Young Lions: articles

Cop this!

If you think there are too many police shows on TV, you ain't seen nothing yet. Michael Idato reports.

Police dramas might be the last of the great television cliches, but Southern Star Entertainment chief executive Erroll Sullivan believes there are still stories to be told.

He has good reason to. Two good reasons, in fact. Last week, Sullivan's company started work on a new police drama, Young Lions, and a sitcom, Bad Cop, Bad Cop.

"We're doing this classic young-skewing cop show, all nice and straight, combined with an old-world, black, corrupt comedy," Sullivan laughs.

Though divergent in style, they share a pedigree with Blue Murder, the ABC's 1995 miniseries about organised crime and police corruption. Young Lions was co-created (with Sullivan) by Blue Murder director Michael Jenkins, while Bad Cop, Bad Cop was created by Blue Murder writer Ian David.

Impressed with two one-hour pilots filmed last year (using the crew of Water Rats, another Southern Star project), the Nine Network has ordered 22 episodes of Young Lions. Starring Alex Dimitriades, Tom Long, Alexandra Davies and Anna Lise Phillips, it is "a classic cop show with a difference", Sullivan says.

"It's going to have a very strong traditional feel, even a classic 1960s feel.

The lighting, the wardrobe, the music and the heroic casting is a wee-bit retro. That is something that hasn't been in cop shows for a while because the cop shows have tended to come from a strong reality base."

Sullivan says Young Lions is more idealistic than "the world-weary, worn-out, corner-cutting police world we're used to seeing". He includes Wildside in this category, a series hailed in its day for its innovation and honesty. "But I put my own shows there, too," he adds. "Water Rats, Blue Heelers, Wildside - these are people who have been dealing in this world all their lives."

In contrast to the idealism of Young Lions, Bad Cop, Bad Cop exploits the darker side of law enforcement and was conceived when Sullivan and David worked together on Blue Murder.

"While we were doing Blue Murder it was apparent to us that a lot of the madness was so out-there and it was so black that is was funny," Sullivan says. "Ian had this idea then of doing a show with two crooked detectives."

The concept has been reworked a number of times - at one point it was to be a vehicle for H.G. Nelson and "Rampaging" Roy Slaven. In its final form, it stars Michael Caton and Daniel Wyllie as the two bent cops.

"Policing for them is very simple," says Sullivan. "Policing for them is using the telephone, and using the telephone books to bash the truth out of people."

Given the scandals that have beset the NSW Police Service over the years, David will have plenty to draw on. "There is plenty of material," Sullivan laughs.

By Michael Idato
April 16 2002