - such as when the core four get lost on a trip into the jungle and sit round the fire.
Low key moments like this are a pleasant respite since few of the actual plot lines are compelling or memorable - most are framed around a shaky premise that seems formulaic and stolid and just doesn't hold the attention. It doesn't help that Taylor isn't especially a likable character - she is delusional and melodramatic, spending most of her time complaining and acting ungrateful. Long suffering Hector draws more of a response, his occasionally laconic remarks saving him from being completely wet. Brittany is as mentioned the more complex of the characters, but 'school heartthrob' Luke is purely a plot device, and seems to have few traits that go beyond supposedly comedic stupidity and cocky cuteness for the girls to swoon over.
Despite all the criticisms, this show is pretty good. The acting is a step ahead of most of the dross on the kids channels, the writing and dialog is usually reasonably solid, and each episode is a fun, clean, easy to digest piece of television that will appeal to a lot of kids, especially girls. Although this review is from the perspective of an adult, my young niece with whom I watched it enjoyed the show and agreed with my assessment that this is pleasant, family entertainment which falls short of being essential due to a lack of excitement, drama and engrossing story lines.