Tag Archives: underbelly

Ep 287: Book Adaptations with Larry Writer

Larry Writer wrote the book about the crime wars in Sydney in the 20s and 30s called Razor. It was picked up by the Underbelly team and turned into the latest instalment of the true crime dramatisation that has proven so successful for Channel Nine. We talk to him about the whole process.

Also, Courteney Hocking is in to talk about those guilty pleasures we think we shouldn’t watch.

Then, Nelly Thomas tells us about the passion and drama that goes on in her head when she watches Lost.

Listen and enjoy.

Bloodshed, horror and sensationalism

This afternoon Channel 9 announced a new show starting this Sunday. Not sure if they were planning this before Carl Williams was killed but it’s definitely related to their Carl Williams: Baby Faced Killer show from earlier this week.

It’s possible that they discovered how quickly they can put this kind of material together and have some solid gold ratings filler by just throwing together some old news footage and shoving Vince Colosimo in a sound booth for a few hours to read a few lines of voiceover.

Called Australian Families of Crime, the whole exercise feels like a cynical attempt to plug in to an audience’s basest interests. What once seemed like the sensational and exploitative homeland of Channel 10, with their Cops / Hard Copy programming is now wholly occupied by Channel 9.

The flag they plant to claim this land as their own is in the titles of the episodes. The first is called Milat: Backpacker Bloodshed. Shocking, isn’t it.

There is, in our culture, a fascination with the macabre. I love stories of serial killers and other true crime when they’re told well. The producers of Crime Investigations Australia, credited with creating this series, have told some great stories of Australian serial killers and other criminals. They have never, however, shied away from an exploitative production style.

It’s the speed with which this series was announced and slammed onto the air (announced on Thursday and airing on Sunday) that stinks of exploitation. Capitalising on criminal behaviour is a very tight rope to walk. What makes the Underbelly series an acceptable pulp story but Baby Faced Killer a soul-less profiteering on somebody’s horrible crimes and gruesome death? Maybe it’s just time but then the adage states that timing is everything.

Australian Families of Crime airs at 9:30pm Sunday on Channel 9.

Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities: The Review

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.

Gillian Bartlett and Donna Lyon from Bam Boom! Entertainment join us to talk about their very unique television jobs. Also there’s a review of the new Underbelly season premier, and the new US show Lie to Me. Also we look at coverage of the Victorian bushfires in a special Raywatch.

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