Authenticity gone missing in dramas
Conviction is devoid of human emotion but The Kennedys: After Camelot is worth a look – just for the laughs.
Depending on your source, robots will have taken over all our jobs by next month, next Christmas, next decade. But I reckon they’re already making inroads if new United States series Conviction (Thursdays, 9.30pm, Prime) is anything to go by. How else to explain this one-dimensional effort?
It’s like the writers have taken all the component parts but just can’t put in any authentic human emotion.The premise is this: Hayes Morrison (Hayley Attwell) is the daughter of an ex-president of the US. She’s also a brilliant lawyer with self-destructive tendencies.
We know this because she displays some behaviour that might be construed as self-destructive. Defiant in the face of authority? Check. Churlish towards offers of help? Check. Dabbling with drugs? Check. Any interesting human quirk or nuance to this behaviour? Er, no.
Anyway, she’s arrested for cocaine possession only to be pulled out of the police cells by District Attorney Conner Wallace, who wants to make her head of the newly formed Conviction Integrity Unit. There is some convenient backstory about political aspirations and Hayes’ mother, but what follows is basically a formulaic police procedural pulled along by people with all the depth of your average Cluedo characters delivering written-by-numbers dialogue.
Sure, they’ve tried to make it interesting and a bit fun. To add tension, the Conviction Integrity Unit has an arbitrary five-day timeframe to solve each case. To underline Hayes’ impulsive, strong-willed brilliance, she waltzes out of a fundraiser in full cocktail dress and heads directly to jail to interview a wrongly convicted inmate.
It all comes across as random nonsense from the robotic pen of someone who kind of understands what humans like but doesn’t quite ‘‘get it’’.
The Kennedys: After Camelot (Thursdays, 8.30pm, Prime) is just as bad but in a very different way. This four-part mini-series is a dramatisation of the Kennedy family after the murders of John and Robert in the 1960s. And if you’re thinking it’s odd to have a drama about a family where the two most famous personalities are already dead – well, you’d be right. And odd is certainly the theme for this one.
Here’s lovely Jackie Kennedy (Katie Holmes) embarking on a love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis (Alexander Siddig) laughing and holding hands on the beach. Here’s Teddy Kennedy (Matthew Perry) enjoying a drink. ‘‘There’s going to be a party’’ he tells his wife. ‘‘Where?’’ she asks. ‘‘Chappaquiddick,’’ he replies. Trouble ahead.
The Kennedys were a fascinating family, undoubtedly blighted by tragedy. But this series opts for the melodramatic soapy feel of heyday Dallas or Dynasty. So much so it’s downright laughable in parts.
‘‘Jarkie, rely on me …’’ says a hammed-up Onassis in one scene, in his golden dressing gown in his golden Parisian apartment. At least all that gold momentarily detracts from his absurd prosthetic teeth.
If you’re after a serious, historical insight into the Kennedys, forget it. But if you’re in need of a laugh, it might just tick the box.
Conviction: maybe it was written by a robot?
The Kennedys: After Camelot’s melodramatic soapy feel will have you in stitches.