Archive | March 2018

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 3 (Hic Sunt Dracones)

This episode got Harrow out of the office and out of Brisbane.

This episode immediately kicked off with the case of the week and I swear that each week, the moments of discovery when it comes to the crime of the week are getting more graphic and gruesome. I’m not sure what the writers’ have planned for next week’s episode, but I think they would have found it hard to top a human arm in a crocodile’s stomach.

As the crocodile and the accompanying human arm were found in North Queensland, Saroya and Harrow fly up north to Airlie Beach to investigate and eventually solve the case. This marks the first time that Harrow is out of the office and away from his family, and the focus shifts to the sexual tension between him and Saroya.

Of course when any show or rather episode of a show focuses on sexual tension, a threat and third wheel has to be thrown into the mix, which for Harrow comes in the form of local Sergeant, Gabriel Capello (Richard Brancatisano). Capello is a good local cop, Italian, and is so handsome that even Harrow notices, which becomes a good but not great running gag, but other than a threat or third well, Capello doesn’t really bring anything else to the episode. While Millicent (Lynette Curran) provided some great comic relief and helped Harrow and Saroya find the body, she also didn’t add all that much to the episode.

Overall the case was very out there and unusual, and the red herrings were decent. I did enjoy that Harrow solved the case when one of the co-conspirators got their comeuppance by being poisoned by their choice of murder weapon, something which isn’t seen all that often. The case as a whole–a crocodile eating the arm of a human poisoned by phosphine, stealing the identity of a boat owner, and lizard smuggling–is something which isn’t seen all that often on a crime drama. It was a good case, and I get that a crime drama is bound to be graphic, but perhaps this case took it a little too far. Feel free to disagree with me.

There wasn’t much of a subplot in this episode as the focus was mainly on the crocodile case. Fern’s birthday is briefly focused on but not enough to make it memorable. This blip of a subplot reveals more about Steph and Harrow’s relationship than it does about Fern. The subplot reveals that Steph asked Harrow to track Fern down via Lewison, and the fact that Steph asks Harrow if he wants to come over and he contemplates it shows that feelings are still there between them, something likely to be explored in later episodes.

Just when we think that the River Bones case has been forgotten completely and Harrow thinks he may have gotten away with it, Simon finds an orthopaedic plate with a serial number, which can help with identifying the skeleton and Harrow’s secret. This was the perfect way to end as it provides the next clue in the mystery and is the perfect stepping stone for the next episode.

 

Stray Observations:

-Running gags:

  • Harrow’s repeatedly stating how much he hates lizards when in close proximity to crocodiles.
  • Harrow’s jealousy of Capello’s looks and Italian perfection.

-Apparently Harrow hoses his shoes a lot.

-This episode reveals that Steph is a teacher.

-Millicent’s knowledge of crocodile mating rituals and using them as an ice breaker was hilarious.

Best one liners:

  • “If I see one more beautiful Italian my eyes may burn out” (Harrow on Capello and his family)
  • “I’ll get your boat porn” (Simon to Harrow)

 

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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.