11 July 2013 | CherryBlossomBoy
Painful at best
Admittedly, this will be a very unfair and sweeping review, as I decided five minutes of watching were enough to assess this attempt at situation comedy. The series does have an audience and has seen a couple of seasons on the national TV, so perhaps it has some qualities to it, some redeeming elements... or it's just the fact that the competition is even worse, or whoever financed it didn't care about the ratings.
"Stipe u gostima", as a project, has an almost charitable quality to it, as in "let's give struggling actors something to do". Everything is so run-of-the-mill, so "by the book", one has to ask: what's the point?
The show is conceived around the same old cultural contrasts and stereotypes in Croatia: generational gap and tensions between rural and urban Croatia as well as between coastal and inland Croatia. To that end the main premise was built around an aging Dalmatian, Stipe (from the title) and his visit to his son and his family in Croatian capital of Zagreb - and all the "funny stuff" was supposed to arise from that. Otherwise those contrasts indeed serve as a never-ending source of jokes and jabs and other exchanges between communities in Croatian culture. Supposedly, that's what attracts audience to televised efforts like this in the first place. However, it all backfired here and created nothing but boredom.
It's all down to realisation, nothing else. Disinterested and depersonalized direction resulted in slow pace, bad timing and a complete absence of cinematic feel. Put in another way: camera positioning, editing and lighting make it look as if you're watching a live broadcast from a local theatre. It's not that the director had much to work with - each episode consists of a bad plot, a couple of jokes that are supposed to be stretched over half an hour and a contrived and forced dialogue. But still - a little more concentration and guts could have made all the difference. Unfortunately, directors that are versed in comedy (and, indeed, direction) are scarce in Croatia.
Same goes for actors. Bad deliveries all around. What they're doing is a read- through - not acting. Even the worst stereotypical and predictable script can work if actors put a little thought and experiment in it. I've seen it elsewhere, but not here. It's sad to see otherwise charming Filip Rados, struggling this way through what is his lead debut. He's able to do it better but he was obviously lost in format he wasn't accustomed to. Other actors are more experienced but that experience adds not to quality but to self-complacency and laziness. Nobody takes sitcoms seriously - it's just a gig alongside work in theatre.
Anyway, enough with that. Regurgitating corny crap is nothing new in Croatian sitcoms. Doesn't even bother me all that much. It's just that I was so hugely irritated by relentless whistling in the title track (which was completely unnecessary addition to an unusually awful musical theme) that I had to blow off some steam somehow.