A cracking exercise in naval gazing
Sea Patrol 8.30pm, Nine
IN the great Aussie tradition that brought you two seasons of Patrol Boat ( season one, 1979; season two, 1983) and six seasons of Water Rats ( 1996- 2001) comes Sea Patrol, a big budget, 13- episode miniseries based on the Royal Australian Navy Patrol Boat Service, whose job is to police and protect our nation’s coastline.
We care about our borders, we care about our fish stocks and, as the Prime Minister once said, we like to think we can decide who comes here and the manner in which they come.
So if Blue Heelers, in which Sea Patrol lead Lisa McCune made her television debut, can be a hit for 13 years, surely a 13- part miniseries starring the good lady, with a budget bigger than the latest Packer wedding and a focus on border security, can also be a ratings winner. The Nine network will be hoping so.
Although her role as Lieutenant Kate McGregor, executive officer, ( XO to her superiors) is central, McCune shares the bridge of the HMAS Hammersley with her threatened and slightly pushy boss Lieutenant Commander Mike Flynn, played with hairy- chested virility and alpha male control issues by Ian Stenlake ( Stingers).
There’s a string of other, mostly male, characters to stretch the plots and heighten the predicaments, with lots of amusement at the expense of the hapless ( and seasick) 18- year- old bosun’s mate Billy ‘‘ Spider’’ Webb ( Jay Ryan).
Naturally, Flynn and McGregor have history of the intimate kind, alluded to only as ‘‘ that other thing’’. The sexual tension will doubtless simmer away like a laksa on the stove for the entire series. The Hammersley is a small ship, you see, with corridors like a submarine, and XO McGregor is a big ship kind of gal.
The other woman on the ship is navigator Lieutenant Nikki Caetano, played with mild cattiness by Saskia Burmeister. She and McGregor have a history, too, but of a different kind.
With a theme worthy of James Bond and glorious footage of our coastal waters and shores, Sea Patrol sweeps over you like a well- made feature film. It looks terrific and, despite a certain predictability in the set- up and character types and some unlikely touchy- feely stuff nestled amid the blokey banter (‘‘ you did a great job, mate’’, ‘‘ you’ll make a great dad one day’’), there’s enough going on to ensure viewer appeal.
Tonight an intercepted boat, fishing illegally in Australian waters, is apprehended, but an onboard cooking mishap creates a drama of its own. Meanwhile, a researcher struggles to survive paralysis on the blighted shores of Bright Island.
Double trouble for HMAS Hammersley and a cracking beginning to a promising new show.
Riding a wave: Lisa McCune stars in Sea Patrol