... and a lot of the countryside, too.
Seems that Underbelly, a Tale of Two Cities is full of cons:
THE 1977 murder of Donald Mackay was a defining moment in Australian history and the truth about it needs to be told.
Unfortunately - entertaining as it may be - the new Underbelly television series isn't telling it like it was.
That wouldn't be so bad if they were up front and admitted they were embellishing, dramatising and just plain making bits up, but it is being promoted heavily as a true story.
What makes things worse is that the program's makers appear to have ignored their own consultants, respected Melbourne journalists John Silvester and Andrew Rule.
I've seen the first four episodes of Underwhelmy II and while it goes OK in parts, the overall is pretty thin. Just about the whole third episode, for instance, was, to be blunt: rubbish. A cynical excuse for Matthew Newton, his Kiwi girlfriend and assorted body doubles to get their kit off. To say it was gratuitous nudity is to sell gratuitous short. It was low-rent Chances-like sexploitation from Nine, who obviously think the best way to deal themselves back into the ratings game is to flash as much skin and simulate as much sex as is televisually possible. Naturally, it is working.
But it's not just the raunch-lite. The makers infused the show with about as much menace as a a pillow fight on It's A Knockout. Sure, people are killed, many in violent ways, but the architecture of each scene in pissweak, to coin a Vidmar. Compare it to the great crime movies and TV shows: the doom Coppola creates when Fredo is bumped off in Godfather II; Joe Pesci's "Oh, fuck" in Goodfellas when he realises he is not about to be "made" he is about to be, well, unmade; the demise of our very own man of ham, Gary Sweet, when he jumps into the cop car in Blue Murder and suddenly knows he's a gonner; the bar fights in Underwhelmy II are not a patch on the bar fights in Blue Murder which almost jump out of the television, at which point I grab my drink, jump out of my recliner, and scurry to the side of the room.
Then there's the silly. Monday night's episode had a character bumped off in his bathroom. By my accurate count the hitters fired 32,478 bullets and yet there was not a scratch on the tiles, just a healthy smear of blood. I mean, come on.
Underwhelmy is certainly interesting from a local viewer's perspective, and Roy Billing is good for a chuckle as Paul Aussie Bob Trimbole, but the lack of a Roxburgh/Rogerson or Martin/Smith means this will never be considered a great piece of television. It will most likely be remembered, if it is remembered at all, as a semi-accurate docudrama, with some adequate acting and accents.