White Collar Blue: articles

Don Hany and Brooke Satchwell

Theo (Don Hany) and Sophia (Brooke Satchwell) investigate one strand of the case.

Cop drama's place in sun

Actor Peter O'Brien last year described White Collar Blue as good Australian television, a slightly boring, although accurate, description.

The series, which starts again tonight (TV One, 9.30pm), has its own pace and rhythm and has created a credible, attractive world of sun-drenched beaches and crime among the dunes.

In fact, tonight's episode [1.17] begins with the perennial cop show favourite, the murdered girl. Naturally, her body is half-buried in the sand.

If the episode doesn't exactly feel like the start of a new series, that's because we're actually roughly in the middle of season one.

Like the United States dramas, Aussie dramas often have 21 episodes in a series, and they're screened all at once over there. We should be so lucky.

However, by the middle of the first series, White Collar Blue had gained the confidence and verve to warrant its renewal for another 22 episodes, and to make it perfectly acceptable Friday night viewing, especially during winter.

It's set in the fictional Kingsway, really Sydney's southern suburbs, where the socio-demographic spans from the wealthy to new immigrants.

Consequently, locations can range from grungy to designer in a single show.

The show's lead is the roughly handsome O'Brien, who heads a cast of good-looking young actors, including Freya Stafford (Harriet) and Jodie Dry (Nicole), who were nominated for Logie awards this year. O'Brien won a Silver Logie for his role as Joe Hill.

Like just about all cop shows, except maybe CSI, the stories are a mix of the professional and personal, where sometimes the crime being investigated echoes the characters' personal lives. And so it is tonight, where the murder of a young mother brings up tensions for Sophia (Brooke Satchwell), a detective trying to raise her son alone.

How ones so young managed to become detectives is a mystery in itself (as is how Sophia's partner Theo—Don Hany—manages to keep that leather jacket on in the sunshine), but the stories are split into the two couples: Joe and Harriet and Sophia and Theo, who investigate various strands of a case.

The stories often follow the same pattern: body washes up, investigations turn up more than one suspect, the case is more complicated than at first thought, eventually a guest actor gets their confessional moment in the interview room with Joe and Harriet. Case closed.

The show is enlivened by the odd bit of action—a chase, a scuffle, some mild police brutality—and the interplay between the characters, including craggy captain Ted Hudson, played by Richard Carter. Normally taciturn, Hudson had his moment in the sun earlier in the series, when it was revealed he has a schizophrenic son.

Tonight, in between the telling-offs he gives regularly to staff, he digs himself a wee hole explaining what a lover's lane down by the beach was like in his day.

Carter and O'Brien, both screen veterans, also seem to be enjoying their sarcastic lines together.

It's certainly a nice change to hear accents closer to home reading the perps their rights, too.

White Collar Blue is another example of the Aussies happily taking an American genre and making it their own.

By Fiona Rae
July 11, 2003
New Zealand Herald