Despite the first night blitz for Packed to the Rafters, Underbelly is still the only breakout drama of 2008.
So while Seven is elated by the audience rapture for City Homicide, Nine also launches its local cops in The Strip. So it was logical for the network light on local drama, TEN, to find its own franchise with Rush. The question will be, is there room for all?
Rush was originally conceived in 2004 as Rapid Response, a critical response unit who tackle everything from hostage sieges to suicide attempts. But it didn’t pick up the option which had starred Mathew Le Nevez, Libby Tanner and Corrine Grant. Fast forward to the US writer’s strike when everyone went back to the drawing board.
The revamped Rush, now with Rodger Corser, Catherine McClements, Samuel Johnson and several newcomers is very good indeed. It opens with a high-octane chase, distinguished by a stunning helicopter shot over Melbourne and a frenetic footrace enacted by a nimble stuntman.
Unlike the suited cowboys of City Homicide, the Rush squad resemble a SWAT team. They are armed with high tech communications, including mobile cameras, which add to the show’s contemporary feel. It is chockful of hand-held camera work, overlapping dialogue and tense music. You can certainly sense a revamped Police Rescue DNA here (its pilot was based on one of their scripts), with a dose of 24 to boot. While Rodger Corser shines as the Team Leader, Sam Johnson works at the Operations Centre, co-ordinating the team via TV screens, computers and radio.
Elsewhere in the cast, Catherine McClements arrives to Rush as a gutsy Inspector, while Callan Mulvey is a tough but temperamental Sergeant. Nicole da Silva, who was so strong in Edwards’ Dangerous for FOX8, will also be one to watch.
As with Seven’s cops, Rush is part of a generic ‘State Police’ which allows producers to depict a flawed force. Police violence rears its head in the opening episode. Significantly, the drama also dares to give some of its stories an imperfect ending, creating a more realistic sense of police life than the heroes we are usually presented with in this genre.
These traits alone suggest Rush is worth the ride.