Plenty of meat in this pork- pie off­spring

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

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 .

Graeme Blundell

City Homi­cide

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