"Life Support is here for you!"Life Support
was an Australian cult comedy series that aired on SBS
between 2001 and 2003, and parodied lifestyle shows such as Better Homes And Gardens
while simultaneously using associated tropes to satirise the hell out of Australian society. A lot of its humour came from the hosts suggesting dangerous, dubious or often wildly illegal advice with completely straight faces.
The four main characters were:
- Sigourney, played by Rachael Coopes: an always-chipper blonde who taught modern women all about how to win men and use handicrafts to make the world a better place. Notably the only character to be played by the same actress for the entire run of the show.
- Todd, played by Brendan Cowell and later Duncan Fellows: a brash, masculine (and slightly dim) Handy Man.
- Penne, played by Abbie Cornish and later Alison Barnes: a streetwise juvenile delinquent who offered lessons in "how to scam The Man".
- Dr Rudi, played by Simon Van Der Stap and later Jack Finsterer (or so we're made to believe...): a slick, suave and completely amoral South African gynaecologist with all sorts of tips about health and wealth.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: An early episode has Dr Rudi advising men on how to make, ahem, "clearing the backlog" more interesting. As Penne pointed out to a disapproving Sigourney, "there's nothing like the satisfaction that comes from finishing a good do-it-yourself job".
- Later in the series he advocates public masturbation as a way to combat amateur musicians, amateur art critics and other... well... "wankers".
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Penne pulls this on a line of people queueing for concert tickets by wearing a fake Ticketek shirt and telling them the tour was cancelled.
- Brick Joke: A segment at the beginning of Episode 5 shows Penne preparing to steal a TV whose box she spotted in the owners' garbage. Later in the episode, she gives advice while on trial for that same theft.
- Call Back: There are a few nods throughout the series to earlier episodes.
- An ad for "Femme Brush", a do-it-yourself airbrushing cream spruiked by Sigourney, appears on Penne's TV an episode or two later.
- The first episode of Season 2 briefly shows Penne in a Chamber Mouth T-shirt, a band introduced in the second episode of Season 1.
- Catch Phrase: Each host has one.
- Sigourney: "As a modern woman..."
- Todd: "So take a tip from Todd..."
- Penne: "See ya!"
- Dr Rudi: "Howzit!" Becomes a plot point in the series finale - spoken in the familiar voice of the old Rudi, played by Simon Van Der Stap, who has come to confront the impostor about to marry Sigourney.
- The Casanova: Dr Rudi.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Served with a smile!
- Completely Missing the Point: One mailbag segment has the hosts treating a vitriolic complaint letter as glowing praise.
- Cooking Show:
- Parodied in Todd's recurring "Todd's Treat" segments, which involved Todd passing off ordinary food as fancy recipes - coffee as homemade Prozac, for example, or toasted beef stew sandwiches as spring rolls, or imitation crab meat as an exotic seafood delicacy.
- One especially amusing example involves Todd's response to a viewer letter complaining that lifestyle shows always showed the same tired old recipes, and requesting that Todd show them how to make a dish like they'd see in the country's finest restaurants. After several minutes of proudly pointing out to the viewers all the French cooking terms and ingredients he's using, Todd puts the finishing touches on... a Big Mac and fries.
That's the thing with restaurant recipes... they're always more expensive when you cook 'em with fresh verbs.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A lot of the advice handed out by the show. Parents gave you an embarrassing name? Have them arrested! Foreign friend invites herself to stay at your place? Make it impossible for her to enter the country and ruin her reputation! Guy doesn't call? Accuse him of date rape!
- The Ditz: Todd and Sigourney both have elements of this. Todd in particular once prematurely announced the end of a show in a segue, then had no idea what the next segment would be. It was his own segment.
- Dr. Jerk: Dr Rudi is the suave, charming and horribly amoral variety.
- Embarrassing First Name: See "My Nayme Is", below.
- Emo Teen: The phenomenon is parodied in one episode with a segment on "Chamber Mouth", a thankfully fictional depressive rock band whose lead singer permanently has a loaded shotgun in his mouth.
- Femme Fatale: Sigourney is prepared to have Penne sabotage an electrical substation to make sure the lighting at her boyfriend's house makes her look attractive.
- Handy Man: Todd. He's good with tools.
- I Banged Your Mom: Dr Rudi advocates the "wife" variant as a way to win arguments.
- The Lad-ette: Penne, Penne, Penne.
- Momma's Boy: Todd, amusingly enough, still has his mother do his laundry. He even asks her, on air, not to sew the sleeves back onto his shirts.
- My Nayme Is: Penne, pronounced "Penny". She's so unhappy with the spelling, she actually arranges for her parents to be arrested in Germany under an obscure local law.
- Nature Adores a Virgin: Penne suggests girls invoke this trope by lying about their virginity to potential sex partners.
- The Nth Doctor: For Season 3, Dr Rudi, originally played by Simon Van Der Stap, was replaced by Jack Finsterer. This was explained away as having had Magic Plastic Surgery to "look more heterosexual". Then it turned out that the new Rudi was an impostor, and the old Rudi showed up at his and Sigourney's wedding to take his life back.
- The Other Darrin: Played straight and lampshaded. Penne's actress, Abbie Cornish, left the show after the first season to pursue a film career, and was replaced with Alison Barnes. When Todd commented on Penne's different appearance, she reacted by showing some clips of scenes from Season 1 that had featured Abbie Cornish... re-shot to include Alison Barnes instead. On the other hand, absolutely nothing was said about the replacement of Brendan Cowell with Duncan Fellows as Todd in Season 3.
- Once an Episode: In Season 1 Sigourney cooking some increasingly ridiculous dish to end the show, much to Dr Rudi's consternation. Season 2 instead has Sigourney suggest some increasingly outlandish activity to do while waiting for the next episode.
- Precision F-Strike: Penne's reaction to the real Rudi's return in the series finale.
- Prison Rape: One of the Todd's Tips segments suggested plying rapist cellmates with romantic gestures so that it always happened "with a genuine sense of affection".
- Refuge in Audacity: And how!
- Stepford Smiler: Heavily implied with Sigourney.
- Story Arc: Though the show's format would seem to make arcs implausible, there is an ongoing storyline throughout Season 3: Dr Rudi, who has had Magic Plastic Surgery (and thus been replaced with a new actor), keeps receiving threatening letters in the mail, which appear in each episode's mailbag segment. It's revealed in the finale that these letters are from the old Dr Rudi, played by Simon Van Der Stap - the new Rudi, played by Jack Finsterer, is an impostor.
- The Talk: In true Life Support style, Dr Rudi suggests using an old porno movie to teach kids where babies come from. Sigourney helpfully chimes in and recommends the sound be turned down, so the kids "don't hear any nasty swearing".
- Turn of the Millennium: Satirised a lot of the issues relevant in Australia at the time (some of which, depressingly, persist to this day).
- Vox Pops: With real live people on the street. Probably.
- Your Cheating Heart: According to Dr Rudi, this combined with Interrupted Intimacy is the best way to end a relationship and make sure the woman in question doesn't try to win you back... just make sure you get all your stuff out of her house first and do the actual breakup at her place, to avoid having any of your property damaged.