Earlier this week I sat down to watch the first episode of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.
What I found was a disappointing display of potential that had been dashed upon the rocks of Australian commercial television.
In the first episode we’ve got two main characters, Robert Trimbole (played by the excellent Roy Billing) and Terry Clark (who looks a lot like Matthew Newton with a moustache).
These could be complex characters but they seem to be whittled down to a couple of key phrases including: “Don’t you cross me” and “Where’s my money?” The latter of which can be really interesting as in the paper boy from Better Off Dead but in this case just comes across as one-dimensional.
The main problem is that the story-telling is so rushed we aren’t given the opportunity to get emotionally invested in any of the characters . So we have no reason to keep watching because we really don’t care if they live or die (and they are most likely going to die).
There also seems to be a rule that a random woman must show her breasts every 12 minutes or people will turn off.
I find the whole thing condescending and a little bit boring which is disappointing because we really could have some great television here. The stories themselves, told by somebody who cares, are fascinating and exciting. Unfortunately here it’s like they’re told by someone who not only doesn’t care, but also wants to get away from you as soon as possible.
Underbelly 2: A Tale of Two Cities airs on Monday nights at 9:30 on Nine.