Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable sees the Australian comedian and self-admitted sceptic investigate the impossible. By seeking out experts and staging experiments that aren’t entirely scientific, Leung aims to challenge our misconceptions and beliefs.
“In some ways it was just a lot of fun, but in other ways I was making the sort of science show I wanted to see in high school,” he told Crikey. “You can show where the truth lies in something and still make it funny. Having said that, it’s not very scientific. There’s a lot of ludicrous stuff going on as well. I hope it’s eye-opening in many ways.”
Eye-opening is right. The third episode in particular has a method of contacting aliens that shouldn’t be attempted without medical qualifications. The comedy is a big part of the show, but Leung also wants to teach us about ourselves. By running “controlled experiments”, Leung is able to gauge how people truly perceive the supernatural.
“The mind reading scene in the first episode isn’t staged,” he said. “The people thought that I was giving an authentic mind reading, and reading the lyrics from the karaoke machine made it more believable for them.”
Leung draws a lot of surprising gold from these situations, and it becomes amazing how much people want to believe — even when the truth is presented to them.
“In my research to put together this show, I found that people could believe all sorts of different things,” said Leung. “What’s interesting to me is why some people will believe in one crazy notion, but not another. I found plenty of people who don’t believe that psychic detectives speak to the dead, but instead read the minds of the production and camera crew. It’s replacing one unusual theory with another.”
Lawrence has a genuine, likeable style of comedy, and the series is a funny and creative winner. You’ll come away laughing and learning from this program. It’s strong and will definitely surprise you in what it finds.
Tonight’s episode looks into how psychics work, and over future weeks we’ll see ghosts, UFOs, magic, and manipulation/persuasion explored. It culminates in an experiment that aims to turn a rational sceptic into a believer.
Taking over the Hungry Beast timeslot on the ABC, it’s hoping to retain on a portion of the viewers from Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys. If there’s any justice though, Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable will build on it. It’s unmissable television.
The details: Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable airs on ABC1 tonight at 9.30pm.