Are we living in a television golden age in Australia?

You wouldn’t think so if you consider the struggles some of the commercial networks have been having lately merely to stay afloat. Nor would you think so from the vast amounts of total sewage that fill up the ever-expanding spaces even free-to-air now offers.

But even so, take just lately:


Jack Irish

I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s Black Tide, the second of two adaptations of Peter Temple’s Jack Irish novels on ABC1. I have to confess I am not as familiar with Temple’s novels as I should be. And my only quibble with either of the two adaptations I have seen thus far is probably down to the books as well – a slightly cheesy plot device whereby the vital bits of evidence are hidden in unlikely places which in turn are divined in rather unlikely ways through “the luck of the Irish”, as it was expressed last night. That aside, what a great addition to Oz film and TV these have been! As Sydney bookshop owner Jon Page says:

I think the Jack Irish series by Peter Temple is not just the best crime series in Australia but rivals any crime fiction series in the world. When I first heard they were turning the books into a TV series I was very excited because I knew it would bring more readers to the series and to Peter Temple’s other books. However my excitement was met with apprehension when I heard that Guy Pearce was cast in the role of Jack Irish. I like Guy Pearce and think he has done some fantastic work, in particular his role in HBO’s Mildred Pierce but for me he just didn’t embody the character of Jack Irish that I had in my mind.

The Jack Irish character I had from reading the books was Jack Thompson-esque: laconic, strong, rugged. My mind began to change though after seeing Animal Kingdom, in which Guy Pearce played a detective. For the first time I thought there was a possibility he could pull the role off.

I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of both Jack Irish telemovies, Bad Debts and Black Tide, and I can say unequivocally that Guy Pearce is Jack Irish. Not only does he embody the role, he completely owns it. The whole production is also pitch perfect. You couldn’t imagine a better support cast, in every role. Melbourne and rural Victoria, which is evoked so well in the books is also filmed nice and darkly. Both telemovies are true to the books and the only negative I can think of is that Dead Point and White Dog aren’t filmed yet!…

Well, aside from the fact Jack Thompson is now far too old… I agree about Guy Pearce, though – he is brilliant. Of course now if I read the books I will be seeing Guy Pearce!

The dialogue is just brilliant, the vernacular just right, and the casting spot on. How could it be better, my plot quibble aside?

Then there is Rake, also brilliant and Sydney to Jack Irish’s Melbourne.  To look forward we soon have…

Having lived in Redfern and Surry Hills for so long I am waiting to see what this is like, but the signs are good.

Produced by Blackfella Films (Mabo, First Australians), the 6 x 1 hr drama series has been directed by Rachel Perkins (Mabo, Bran Nue Dae) and Catriona McKenzie (Satellite Boy), with Wayne Blair (The Sapphires, Wish You Were Here) and Leah Purcell (Somersault, Jindabyne, Lantana) both starring in and directing one of the stories.

Starring Deborah Mailman (Mabo, The Sapphires), Leah Purcell, Dean Daley-Jones (Toomelah, Mad Bastards), Miranda Tapsell (The Sapphires), Jimi Bani (Mabo, The Straits), Shari Sebbens (The Sapphires), Wayne Blair and Kelton Pell (Cloudstreet, The Circuit), REDFERN NOW has been produced by Blackfella Films in association with ABC TV, Screen Australia and Screen NSW.

With internationally acclaimed British writer Jimmy McGovern (The Street, Cracker, The Lakes) working closely with the scriptwriters as Story Producer, the series tells the powerful stories of six inner city households whose lives are changed by a seemingly insignificant incident.

I have also become more and more attached to ABC News 24 – not to watch it all day by any means, but to go there at 6pm when there is nothing more appealing on ABC1 – so I currently exclude Tuesdays (Time Team) and Thursdays (Griff Jones).  On Saturdays and Sundays the hour or so from 5pm is well worth looking at. One highlight is the modest but very informative One Plus One.

Here is one from last year.