Harrow–Season 1, Episode 2 (Ex Animo)

Now that the pilot has aired and established the show’s premise and characters, now the fun and character exploration can really begin.

We immediately kick off with the case of the week with a group of schoolgirls finding the body of Phillipa Wedburg (Niki-J Price). This case of the week was bizarre and couldn’t be more different from last week’s. Due to its bizarre nature, I found this case of the week more interesting and the reveal of the murderer wasn’t as predictable. There were also plenty of twists and turns—the reveal of Phillipa being shot and killed by a crossbow, the threesome sex video complete with Cosplay costumes, the reveal of Blake’s bad hand, right to the reveal of Charlotte as the murderer as she was expelled from uni for stealing body parts from cadavers. All of these twists and turns both in the case and the episode left me with the constant feeling of intrigue and wanting to know what the next clue would be.

As interesting as the case of the week was, what was even better was the B story of Fern and her boyfriend, Callan, squatting. In this subplot it is revealed he left her at the hospital when she overdosed, and that they have clearly been squatting for a while. This subplot provided some much needed insight into Fern’s character and nature as her squatting skills are put on display–she knows to look for abandoned mail,  she knows about possible places for hide-a-keys, and remains calm and collected when the owners of the first house return, in contrast to Callan who immediately starts panicking. This moment also shows that she is clearly the one in charge of their relationship. This subplot was necessary as Fern showed potential in the pilot but was underused.

The discovery and now subsequent investigation into the body Harrow dumped in the river was shoved to the background as the C story. While Simon was trying to get the femur out of the concrete, Harrow went to see his old mentor, Jack (Tony Barry) to both get his advice on ways to cover up the murder, as well as to feel absolved without completely confessing. I found this was a fitting choice as Harrow would need a confidante of some kind and it clearly wouldn’t be his colleagues and family. Jack catching Harrow in the act of falsifying evidence by covertly taking Hovard’s DNA is the next step in this story arc, and I felt this scene was the perfect way to move the arc forward.

Like the pilot, this episode didn’t have a lot of action that you would normally see with your typical crime drama, however there was certainly more of it than last week. This is especially true with the nature of the A story and the case of the week,  as well as the fact that the murderer was actually arrested on-screen this time.

Overall this episode was an improvement to last week, however there is still plenty of room for growth.


Stray Observations:

-There is a slight continuity issue in the scene between Harrow and Stephanie. Stephanie brought by Fern’s immunisation records for her’s and Harrow’s Bora Bora trip after they were due to leave.

-Possible hints to Harrow’s nature as a killer: his collection of hunting magazines, his apparent admiration of Charlotte’s hunting/killing style (although it is just as likely he gave that speech to keep himself alive, but Charlotte was clearly spooked), and knowing who to go to, to track Fern down.

-Fairley’s role in this episode was minimal.


-Best one liners:

  • “Those I don’t kill I make stronger” (Harrow)
  • “That’s as useful as a chocolate teapot” (Nichols on the bar’s surveillance footage)
  • “We did find a heap of iffy shit!” (Saroya to Harrow on the search of the suspects’ flat)



Harrow–Pilot (Actus Reus)

The job of a pilot is to establish a show’s premise and characters and set up story arcs for the season. I felt that the pilot of Harrow pulled this off beautifully, even if it did so slowly.

The episode starts with an unknown figure pouring concrete over a body and disposing it in the river, followed by the opening credits and then cutting to titular character, Dr Daniel Harrow (Ioan Gruffudd), watching High Noon avoiding his obligation to do an autopsy on a clown still in full make-up. While this quick and seemingly random transition seemed clunky, the following moments made up for it by displaying both Harrow’s personality and unique intelligence, and why he’s such a good pathologist.

I feel that the contrast between Harrow’s intelligence and brilliance in his work, and his strained relationship with his daughter was a bit of cliche, nevertheless, it does provide balance to his character. Harrow’s arrogance in his job is realistically contrasted by his anxiety, desperation and failure to make amends with apparently long-suffering daughter, Fern (Ella Newton). I felt that Harrow’s efforts to make amends were undermined by the predictable outcome–of course they wouldn’t be sailing off into the sunset or rather Bora Bora as, if they did, there would be no series to watch. It was only a matter of what would cause Harrow to change his mind and when.

While I felt that the focus on Harrow’s family dynamic fell flat, the A story of Harrow looking into Olivia Reimers’ murder was solid. Rather than going down the cliche road of Harrow investigating Olivia’s death just after her body was found, he investigates it by being coerced by Olivia’s father, Bruce (Gary Sweet). While Sweet’s performance was fantastic, I do feel he has been typecast as an aggressive character. While this subplot ultimately had a predictable outcome, what I believe worked well was the slow process of putting all the jigsaw pieces together from Bruce showing Harrow the carved letters “KU” on the bathroom vanity, to Harrow trying to repeatedly deduce how Olivia died, to discovering the brilliant way in which Olivia tried to save herself, which ultimately led to the reveal of why she was murdered, and lastly how Harrow managed to prove that Kurt was Olivia’s killer.

The insertion of the attempted foal drowning didn’t add anything to the episode as there was no resolution provided to it, and it was clearly only inserted as a means for Harrow to meet his love interest, Saroya (Mirrah Foulkes).

As I was watching the episode, I kept thinking that the opening scenes had been completely forgotten so I was surprised by the twist at the end. At best, Harrow is disposing a body, at worst he is a killer himself. On second viewing of this episode, I found this reveal raised more questions than provided answers–did he really want to go to Bora Bora with Fern to make amends or to flee? Why dispose of the body in the river and not elsewhere? Why bother purchasing his surgical tools back from the pawnbroker when they were clearly used in the murder?

Overall I felt that the pilot of Harrow established its premise and characters beautifully, balanced out the drama with a great amount of subtle comedy, and successfully managed to keep the twist a secret until the right time. I also felt that the pilot lacked action, however I believe this is a deliberate choice by the writers–this crime drama is going to be more of an intellectual slow burn than an action-packed wildfire. One of Harrow’s great one-liners perfectly summed up what kind of crime drama this series will be–“that’s the cause not the reason”.


Stray Observations:

-Running gag: Harrow’s daily insults to Fairley on the latter’s office door.

-Harrow has a parking sign ready to go whenever he feels like illegally parking.

-Most Australian dramas have been set in either Sydney or Melbourne, I appreciated the choice of the show’s crew to be different and go with Brisbane.

-Best one liners:

  • “I hate clowns” (Harrow)
  • “You really shouldn’t interrupt a guy watching High Noon” (Harrow to Maxine)
  • “I don’t drink with people who break into Bettie” (Harrow to Bruce)
  • “I thought real men gave their cars girls names” (Simon to Harrow)
  • “Working with you is like competing in the Olympics of sexual harassment” (Simon to Harrow)
  • “I always imagined the bail fairy to be taller” (Harrow to Maxine after his arrest)
  • “That’s the cause not the reason” (Harrow to Fairley on Olivia’s brain haemorrhage).


TV Week 2018 Previews

As this blog has grown so much over the last twelve months through hits and readership, I wanted to do the same thing I did last year and buy TV Week‘s issue containing previews of 2018 TV shows.

I was especially eager to read previews on the shows I’ve been reviewing on here for the last two years: Doctor Doctor, Here Come the Habibs, House Husbands, Hyde & Seek, Love Child, Sisters, Speechless, The Secret Daughter, and The Wrong Girl.

However I knew when I bought the issue that there wouldn’t be previews of all of these shows. Sadly, Here Come the Habibs, House Husbands, Love Child and The Secret Daughter have been axed. Hyde & Seek wasn’t renewed for a second season, something I touched upon in last year’s blog post. The Wrong Girl most likely won’t be renewed as Christie Whelan-Browne (Nikkii) came forward with sexual harassment allegations against co-star Craig McLachlan (Eric) earlier this year, that being said its future was already in doubt prior to Browne’s allegations coming out.

One of the shows that I review that I know will be returning this year is Doctor Doctor, for its third season. Unfortunately the ” preview” wasn’t a preview, rather a highlight reel of the previous two seasons. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to its return.

I haven’t come across any news on the future of Sisters, but I’m hoping its renewed, there was no mention of U.S. show, Speechless, most likely because Channel 10 haven’t aired it in months.

Despite the cancellation of the majority of the shows I review, this year shows promise for a variety of new (non-reality) shows.

Street Smart, a new show by Here Come the Habibs co-creators, Tahir Bilgic and Rob Shehadie is a “hilarious and entertaining look at a team of bumbling crims who dream of fast cars, attractive women and getting rich quick”. Bilgic will be portraying Steve a “hopeless goon who likens himself to George Clooney’s character in Ocean’s Eleven“, while Shehadie will be portraying Joe, a “ruthless parking officer”. It will be interesting to see if there will be any comedic similarities to Here Come the Habibs, however I won’t be thinking about it too much as I keep an open mind when reviewing. Street Smart will be airing on Channel 10.

Another Channel 10 show that I’m looking forward to reviewing will be Playing for Keeps, focusing on the off-the-field lives of Australian football wives and girlfriends (WAGs). How to Stay Married, starring Peter Helliar and Lisa McCune, is also another Channel 10 show with potential.

TV Week also provided short blurbs of Squinters and Riot, both of which will be airing on the ABC. Squinters is a six-part series that will revolve around five carloads of workers on their journey to work and then home. I’m looking forward to checking out this show both to see how its intriguing premise is played out and to see the star-studded cast, which include: Tim Minchin, Jacki Weaver, Miranda Tapsell and Mandy McElhinney, in action. While Riot is a telemovie that will focus on the origins of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Another ABC show that looks promising is crime drama, Harrow, starring Ioan Gruffudd as forensic pathologist, Dr Daniel Harrow, who is determined to find out what happened to his victims while keeping a dark secret of his own.

TV Week also provided a short blurb on Bite Club, which will be airing on the Nine Network. Bite Club will revolve around two detectives who fall victim to a shark attack, they survive but have to deal with massive psychological repercussions, and later work together to hunt down a serial killer.

On the biography front, the headliner is Hopelessly Devoted to You, with Delta Goodrem portraying Olivia Newton-John. It will be interesting to see how this biography will be received by viewers as last year’s Hoges and Brock weren’t as well received as biographies of previous years. Channel Seven will also be airing Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy, a documentary based on Barnes’ 2016 memoir of the same name.

There are also plenty of overseas shows making their debut with SEAL Team, Instinct and 9JKL airing on Channel 10, and Life Sentence and Hard Sun airing on Channel Seven.

While I’m sad at the axing of many of the shows that I have reviewed over the last two years, I am looking forward to reviewing the new shows on offer.

Sisters–Season 1 Finale

The purpose of a season finale is to conclude the season’s story arcs and set up potential new ones for the next season (if there is one). This season finale didn’t really achieve either goal. If it was made clear if Sisters had or has been renewed, I could give this episode a pass, because in all honesty it didn’t feel like a finale at all, it felt like any other episode.

The episode starts off with Kasey inviting Julia to dinner in her own home, Roxy points out what the viewers would be thinking, in that Kasey is only having the dinner to butter Julia up when she reveals she’s not a sister. Isaac reveals that Kasey’s DNA sample was negative and she is subsequently confronted after Julius’ funeral, where she reveals that her efforts in the previous episode to swipe Julia’s DNA were successful. Due to her efforts being shown in the previous episode, in all honesty, I did guess that she managed to swipe Julia’s DNA and that this plot twist would present itself. It’s a good plot twist nonetheless, but it was still predictable, especially with Genevieve’s revelation earlier in the series that Julia’s mother met Julius first as a doctor and then fell in love with him.

One way that the season finale actually succeeded in concluding a story arc and setting up a potential one for next season, came in the form of Roxy’s drug addiction story arc. Just when we thought that she hit rock bottom when she threatened a colleague for his stash, she well and truly hits it when she steals Julius’ drugs while his dead body is still lying on his bed. While it’s not entirely established whether Roxy losing Julius, losing her job, finding out that she has some sort of reproductive problem, and finding out from Diane that she knew all along that Julius was her father, and her subsequent breakdown in front of Isaac, was enough to send her over the edge to the point of overdosing, you could form a strong argument that, that would be the case. I enjoyed the ending of her story arc as it was a nice full circle without being cliche—in the pilot Roxy is forced into rehab by her mother, in the finale she goes there willingly with the support of her sisters.

You could also argue that Edie’s story arc was also close to both being concluded and providing potential for the next season. Edie forces Amanda to resign, which leads to a great one liner and walk out by Amanda, however the troubles between Edie and Tim aren’t completely done and dusted. Tim admits in therapy that he hired a prostitute and the therapist oddly sides with him, which leads to another great one liner from Edie. I felt Tim’s choice to move out was a logical ending to this story arc and I appreciated that it happened without the drama.

While Julius’ death does make sense as its impending nature has been hinted at all season and it is the finale, there’s a part of me that still didn’t see it coming, which I’ll chalk up to good writing. I enjoyed Isaac’s brutally honest eulogy and I found Julius’ last words to Julia that “she’s keeping him hostage” an interesting one liner as it could also apply to Julia. I found Barbara’s confession to Julia that she was in love with Julius didn’t add anything to her character or the episode.

I felt that the final moments of the finale of Julia randomly riding her bike with a smile on her face just after the scene where Roxy went to rehab, was a letdown. There is no context to these moments or any indication of where Julia is going and what she is feeling. One interpretation that can be taken from it is that Julia is now free of Julius and is riding off to her next adventure in life, but that’s probably a bit of stretch. I felt these final moments were random and didn’t add anything or close off the season properly.

Overall the first season of Sisters was mostly good, especially with solid character development, however I also feel that the premise was underdeveloped. This could be partly due to the limitations of having a seven episode season and an uncertain future, however I feel there needs to be improvement in the writing. I felt that the finale was a letdown as there was no complete closure on this season’s story arcs and not much in the way of potential story arcs for next season (if there is one) presenting themselves. A finale should feel like a finale and it should be clear to the viewers. As I stated in the beginning of my review, it could have been any other episode if it wasn’t advertised as a finale. A finale being so underwhelming (writing wise) that it felt like it could have been any other episode, is never a good thing. That being said the acting and one liners were superb.

I hope Sisters is reviewed for another season.


Stray Observations:

-Genevieve is a runner just like Edie.

-Roxy remembers Julius through the Snapchat photos she took of him in a previous episode.

-Sam makes a reappearance and seemed to be the only other IVF child outside of the girls, Kasey and Oscar to be present at Julius’ funeral.

-Apparently Carl plays the piano.

Best one liners:

  • “Just remember that the night my father died you slapped me!” (Julia to Edie—the best one liner of the season)
  • “Don’t cream yourself too much Angela, you might slide off the seat.” (Edie to Angela, her therapist)
  • “Do you realise you put everyone in a position of compromise without being willing to compromise yourself?” (Amanda to Edie)

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 23 (C-A–Camp)

So we’ve reached the season finale, where story arcs and other loose ends are tied up and potential plots are set up for the next season. I felt that in this finale it was only partially achieved, however this is due to the fact that it has been rare that each episode is interlinked as they normally stand alone.

The beginning of the episode with Maya speeding to the school and the police recording her speeding on the radar was a nice throwback to the pilot, however Dylan running behind them with the police also recording her speed was a hilarious addition to the throwback. The scenes of Ray, JJ and Kenneth in the choir was also a nice throwback to earlier in the season.

Coming back to the present, this episode continues the JJ summer camp story arc with the family flying with JJ to drop him off. I felt that Maya’s packing of JJ’s clothes (and apparently Ray’s and Jimmy’s underwear) for the trip was hilarious and true to her character, and that for JJ’s physiotherapist of all people, to make him nervous, was realistic as outsiders would be the ones to put JJ off not the family. I felt that JJ’s reaction to his nerves by lashing out through, as Jimmy points out, a dated insult was realistic as he obvious can’t physically lash out.

Meanwhile, Ray decides to not be himself in an effort to find a girlfriend. Dylan’s suggestions to him to basically changw everything about himself was the typical younger sister reaction, and the scenes at the beginning of the episode of him officially being rejected by every girl in his year were hilarious. I felt that the ending of his subplot–Ray gaining a girlfriend via JJ’s summer camp was realistic, and I’m looking forward to seeing this played out next season.

I felt that the Jimmy and Dylan subplot was sweet but weak. Jimmy’s idea to make the flight rather than the trip fun was genius and I liked them working together as a team by deciding on the Miami layover. When the fun restaurant they wanted to go to at Miami airport was closed, it lead to a sweet reveal by Jimmy on his desire to not only have actual fun, but to have it with Dylan.

Back to the JJ story arc, I liked that Kenneth was all of people, the one to convince Maya to say goodbye to JJ like she wanted, as it showed the progression of their relationship. I felt that Maya’s arrival at the camp in a helicopter was very true to her character.

The ending of the episode was perfect as it showed the whole family letting go of JJ and letting him be independent for the first time. This shows the growth of all of the characters, not to mention provides a story arc and potential for the next season.

Overall this was a very understated but well done finale and I’m looking forward to reviewing season 2 when it eventually becomes available on iTunes as it’s sadly no longer airing in Australia, or at least not for now.


Stray Observations:

-JJ signing everyone’s yearbook by Kenneth having a stamp made for him was genius.

-Apparently Kenneth has a “summer” mode and keeps to his word of becoming more tropical as the summer progresses.

-Apparently Joyce (JJ’s physiotherapist) and Kenneth are friends.


Speechless–Season 1, Episode 22 (M-A–May-Jay)

So this episode is the penultimate season 1 episode. The penultimate episode is usually a set up for the finale and I believe in this instance it was successful.

JJ tries to assert his independence by proving he is capable of undressing himself, or rather undoing a button. The montage at the beginning of the episode showing a whole day has gone by with JJ unsuccessfully unbuttoning his shirt was humorous, but also not over-the-top. The twist of JJ trying to undo a button to prove his independence, so he can go to summer camp was genius and also showed another aspect to his and Maya’s relationship.

While JJ’s independence or rather whether he would be capable of having any, was touched upon in C-H–Cheater and R-U-N–Runaway, this is the first time that JJ tries to assert it to his mother outright. Both sides of the argument by Maya and JJ were realistically played out without being preachy, with it coming to a head with JJ trying to unbutton his shirt, only to fall out of his wheelchair and needing knee surgery. With this situation, we see character development in Kenneth in that he is slightly traumatised by seeing JJ in a hospital bed hooked up to machines. In all honesty, I felt his reaction was unrealistic, however I can give him a pass as this is the first time Kenneth has seen him in hospital.

I did enjoy the scenes between Maya and Kenneth after JJ admits defeat. These scenes showed growth between them as Maya is aware that she can’t be the person to tell JJ he can’t do something, and concedes that JJ listens more to Kenneth than her when it comes to self-belief. While Kenneth overcomes his trauma to help JJ when he needs it most. JJ eventually undoing the top button of his pyjama shirt provided perfect bookends to the subplot.

Meanwhile Dylan feels threatened when she discovers that Ray is capable of running faster than her. Her attempts to both beat Ray again and become smart like him were hilarious. I did question whether Ray let her win the hospital race, however I’m willing to give it a pass. I felt that the Jimmy subplot of having “juice” was weak but hilarious, especially when he discovers his juice at the hospital and proving so to Dane at the end of the episode.

Overall this was a good penultimate episode with great character development, however the subplots were a little weak.


Stray Observations:

-Maya’s nickname for her and JJ as a summer holiday team is “May Jay”, hence the title of the episode.

-Kenneth is not good at making up hypothetical situations to get his point across, but is hilarious in trying all the same.

-If the montage is anything to go by, Kenneth is good at juggling.


Sisters–Season 1, Episode 6

So we have reached the penultimate episode of the season, usually a penultimate episode starts to tie up the season’s loose ends but doesn’t completely as that is the finale’s job, rather it focuses on the loose ends that need tying up.

The loose ends are the reveal of whether Kasey is a sister or not, Roxy’s pill taking, whether the class action will happen, the disintegration of Edie and Tim’s marriage, and the possibility of Julius’ death.

The episode kicks off with Kasey trying to swab Julia for the DNA test, which again is another strong hint that Kasey isn’t a sister. While I understand the need to keep a story arc going, in all honesty, the to-ing and fro-ing of if she is a sister and the kind of person she is has gone on long enough, and I’m hoping the writers will confirm this in next week’s finale. That being said I personally enjoyed the foils to Kasey’s plan with Julia rolling over in bed and then almost catching her in the act as her alarm woke her up.

Meanwhile Abraham has been confirmed as another sibling, although whether he is the first IVF child hasn’t been established. Abraham claims his innocence to Julia, Edie and Roxy, who don’t seem to believe him. While his story is briefly touched on, I am wondering whether it will actually be addressed in the season finale.

Roxy’s virginity and Isaac as her love interest is fully addressed in this episode. I appreciated the awkwardness of the first moments of the date, which is something I think a lot of people can relate to. However what I appreciated even more was Isaac’s reaction to the revelation that Roxy is a virgin through her assumption that Julia told him. It was true to their characters and I was amused by their conversation of their similar dating troubles, while I felt the outcome was obvious, I felt it was sweet and well done. Julia and Carl’s scenes and their own sexual encounter contrasted well with Isaac and Roxy’s scenes and blossoming romance, and Edie and Tim’s mediation scenes and disintegrating marriage.

The mediation between Edie, Tim and Amanda were the best scenes of the episode, with a great combination of humour and tension. While I’m glad the cheating and their disintegrating marriage has finally been fully addressed, it’s a bit of a letdown that the fate of the marriage still hasn’t been made clear, however it is highly likely this is being saved for the finale. Unless Tim’s hiring of the prostitute is going to be addressed in the finale, I didn’t see the point of their brief scene, other than Tim getting a little bit of revenge, it really didn’t add to the episode as a whole.

Ron and Diane reappear in this episode, Diane for the first time in a while and it was pulled off brilliantly. Considering how much of an acting powerhouse Szubanski is, frankly I feel her and her character have been underused. Like Edie and Amanda, I wasn’t expecting her to reveal that she had a child when she was fifteen to a Father. It certainly adds to her character and Szubanski’s performance was outstanding, however I do question what purpose this revelation serves.

Overall this was a solid episode albeit with a few flaws and a great springboard for next week’s finale.


Stray Observations:

-Em Rusciano and Harley Breen make a cameo appearance.

-Abraham’s reaction to seeing Julia, Edie and Roxy, especially Roxy was oddly sweet.

-Roxy’s pill addiction is getting to the point where she’s threatening her colleague for pills.

Best one liners:

  • “Oh my God, I think I found 1980s babywear!” (Oscar).
  • “He’s marvellously Scandinavian isn’t he?” (Julius on Oscar).
  • “Did you get a DNA test first?” (Oscar to Julia on her sexual encounter with Carl).