Boombats follows the misadventures of Bobby Battali (Tony Sciara), a bumbling perpetual loser who gets indebted to a dangerous mob boss after racking up gambling debts. The titular “Boombats” tries to escape the debt, while being pursued by the imposing mobster Mrs Scrota (Maria Vacratsis), by setting up a service for odd jobs. He tries to hide the motivation of this from his weary family, who are openly suspicious of his actions.
The three-episode first season of Boombats is available on YouTube, and it plays out almost like a proof of concept structurally. The first episode sets up the basic premise, not only with Bobby but our other two leads, his brother and mother. Ron Lea plays Lorenzo, Tony’s more successful but deeply unhappy and repressed mamma’s boy bro. Said mamma, Nonna, is portrayed by series creator Tony DeSantis. She is a pious and very eccentric worrywart. We’re also introduced to Gabby, Bobby’s teenage daughter, played by Nicole James, who attempts to woo her self-serious classmate Moutafa (Yatharth Bhatt).
Episode 2 gives us more of an insight into the family and their dynamics. Bobby is clearly the family’s punching bag, not that he doesn’t deserve their derision. Lorenzo is doted by his mother and takes out his ire on his loser brother. Gabby is a typically despondent teenager, who gets away with her surly, antisocial attitude as the youngest of this clan. Episode 3 gives us an insight into Bobby’s social life, including his offbeat and into him neighbour Angie (the creator’s daughter Alia DeSantis) and Billy “Flash” Fleishcman (Dan Lett), a rather pathetic amateur filmmaker.
Boombats is a very broad strokes kind of comedy, but it really works. What helps is the sense of the familiar, with Tony DeSantis pulling from his experiences growing up in a Franco-Italian-Canadian family. It’s allowed him to cook a sense of authenticity into the situations and community dynamics. DeSantis himself is a marvel as Nonna, playing a woman with a great sense of humility yet hilarity. Everything that comes out of the Battali matriarch’s mouth is a gem and she’s a scene stealer. Not to be outdone, Ron Lea has a lot of subtle weight and sadness while being a decent grounding presence for the more out there leads. His jabs at Bobby are fire, and you really get a sense of a decades-long sibling animosity.
Probably the highlight of the short series is Bobby himself. Tony Sciara is so effortlessly likeable and compelling. He takes the role of the sadsack schlub and injects some happy-go-lucky energy, as well as a certain kind of self-awareness. Him and Nicole James work off well each other; you get a sense that Bobby really doesn’t know how to connect to his daughter and feels frustrated over that. With the rather silly situations he gets into (right from the opening there’s a hilarious interrogation scene from an electric Maria Varatsis), it’s important how relatable Bobby can be.
There’s a lot of potential in Boombats and I’d love to see where it progresses. Maybe we’ll be getting more in the future, and there’s a lot to like here. A great cast, both lead and supporting, with a very funny setting and a premise with a lot of comedically exploitable ventures. It’s got a lot of stellar production values, including a prop gag in a back garden I shan’t reveal. It reels in the comedic hijanks with a sense of the familiar and the lived-in experiences of the characters, and with a lot of big laughs and heart.