Tuesday 17 January 2017

On TV - The Kettering Incident - A bit of a conversation

Adrian Martin's recommendation lead a group us to watch The Kettering Incident in a binge over the last three nights.  For details of the show you can go to its Wikipedia entry. Adrian's note in his Defending Cinephilia lead off was "The Kettering Incident, an Australian series that had everything Australian movies usually lack: emotion, melodrama, style, flair, daring."

Elizabeth Debicki (not from the show)
Not sure about 'emotion' given the heroine's (Elizabeth Debicki, photo not from the series) passivity and her Veronica Lake hairdo that seems to be tossed over the brow as a substitute for anything else registering. ...among us we surmised that it may be that if you become two of yourself you become at one with yourself. Such wordplay....

Otherwise much to be impressed with, not least the ambition of the series in wishing to break out of the standard girl goes missing in the forest dark secrets revealed formula. The cliff hanging final episode, with a dozen loose ends, suggests series 2 in 2017 must be on the way. But, one amongst us who knows about the business was not at all sure that Foxtel would have a chance of getting Debicki back for series 2 and notwithstanding the loose ends Oz TV is very cavalier about commissioning new series even where they are adjudged to be hits. In this case, ‘hit’ seems a dubious description when the viewing numbers started at 115,00 for ep one and ended at 149,000 for ep 8.  

There is some thought that the writing/narrative got out of control over the last couple of eps, or maybe even all the eps (6-8) after Andrew Knight came in to polish up loose ends and get things moving again. Other explanations may be found in this interview with the writer and ‘showrunner’ Victoria Maddern, which may go a bit of the way to explain why the writing tapered off.  

In the meantime I asked for any views and got back three, so far, from some hard core viewers. More welcome. Send notes, comments, short or long texts to me at filmalert101@gmail.com or put them on the Facebook page.

Peter Hourigan: It started strongly, atmosphere and location adding intriguing elements to an intriguing story. But for me it didn't sustain this Somehow, I felt it broke its contract with me. I was watching with the belief that this was an eight episode mini-series that would be self-contained, that the resolution of this storyline would be reached by the final episode. Instead, about episode 6 the tautness of the forward progression somewhat stalled, as new incidents popped up to fill in the time needed to supply eight episodes. And then at the end of the eighth episode you were left most unsatisfyingly with no resolution, or not even a satisfying "non-resolution". Think of some of the endings of SHERLOCK. At the end of an episode, you feel that storyline was resolved, but the creators tantalisingly leave you with hints of things more ominous, - wonderful cliffhangers. The production values of KETTERING are strong. The performances too are consistently good, right to the small parts which in many Australian shows are decidedly leaving something wanting. I certainly didn't recognise Elizabeth Debicki from her role in THE NIGHT MANAGER. I'm not sure I felt I had enough of a payoff to be hanging out for a second series.

Bruce Spence I had very similar feelings about the show.

..and  there was this little exchange which digresses into TV etherland.

David Hare: I absolutely loathed the show. Everything I dislike these days about Australian "serious drama" is here in spades, not least the heroine's demented performance by hair stroking. It doesn't help she's a performer I cannot stand at the best of times, dim narcissistic blonde She needed more of the medications she was supposed to be talking in the script. Atmosphere so heavy you could cut curtains from it, local characters, particularly the male of the Tasmanian species written and portrayed in thumbnail feminist parodies of sexist pig/wakeupwithyoursister/halfwit and worst of all crooked cop. Narrative that was never going anywhere and then seemed to be working too hard to achieve any single dramatic arc. Worst television I've seen since Channel Ten's notorious and beloved 80S Campathon Arcade.

Peter Kemp: I have nervously fond memories of ARCADE. Around that time, the opposition, Channel 7, screened an even worse fashionista series: CATWALK - so hilariously awful it was a tragedy for local gay boys when it (very quickly) folded.

David Hare: The late 80s were peak period for Oz TV camp. Arcade is unrepeatable and it paid the rent for six months or more for more than a few actors. Here are the opening credits

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