Plenty of meat in this pork- pie offspring
Keeping it real: The cast of the Seven Network’s successful hard-boiled police procedural FOR more than a year on the killing streets, this well-conceived procedural held its own, attracting an average of 1.621 million viewers nationally. I’ve enjoyed it from the beginning because its creators have eschewed the still trendy, usually overdone style of high-concept storytelling. That catchy premise has done a lot of television harm, an overly cool approach uncluttered by excessive narrative or dramatic ambiguities and layered with slick images.
Happily, there are no raging pursuits, high-speed car chases, violent fistfights or running gunbattles in the Melbourne streets of City Homicide . And no perfectly righteous moment when a detective, a scientific wizard with uncanny powers of observation, has an epiphany over a strand of blond hair.
City Homicide is based on the central tenet of real-life policing: that in most cases the investigator’s saving grace is the killer’s overwhelming disposition towards incompetence.
Told through the eyes of four young detectives and their superiors, the series weaves character and event, plot and detail with well-practised dramatic skill. In tonight’s episode The Forgotten , the show’s 31st, a homeless man sleeping rough is bludgeoned to death. Is he a random target or is there more to him than just the clothes on his back? And what does a bloodstained and well-read copy of To Kill a Mockingbird found near the body mean? Then two more corpses appear.
Is a thrill-killer cleaning up Mel- bourne’s streets or is there another more banal motive to the slayings?
Created by John Banas and John Hugginson, the writing team behind Blue Heelers and Water Rats , the show features Nadine Garner, Daniel MacPherson, Aaron Pedersen and Damien Richardson as the young coppers. Shane Bourne and Noni Hazlehurst are their jaded bosses and the talented Babs McMillan and David Field are among the supporting cast in tonight’s episode.
They are all excellent and the regular coppers in their off-the-rack suits have become part of our lives the way the pork-pie hat wearing cops of the original Crawfords Homicide did 40 years ago.
They’re easy to identify with: these plodding cops have to write reports, keep superiors informed, follow the rules and obey regulations just like the rest of us do in our workplaces. And they must manage personal lives that affect their jobs. In this episode, for example, Bourne’s Detective Se- nior Sergeant Stanley Wolfe is still carrying grief for a failed marriage and a dead son.
The show avoids red herrings and too many false clues and demonstrates that a single well-constructed storyline holds our interest more effectively than a half-dozen or more interwoven plots. Jeff Truman’s script is crisp and serviceable, subtle without obliqueness, and he obviously has fun with Field’s unreconstructed rogue cops, straight out of David Williamson’s The Removalists .