City Homicide: articles

City Homicide 'has the winning formula'

If you want something new and unexpected from your TV drama, the Seven Network's new production City Homicide will disappoint.

But if a twist on a formula proven many times over is more to your taste - and let's face it, that's probably the case - look no further.

Seven's star-studded new crime drama makes no attempt to reinvent the wheel.

In fact, the show's executive producer, John Holmes, proudly admits the program has many of the elements of previous TV successes.

The promised twist is that this cop drama's key cast are a younger breed than past TV crimebusters.

Forget the fedora-wearing, pipe-smoking, grey suit-wearing detectives of crime shows past.

City Homicide's four main protagonists are aged from their late 20s to early 30s.

"The elements are all there as in other shows in the genre," says Holmes.

"But what we've tried to do is set up the idea of a younger groups of detectives.

"Obviously there are going to be comparisons with the old Homicide (a much loved Australian drama which ran from 1964 to 1976 and was also shot in Melbourne), but a more youthful core cast is the major point of difference."

City Homicide draws heavily on the camaraderie and conflict between the self-assured Simon Joyner (Daniel MacPherson), fast-living Duncan Freeman (Aaron Pedersen), the straight-faced member of the group Matt Ryan (Damien Richardson) and his female counterpart, the tough and ambitious Jennifer Mapplethorpe (Nadine Garner).

They are in the business of fighting for justice for the dead. For them it is the most noble of pursuits but one which carries great emotional consequences.

From early episodes, viewers will quickly discover that unlike top-rating crime dramas such as the CSI or Law and Order franchises, City Homicide is more than just a dead body followed by a systematic solving of the case.

It also takes the storylines behind the steely facade of the police force.

"There's a lot of procedural crime drama out there but they don't go very far into the characters' lives behind the scenes and how their job affects them," Holmes says.

"So in that way it's a departure from shows such as CSI."

Holmes says the idea came not from other crime shows, but a program about four young people who returned to their home town for a funeral. He didn't say which one.

The concept has evolved in the six years since but the essence remains the same.

In addition to the four young guns, the familiar faces of Noni Hazlehurst and Shane Bourne in positions of power will be a comfort to viewers.

Bourne plays Detective Senior Sergeant Stanley Wolfe, the immediate boss of our young investigators.

Detective Superintendent Bernice Waverley (Hazlehurst) is the tough-talking motherly figure on the next rung of the police department's ladder.

The show plays heavily on the ideals of the detectives.

We are regularly reminded of their need to know that what they doing is important, not just for finding criminals but to give the ultimate respect to a victim - justice.

But don't think Seven has delivered a dose of doom and gloom.

For one, it takes the hunky Macpherson's character no time to jump into bed, well, the front seat of a car, with a fellow officer's wife.

When the show goes to air the obvious comparisons will be drawn with Nine's recent triumph and locally-made drama, Sea Patrol.

The most expensive drama ever made in Australia, Sea Patrol has been the most watched show each Thursday since it premiered six weeks ago. Including its opening audience of almost two million viewers, it has averaged a touch over 1.7 million viewers.

Although Seven has already won the ratings year, it certainly wouldn't turn down such numbers.

Holmes admits the success of Sea Patrol bodes well for City Homicide and another proposed Seven drama, Packed To The Rafters, for which a pilot episode is being shot next week.

A fourth Seven drama is also in the wings.

Even before Nine launched Sea Patrol, the network was so confident it would work it commissioned a second series, and then a third.

Seven is clearly more conservative than Nine, Holmes says, suggesting executives won't get ahead of themselves.

But the second series is in development and would be delivered by next year if it was ordered.

"There's nothing as strange as folk," Holmes says.

"There are good shows that fail and bad ones that do well, but we think we're onto something here."

August 19, 2007