Monday, June 14, 2010

Australian Television: City Homicide, An Introduction

"No greater honour will ever be bestowed upon an officer than when they are entrusted with an investigation into the death of a Human Being."

So begins each episode of City Homicide.

City Homicide is an Australian dramatic television series created and written by John Banas and John Hugginson.  It deals with the cases and daily lives of a small group of homicide detectives and their superiors.  They manage to do their jobs while struggling not only with personal demons but with department politics.

In a scripted drama of this nature, it would be easy for the show to become exactly like every single other crime drama with just a different set of characters.  Murder is murder and detection is detection.  However, with good writing and interesting plot twists, a show can stand out amongst its peers.  City Homicide does that, in my opinion, and proves that not all crime dramas are created alike. 

The cases range from young girls being abducted thanks to webcams in their bedrooms and crime victims murdering those they feel escaped justice to a couple who disappeared and was murdered in 1978 and a judge and young junkie being found dead and their deaths are tied together.  The series is well-written and it is very rare that the action or storyline drags or gets bogged down in unnecessary details.  Each episode usually has a couple of story lines working it it:  the main storyline (the crime) and a secondary storyline (usually something about the lives of the characters).

The cast is very well assembled and has gone through a few changes in the three years City Homicide has been on the air.  Most of the cast has remained constant but a few colorful characters have come and gone.  Most notably, Wilton Sparks played by Marshall Napier.  I loved the Sparks character and was sad to see him leave.  Season three saw the addition of two new detectives as the much-loved and respected leader of the homicide unit, Stanley Wolfe, played by the fantastic Shane Bourne took a 'leave of absence' from his job.

Detective Jennifer Mapplethorpe is a strong and smart character played by Nadine Garner.  Mapplethorpe came to homicide from fraud and was in danger of being transferred back when loose-cannon Duncan Freeman, played by Aaron Pedersen was cleared to return to work after a shooting in the first episode.  Thankfully, Stanley Wolfe and Wilton Sparks were able to keep her in homicide as I couldn't imagine the show without Mapplethorpe.

The character of Duncan Freeman fast became one of my favorites and, thanks to City Homicide, I've become a huge fan of Aaron Pedersen.  When Duncan was first introduced, I thought he would be a cocky, selfish and generally unlikable character.  Was I ever wrong!  Duncan is smooth, sure of himself, sharp and unrelenting in his pursuit of justice.  One of my favorite moments from the entire series is when Duncan returns to work in the first episode.  He walks into the homicide unit as the John Butler Trio's Hello plays in the background.  He comes in and sweeps Mapplethorpe's belongings off his desk to reclaim his place in the unit.

Simon Joyner (Daniel MacPherson) started out as a detective who did his job well and loved to have a little fun whenever he could.  However, after a brush with death and the near-death beating of a friend and colleague, Joyner has evolved into a character who is angry and bent on vengeance.  MacPherson, a favorite among the ladies, has made the transition from fun-loving hottie to vengeance-seeking hottie quite well.  The 'new Simon' is just as believable and real as the 'old Simon'.

The season three addition of Allie Kingston (Nadia Townsend) is one I immediately warmed to unlike some fans of the show.  Like Mapplethorpe, she is a tough female character.  Her first moments in Homicide are a little shaky but it is clear Kingston is a fast learner and I can see this character really going places.

Currently, City Homicide is on break.  I've read reports it will be returning to the Australian airwaves in August 2010.  I do hope that is true because I really can't wait to see if Stanley Wolfe returns from his leave of absence, to see more of Duncan Freeman, to learn the outcome of Simon Joyner's downward spiral and to just be able to enjoy the excellent drama from a fine cast.  When the show returns, I will be doing episode-by-episode summaries.

The Cast
Stanley Wolfe (Shane Bourne)
Duncan Freeman (Aaron Pedersen)
Jennifer Mapplethorpe (Nadine Garner)
Matt Ryan (Damien Richardson)
Simon Joyner (Daniel MacPherson)
Bernice Waverley (Noni Hazlehurst)
Terry Jarvis (David Field)
Allie Kingston (Nadia Townsend)
Nick Buchanan (John Adam)
Wilton Sparks (Marshall Napier)

For more information on City Homicide visit the following sites:
The Official Channel 7 City Homicide Web Site
TV Rage
The Internet Movie Database

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