Young Lions: articles

Viewers give slick city cops the bullet

Australian televiewers don't want their crime-fighting to be sexy, urban and ambiguous. They prefer it daggy, in the bush, and decisive.

That conclusion could be drawn from the performance on Wednesday night of the first of the new wave of "hot justice" programs.

In the game of chicken between Seven's veteran cop show Blue Heelers and Nine's new cop show Young Lions, the Lions swerved and crashed while the Heelers barely blinked.

The much-publicised premiere of Young Lions, about sullen cops confronting Sydney gangs and each other, averaged a million viewers over two hours, with a peak audience of 1.3 million across the mainland capitals.

At the same time, Blue Heelers, about cheerful cops confronting all human life in a Victorian village, averaged 1.5million over its hour.

And that may offer an explanation: the preoccupation in Young Lions with cops who don't know right from wrong. As a Seven executive remarked yesterday: "If you want to know about corrupt cops in Sydney, you just have to buy a newspaper." By contrast, watchers of Blue Heelers can escape to where cops are straight and true.

The Young Lions result was not only a shock for Nine. Ten has also invested in a sexy city cop show, White Collar Blue, while Seven has invested in a sexy city lawyer show, Marshall Law, both due to start in August.

Nine put a brave face on the result yesterday. Program director John Stephens said he was "extremely confident we can build on last night's ratings".

By David Dale
July 19, 2002
The Age