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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Where things are not so straight with the Montebello family

Author: Roger Burke from Brisbane, Australia
16 June 2012

Every society has its underworld and gangster aspects, many of which are portrayed in film and TV. The USA had its Godfather and Sopranos; the Irish with the IRA; the English with the Krays. And, who can forget the Italians and Russians with their mafias?

So, I was reminded of those precursors when series one of this look at the state of gang warfare in far north Australia finished on TV recently. With the help of Brian Cox – always a great heavy, in my opinion, as local 'mafia' boss Harry Montebello - portraying a long-time Pommie immigrant who runs a family of smugglers and murderers based in Cairns, this series presents a realistic panorama of events that show how family and blood ties matter, especially within the black community.

And given a surname like Montebello, it's not surprising that Harry is not a guy to be messed with.

The series also shows how parental guidance – and misguidance – shapes the offspring into a life of crime, bringing them to accept and work with it despite the obvious contradictions. Recall, for example, how Michael Corleone (in the 1972 Godfather movie) very readily resorted to violence and omerta when his father is almost assassinated by another mob. Montebello's sons take up a similar challenge when he is almost done in by an imported hit-man hired by a local Hell's Angels group. Or...was it the Hell's Angels?

So, the story line/plot here is not too much different to other great efforts of the gangster genre. What sets this apart, though, is the degree of distrust and internecine fighting that ensues after the attempted assassination of big Harry. How all that pans out is very entertaining and quite realistic, I think.

Of particular note is Harry's daughter, Sissi (played by Suzannah Bayes-Morton), as the squeaky clean apple of Harry's eye, and the one whom he trusts the most to succeed in her studies to lead a normal life. Well, apart from Sissi, Harry's got a few other surprises in store, especially about his sons, his wife and his lover.

But, it takes ten well produced and well acted episodes to reveal all of the shenanigans of this crowd of no-goods of the far north of Australia. As a piece of Australian culture, it's probably close to what could happen, given the context and circumstances.

And, for me, what is deliciously entertaining are the ironic twists that the writer, Louis Nowra, injects into this sordid tale of family woe. Indeed, there is a touch of Greek tragedy in the final episode that lifts this story into an arena I didn't expect: I'm actually looking forward to the next series.

Highly recommended.

June 17, 2012

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

EXCELLENT and Compelling Drama

Author: Man99204 from United States
25 February 2016

I saw this program listed on Netflix. I knew nothing about it. Brian Cox was the only actor in the series I had ever heard of.

I have watched the first ten episodes - and was mesmerized.

It is one of most well scripted series I have seen in longer than I can remember.In this type of program, the script drives everything else - and it is very well done.

The ensemble cast is totally believable from start to finish. They sell the script in a completely convincing way.

Another great perk is that this series is filmed in Queensland Australia,. Each episode is brim full of incredibly beautiful scenery and the local flavor and culture.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This is a Great show!

Author: gabiorganics2013 from NYC
28 August 2013

I started watching this show on Hulu without knowing anything about the show. The acting is fantastic! The story lines are compelling and believable for that sort of gangster lifestyle. The scenery is lovely especially the views from the airplane which shows all the little islands off the coast of Australia with the aqua colored waters. The actors were very well chosen for this show. It seems to me they use locals as extras who are sooo believable to their rough characters. This show is definitely a winner and I hope they are filming a second season as they can't leave us with such curiosity for more. Go to Hulu and watch the entire first season it's worth it!!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Crime and tribalism justified.

Author: Paul Creeden from Boston, MA, USA
20 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am generally a fan of Australian productions. I also get Australia's deep historical roots in working-class crime. I even liked the American version of this genre, The Sopranos. That was then; this is now.

There is a difference in this series. The Montebello clan have no redeeming characteristics at all. They are all selfish and ruthless. There is no innocent among them with the possible exception of Coco the dog. They all lack charm in their corrupted misery.

I am surprised by Brian Cox in this series. He usually plays evil with panache. His character in this show is lack-luster at best. Rena Owen plays Kitty with similar restraint. Her usually fiery persona seems to smolder throughout the show with little expression. This gives her the air of a suburban housewife-gone-native in reverse, rather than an authentic power broker of her tribe. Emma Lung as Lola provides some intrigue in a generally boiler-plate plot line.

The production values are decent. Tropical vistas. Interesting views of a glossy Queensland existence. Cramer Cain as Eddie is a bright spot with his goofy shtick. However, I cannot say I would recommend this to anyone.

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Not surprised that there was only 1 season

Author: qui_j from USA
18 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a poorly conceived copy of the gangster family genre like "The Sopranos", "Mafiosa",etc. It's about the dysfunctional family dynamics of an Australian crime family syndicate with a reach from the Queensland area, all the way north to Papua New Guinea. The acting is pretty bad, and the attempts at slapstick type humor just fall flat (maybe not in Australia.) The last couple of episodes seemed to be very rushed, as if the writers and cast knew the show would not be extended. I don't usually include spoilers in my reviews but in one of the last episodes they show one of the lead actors escaping from a prison van by cutting his way out, using an old fashioned can opener. Really? Escaping from a van is similar to cutting open a can? That, for me, was the rock-bottom moment of the series! In essence, this is not a high-quality production of the genre but it does highlight the beautiful natural beauty of Australia's tropical areas.

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Giving fulfillment and pleasure to viewers with each scene

Author: floatingpolarbear from United States
3 June 2016

Truly good and unforgettable series with strong, believable characters you can't help becoming obsessed with. Tightly and delicately woven down to the smallest details, littlest characters that make a splash with just a couple of exchanges delivered in the perfect tone, with the perfect look and authentic feel. All is very well thought out to make you feel like a tiny fly in that world, observing its rawness and the evolution of the story. Very entertaining premise of a crime family with adopted, now adult children, all so different from one another but one and all caught in the web that is their given world. Would like to see a continuation as I can't get enough.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A crime story story set in Far North Queensland

Author: Chloe Hughes from melbourne, Australia
31 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Kitty (Rena Owen) and Harry (Brian Cox) couldn't have children so they adopted Marou (Jimi Bani), Noel (Aaron Fa'aoso) and Sissi (Suzannah Bayes-Morton) from her extended family and Gary (Firass Dirani) from Harry's family. Instead of making the eldest -Noel- in charge of the family which is Kitty's cultural way, Harry decides to put each of his sons pitted against each other to see who is worthy of taking over Harry's role when he retires of the business which is running their family legal business the croc farm and their gravel business. Also there's the shady illegal business which includes smuggling guns and wildlife out and drugs into Australia. There is similarities to Shakespeare's Macbeth with second adopted son Marou and his social climbing ambitious wife Lola (Emma Lung) who advices him that he is worthy of taking over Harry's role.

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