Helicopter Ear-Piece Dramas

Channel 9 premiered their new Australian series a couple of weeks ago. It prompted me to create this piece for The Outland Institute radio show. It went to air on 31 July, 2009 but you can still listen to it thanks to modern technophilia.

Channel 9’s new weekly drama is called Rescue Special Ops (with cops). It’s what I like to think of as a helicopter ear-piece (HEP) action series.

I haven’t seen it yet because*, ever since Underbelly, Channel 9’s publicity seems to be more about secrecy than anything else.

But I thought we’d look at other HEP series from other networks.

Of course, there’s the one that started it all. Police Rescue. This ABC drama featured a lot of falling off cliffs with rescuers shouting “Hang on. Mate, just hang on.” Also combined with this was some shouting of instructions: “attach the rope to the belt” etc. Police Rescue also pioneered the use of the winch in weekly television.

More recently, All Saints, already on the do not resuscitate list, tried to reimagine itself as an HEP, renaming itself to All Saint Medical Response Unit. The introduction of helicopters into a hospital drama was novel if not sustainable.

It’s important to note here that helicopters are the most expensive thing in the filmed entertainment world. It is cheaper to burn giant containers full of truffles laced with cocaine than to hire a helicopter for a film or tv shoot.

So that brings us to Rush on Channel 10. Not happy to spend the national debt on two helicopters, one to film and the other to be filmed, the Rush crew decided to use computer generated images for their action sequences. To compensate for that, though, they have more earpieces and made-up technology than any other HEP series before or after.

How will Rescue Special Ops add to this genre? I’m guessing it won’t. Really. It’s more action for action’s sake until they realise that action’s too expensive and they just fall back into boring intra-department romance and politics like everything else does.

* Remember that this review went to air before Rescue Special Ops aired.

2 Comments

  1. Had to sit through the trailer for the new series of Rush several times during the Melbourne International Film Festival. I've no idea if the series is any good or not, but the trailer was so bad it was… kind of weird. There's all the usual HEP action, then it suddenly stops for some incomprehensible dialogue about cupcakes (WTF?) then you get a really bad CGI explosion. Maybe it looks better on the small screen.

  2. Had to sit through the trailer for the new series of Rush several times during the Melbourne International Film Festival. I've no idea if the series is any good or not, but the trailer was so bad it was… kind of weird. There's all the usual HEP action, then it suddenly stops for some incomprehensible dialogue about cupcakes (WTF?) then you get a really bad CGI explosion. Maybe it looks better on the small screen.

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