Air date: 14th July 2011
Cast: Todd Lasance, Hamish Michael, Ella Scott Lynch, Andrea Demetriades, Indiana Evans, Marta Dusseldorp, Lewis Fitz-Gerald
Synopsis: An Australian legal drama primarily following the careers of 5 young lawyers in the Department for Public Prosecutions. Sold under the horrendous tagline “sex, lies, and magistrates”, it is a series that in advertising emphasises the more titillating elements of the series, which in actual fact is a refreshing legal drama highlighting how our legal system differs from what we see in US produced legal dramas. The 5 lead actors also have burgeoning storylines that paint them as more than two-dimensional, ambitious go-getters.
Bride of Film Nerd and I regularly indulge in a Wednesday ABC viewing splurge, starting with Angry Boys at 9pm, Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable at 9.30pm, and At the Movies at 10pm. The last few weeks of this we have been inundated with promos for Crownies, which ave certainly highlighted that the show is one of a promiscuous nature, and perhaps trying to ride the coat-tails of the type of drama offered by Australian series like Underbelly.
The ads were annoying, but we were willing to give the show a go, just as we agreed to turn it off 15 minutes in if it offered little more than what the ads promised. In the end, we stuck around for both episodes that were shown on the evening. Early on it lived up to its perceived reputation, with the younger lawyers all getting ready for the office Christmas party, where skimpy outfits and inter-office romances were all the rage. Amidst these events though, the seeds were sewn for some interesting cases that the DPP was dealing with at the time. We meet in addition to the young quintet Janet King (Dusseldorp),Senior Crown Prosecutor, who has some material handed to her that could have severe political impact. Meanwhile she is trying a murder case that she knows presents a major hole in the evidence, yet she had no choice at the time to go to trial.
As for the series leads, we meet Ben (Lasance), who is cocky and self-assured, as well as being both a suck up, and a womaniser. He appears little more than an unlikeable character, though by the end of the second episode, we get a glimpse of his upbringing, and perhaps a (slim) chance at a deeper person being present under the bravado. Tatum (Evans), as organiser of the Christmas party and first female seen scantily clad, initially appears to be Ben’s female opposite. However, she shows she is a person of great initiative, solving the hole in Janet’s murder trial, as well as being incredibly supportive of nervous colleague Richard (Michael). The latter is my favourite character to date. He clearly has a heart and a wish to do well. He is dedicated and professional, and is horrified by some of the cases that cross his desk, pleading to get a rest from reading sex crime briefs. His first time in court goes horrendously bad, yet Tatum is good enough to support him and pick him up from his fall. Erin (Lynch) is another lawyer with a heart, who makes it her mission to assist a brain-damaged girl who has claimed her father offered her at a truck stop for sex. She is guilty of one or two bad choices in the course of the first episode, but her goals remain noble. Finally that leaves Lina (Demetriades). Hers is perhaps one of the more capable of this young group, though it is early days, and her character has perhaps not had enough time yet to get established.
I found the performances uniformly brilliant and believable. As for plot, I found myself being slowly drawn in to some extremely interesting stories, both inside and out of the courtroom. I also found it refreshing to see the Australian legal system on show, with the added bonus that much of the show is filmed in Parramatta, a regular haunt of my own, which small as it may be, did give me a greater connection to the programme. I also found myself warming to most of the characters already, which is impressive for a show in its infancy.
I will be watching Crownies again this Thursday. The promos sell the series short, and I think perhaps may have attracted an audience to which the crux of the show is not targeted. This promises to be an intelligent, involving series. Time will tell whether it delivers on the promise.
3.5 stars out of 5