Free TV is a brutal race: a nightly, ratings-driven marathon from February to November, after which there is little time to celebrate. The score sheet is reset to zero, and all the competitors – the good, the bad, the exhausted and the creatively bankrupt – are lined up again waiting for the starter’s pistol.
The unrelenting exchange of blows between Seven and Nine, which seems to define the Australian television narrative, has little respect for who won the decade previous, as both have now learned in the most bruising fashion. Instead, everyone lines up their ducks in a shooting gallery which seems to give everyone an even chance, or something resembling it.
Certainly as peak TV peaks, competition pushes the streaming space to seam- splitting capacity and consumer demand for new content pushes the volume of new shows to unprecedented levels, the one thing viewers cannot escape is choice. We seem swamped by it, almost to breaking point.
Some future highlights:
The Secrets She Keeps (Ten)
A six-part “domestic noir” based on the book of the same name by author Michael Robotham. The Secrets She Keeps is about two women from different worlds who share one thing: a secret that would blow both their worlds apart.
“Both will risk everything to conceal the truth,” promises the marketing material, “but their worlds are about to collide in one shocking act that cannot be undone.”
The series, starring Jessica de Gouw and Briton Laura Carmichael, is directed by Jennifer Leacey and Catherine Millar from scripts by Sarah Walker and Jonathan Gavin.
Cate Blanchett, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney and Asher Keddie star in this drama about four strangers in an immigration detention centre: an Afghan refugee fleeing persecution, an airline hostess escaping a cult, a young father escaping his own life and a bureaucrat swept up in a national scandal. Created by Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie for Matchbox Pictures, the series is directed by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse from scripts by Elise McCredie and Belinda Chayko.
New Gold Mountain (SBS)
A murder mystery, directed by The Hunting’s Ana Kokkinos, and produced for SBS by Goalpost Television, which is the “untold true story of the Australian gold rush from the perspective of Chinese miners who risked everything for a chance at unlikely wealth in a strange land”. The series will shine a light on the largely untold story of Australia’s Chinese migration wave in the 1850s and, in addition to creator Peter Cox, will feature a writing team that includes Benjamin Law and Yolanda Ramke.
Between Two Worlds (Seven)
From Packed to the Rafters creator Bevan Lee, Between Two Worlds is described as a “high concept thriller” about a woman who lives in a high-powered, bitter world and is trapped in an unhappy marriage. That world, however, seems to become enmeshed in the world of a widow and her two children who seem to live an idyllic life. The cast includes Hermione Norris (Cold Feet), Philip Quast (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Sara Wiseman (A Place to Call Home) and Aaron Jeffery (Wentworth).
Informer 3838 (Nine*)
The highly anticipated drama based on the story of Melbourne police informant Lawyer X will star actress Ella Scott Lynch in the central role. Though the series is not being produced under Nine’s long-standing Underbelly crime drama brand, it will lean into the Underbelly world with reports that original Underbelly castmembers Gyton Grantley and Robert Mammone will reprise their roles as Carl Williams and Tony Mokbel. Lynch described the role as “dynamic, divisive [and] complex”.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (Stan*)
The new 10-part comedy from Australian comedian Josh Thomas, commissioned originally for the Disney-owned US channel Freeform, about Nicholas, a neurotic 20-something Australian who is visiting his father and teen-aged siblings in the US when their father unexpectedly dies.
That tragedy leaves the group struggling to cope, and Nicholas to the realisation that he has to move in and hold his younger family together. Like its forebear, Please Like Me, the series is created and written by Thomas and stars Kayla Cromer and Maeve Press as Nicholas’s sisters.
By Michael Idato SMH January 5, 2020