The Circuit

I am back at 2SER 107.3 doing a TV review segment called TV on the Radio during Wednesday Overdrive.  Hear it some time between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesdays.

This week I reviewed the new SBS drama The Circuit, which screens on Sunday at 9.30pm… here are a few of my thoughts.

This 6 part miniseries revolves around Drew Ellis, played by Aaron Pedersen, who is a city-educated Aboriginal lawyer who takes up work in the Kimberley, doing the circuit around makeshift courts in remote Aboriginal communities. The central character has a conflict between his educated well to do upbringing in Perth and his Aboriginal heritage. The internal conflict is a clever device because this character is a stranger in his environment, and he feels he shouldn’t be because he is indigenous, and the audience is also a stranger, and we shouldn’t be because we are Australian. So he can kind of guide us in this foreign world.

First episodes of dramas have the tendency to be a bit clunky because everyone has to introduce everyone else, and the plot has to be established, so the story didn’t get a lot of momentum to start with, but as the episode progressed the pace picked up and you got a taste of what this series could deliver.

I believe this show really has a lot of potential. It doesn’t seem to fit in any of the traditional ‘boxes’ for drama. It’s not a medical drama, it’s not a coming of age drama. It is legal, but in an entirely different context to the normal office and city based stories. It’s also very different from your average legal drama because most shows in that category tend to deal with one large case throughout an episode, but in The Circuit the sheer volume of legal cases means that the plot doesn’t rely on the viewer becoming attached to a particular victim or mystery. I think this is a positive thing, because if the show solely depicted Aboriginal Australians in a victim role it would be unbalanced and a completely wasted opportunity to deal with contemporary issues.

And deal with the issues it does. Petty theft, drug use, the lack of public transport, colonialism and the stolen generation were just a few of the topics hit upon in the first episode. While not all of the acting is stellar, it is believable. The large Aboriginal cast put in convincing performances and the use of stunning outback locations adds to the gritty realism.

The choppy camera work tries to give the series a documentary feel, but I felt it was perhaps a bit over the top and could be toned down a bit.

While showing the problems facing these remote communities, The Circuit hasn’t fallen in to the trap of being too preachy, at least not yet. I felt it took more of a showing approach rather than ramming a particular view down the audience’s throat, and ultimately I think this works, because this series deals with complex issues, issues that are not just black and white (excuse the terrible pun), and I am glad it hasn’t resorted to giving just one side of the story to make it more palatable. This series shows that drama doesn’t have to rely on fantasy and doesn’t have to come from American moulds… there are enough trials and tribulations in our own backyard to create compelling television.

Got curves? Ditto, sister girlfriend.

MagimageBeth Ditto, lead singer of rock outfit The Gossip, has appeared totally starkers on the front cover of the NME.

Beth has gained notoriety not just for her music, but for having notoriety and not being skinny.

But looking at the image on the cover, despite her arguments that she is smashing typical notions of female beauty, I can’t help but ponder… has this been photoshopped?

She is a curvy girl, yet there is not a stretch mark in sight.  Not any sign of cellulite on her thighs or bum.  Maybe she is extremely fortunate… but it makes me think that this image has been airbrushed.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool that she is confident enough to do this and that something like this is getting on the front cover of a music press institution like the NME, but if we are going to smash the idea that beauty fits certain ideals, shouldn’t we down the digital paintbrush as well?

There is an interesting post about it on this blog, and some varied comments (some insightful, some highly immature), so check it out.  I agree with what is said in the post there in a way…. a photo of Beth Ditto with her kit on might have meant more in terms of trying to defy the idea of conventional beauty… but the shock value of the nude photo also brings greater publicity to the cause, and possibly sparks more public debate on the issue. A clothed shot might not have got people talking so much.  So I’m not sure what I think about it.

I’m glad though that her size hasn’t stopped her getting recognition for her music though… but her band is pretty alternative, so I doubt we will be seeing anyone like this appearing in the pop charts soon.  But the indie scene is pretty skinnycentric as well (just look at all those guys in skinny jeans and tight shirts at your local indie venue…), so I guess this is refreshing.

And the other thing that springs to mind is whether Australia would be willing to support Casey Donovan in a career relaunch.  Would they go for a cover like this on the front of the TV Week?  Apparently she is trying to lose weight with the help of ironman Guy Richie before relaunching her career… because I guess fat girls can’t sing or something like that…

Tim Bailey

Channel 10′s weatherman (in Sydney at least) is Tim Bailey.

Timbailey The first thing that strikes me about Mr Bailey when he appears on my TV screen (usually momentarily after I storm through the door after battling a day at work and the Sydney traffic) is that he is extremely orange.  The only other regular person who appears on my TV that could battle his orangeness is the person that plays the character Cassie on Home and Away.

I’ve strained my brain to try and think what Tim would look like if he wasn’t orange with peroxided hair, but no image springs to mind.  It seems improbable that he has ever waltzed out the door without a sunset orange treatment.  This makes me strain my brain to picture what he will look like at the age of 75.  This is also a difficult thing to imagine, but he’d probably fit right in at some sort of Condo development in Florida.

The second thing that hits me after the orangeness is the way that he shouts the weather at me… with puns and rhymes.  It’s not rain… it’s "drips and drops across rooftops and crops". This was possibly slightly humorous the first time I heard it.  But he manages to throw this in to the weather report every night without fail, despite the drought.  Dude, think of some new puns or rhymes, you are on TV five nights a week, you can’t reuse your material so blantantly.  He also bellows the weather… instead of telling me it’s fine and 33 in Brissy, he belts it at me, so that I feel like I am being verbally abused in a country where "sunny and 29" is a phrase people use when they are getting fired up in a conversation about the injustice of politics or parking metres or somesuch.

The third thing that strikes me about Tim Bailey is that despite his flaws, he seems like a pretty nice, friendly, unpretentious person.  Which is probably why he is on TV despite the rhymes and dyes.  And it makes me feel slightly guilty about bitching about him… not guilty enough to stop though.