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Tourist Authority video-postcard posing as thriller, or vice versa?
When I watched Part I of this two-part series (sight unseen, no peeking at the newspaper blurb), my immediate reaction was that it HAD to be an international co-production, since it suffers from that curious and embarrassing mannerism of nearly all productions made jointly by two (or three) national broadcasters, namely a perceived need to show countless clichéd images of the countries and cities concerned, presumably so that the Aussies can see "what London looks like" and the Brits can see how nine kinds of wonderful Sydney is.
Hence the action was punctuated every few seconds with expensive helicopter footage of locations like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the London Eye, the Sydney Opera House, Big Ben, the Gherkin, St. Paul's, Piccadilly Circus by night (have I left anyone out?) and we got no authentic sense of "place" at all, simply bleeding chunks of what some imagination-challenged advertising agency thinks tourists want to see, OUGHT to see.
This approach actually seems a little pathetic and lacking in national self-confidence for a mini-series made in 2009 (and not a film from 1959), as though the show somehow still felt obliged to serve up eye-candy vignettes of the places to be at all "relevant".
The British do not feel a similar need for these postcard shots when they are working alone and/or for a domestic audience, and I rather doubted the Australians would really be so gauche that they think their own grown-ups need to be treated to an open-top-bus sightseeing tour between snippets of violence or dialogue.
Well... it turns out I was dead wrong about the co-production angle. It seems to be an OZ production plain and simple (and several people have mocked the wandering accents of the cast, too), sold on to UKTV, whose involvement was thus presumably only financial and not "artistic".
I'm not sure what that says about the mindset of the makers (or perhaps after all they got seed-money from the NSW Tourism Development Office and other similar instances in the UK), but personally I found the tacky inserts immensely intrusive and annoying, and I couldn't help thinking that if they had spent less on them and more on the nuts & bolts of script and direction (and had even hired an actor with a smidgen of dramatic skills and no facial paralysis to play Ian Porter) they might instead have been able to create a thriller that held my attention.
Still, they are definitely not the first to fall into this trap, and sure as hell they won't be the last. Unfortunately.
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