Rush on a knife edge

By David Knox on August 16, 2011 / Filed Under News 35

Minor Spoilers: Last year there was an awful lot of action on our screens: Cops LAC, Sea Patrol, City Homicide, Rescue Special Ops and Rush.

In a few weeks time, only one of them will be left standing -TEN’s tactical response unit in Rush.

It enters its fourth season re-energised with a “mini-series” story arc that differs from previous seasons which were largely stand-alone episodes.

“We’re following one story through for the whole 13 episodes. Each episode is self-contained, but there is a strong through-line,” explains Producer Mimi Butler.

“The opening of the first episode is the assassination of the Minister of Police and it kicks off a pretty big investigation: why, how, where, what’s it all about? It’s a really juicy story, but at the same time each episode has a beginning, middle and end.

“It takes Rush up a notch and broadens it so that it’s not just suburban crime but state crime.”

This season all the principal characters return, joined by Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune) and Emily Wheaton (The Slap, Noah & Saskia, Neighbours).

“Antony plays Charlie and he really shakes up the whole team. Emily is a guest character in the control room playing Amber, Leon’s niece.”

But Butler is coy on whether all the characters are still in place by the end of the fourth season.

The series was inspired in 2008 by Victorian Police setting up its 2005 Critical Incident Response Team in support of the Special Operations Group.

“Victoria setting up CIRT is what provoked the whole show, because they wanted to bring down the number of deaths that were happening when Police were called to critical incidents.

“They wanted to create a skilled group of Police to respond who had alternative methods of policing with negotiation skills, tasers and were able to resolve things.

“I think Queensland’s got one, New Zealand’s got one, they’ve now gone rural with them in Victoria.

“But we amalgamated it in Rush because we wanted the capability of following the story through to the end. So we kind of upscaled them with a SWAT team, but still with that philosophy of non-lethal policing and trying to resolve situations without causing harm.”

Setting the series within a fictional ‘State Police’ allows the drama, like City Homicide before it, to explore stories which may be at odds with policing, such as endemic corruption. This contrasts with former dramas such as Blue Heelers which had a Victoria Police consultant on staff.

“We can show the grey areas. We do have a lot of freedom because we’re not beholden to the Victoria Police,” says Butler.

“It’s good because then we can debate points of law.”

Yet the series also embraces its Melbourne backdrop, including using actual location names for its street names, many of which are set in the CBD and western suburbs.

“We don’t try to set it in the West but there’s a lot of great locations with all different levels of affluence in the West. You can get beautiful 3 or 4 storey mansions or you can get some dives, industrial, semi-rural,” she says.

Rush has definitely got a look that lends itself to it and that’s the eye of the directors and the D.o.P. And our location department is amazing with what they keep coming up with.

“It’s amazing how many times you chat to people and they are so excited to be able to work out where things are and they use the real names. It was something we decided to do on season one.

“People from other states call me up when they see the suburb they used to live in. It’s just a little quirk of the show.”

This season of 13 episodes is a shorter order than 2010′s 22 episodes. Butler says the decision was collaborative between producers Southern Star and TEN.

“We would have had the same amount of time to make 22, so to sustain that quality you would have to rip, tear and bust. We all love the show and none of us wanted to do that. Two years of 22 was hard slog and you end up with some fabulous episodes but some that fall through the net,” she says.

But with TEN’s 2012 Programming Launch tomorrow night, Butler admits to not knowing whether or not Rush will be renewed. By the end of the fourth season the drama will no longer qualify for a 20% Tax Rebate.

“They look at ratings, they look at the show, but who knows? It’s very difficult with financing because we’ve hit our 65 mark,” Butler admits.

“Funding plays part of it because you can only get the tax rebate up to 65 episodes, and we’ll get to 70. So after 65 every episode is 20% more expensive which will be the case for our last 5 episodes.

“But you never say never. If it rated well enough and enough people watched it and all of a sudden people say ‘There’s a way to finance this,’ then I’m sure there would be life. But I think it would be very difficult.”

So has the series been written with a sense of finality or is it open-ended?

“There’s always room to move forward. We don’t blow everyone up!” she insists.

“If they wanted to do another 13 or telemovies there is definitely life. Underbelly made some telemovies. There’s always possibilities depending on how the audience like it.”

But there is still room for optimism. Last year TEN delayed a decision from its September Programming Launch to assess the show’s performance and this year the network surely needs drama points. Butler is buoyed by the fact all the cast, who were out of contract, wanted to return and the show’s fanbase is fiercely loyal.

“It’s a very loyal following because the characters and the show are very defined. It’s really nice. I hope all our viewers come back, and then some.”

Rush returns to TEN soon.

35 Comments »

  1. Sandra January 25, 2012 at 12:49 am -

    We love Rush. This is one series that my daughter and I look forward to watching together

  2. Rod Luttrell September 6, 2011 at 7:46 am -

    I love Rush .I have missed the first episode of this current season .Channel TEN should have more catch up episodes of this drama (eg replay in HD on ONE ) because if I miss an episode I do not watch the whole series until it is replayed on PAY TV much later . The quality of the TEN website is bad when you change to full screen on your laptop (as I have attempted this) the show is so jumpy and out of sync it is unwatchable in this format online . Channel TEN support your local dramas and have more catch up opportunities on your freeview network as is done for your reality shows like The Renovators .

  3. John August 25, 2011 at 11:03 am -

    I do hope that Rush returns and is renewed for series 5. Australian drama has never seen anything as close to Rush.

    Sure we’ve had Blue Heelers, which was great, but that focused itself around stationed-police, whilst we see Rush, which sees their crew members out on the streets every-minute, which is all action pack and great for the views, something that is fast, entertaining to watch and has never really been done on Australian television.

    All is hoping that Rush is yet again renewed, as it is far too early to call the quits, with such interesting stories being created episode after episode, the things that all audiences really want to watch.
    If channel Ten axe Rush so early, basically it would be time to say “now, there is nothing interesting on television” as we would just go back to seeing the same thing being done over and over again.

    We all look forward to the Premiere of Rush season 4, and the announcement that Southern-Star Productions together with Channel Ten have renewed Rush for season 5.

  4. LW August 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm -

    Im so glad Rush is back on.
    This show is so amazingly good. I just get a rush watching it
    With loveable characters like Leon and Mr Grumpy Lawson Blake, You cant help but get addicted to it.

  5. Harry August 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm -

    @Maverick

    Whats your story mate? “Low rating filth?” “Sh*t?” Since when do ratings represent the quality of a show? It’s a TV Show.. as if your using such volatile language against superb show like Rush. Buy all the seasons and watch them.

    Oh.. and its ratings havent been too bad considering TEN’s had real bad luck with almost all their shows except for Masterchef + a few others.

  6. Shintaro August 17, 2011 at 11:24 am -

    @Maverick

    Rush is “sh*t”? “Filth”? Whoa! Are you confused or just having an incredibly bad day?

  7. Maverick August 17, 2011 at 8:14 am -

    @ David Knox you are right there are 15 other free to air channels to watch but there are only a certain amout of Australian dramas a TV network can produce at any given time (usually only 2 or 3 at the most per year) why should that “space” go to waste on such low rating filth when it can be replaced with something half decent that people actually watch.

  8. KFed August 17, 2011 at 12:55 am -

    Rush is certainly one of the better local dramas. I feel like it would be huge if it were on Seven.

  9. David Knox August 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm -

    It’s always surprising that when people don’t like a show that find it necessary to attack rather than allow others to enjoy it. There are 15 other Free to Air channels offering alternatives at the same time as Rush.

  10. Maverick August 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm -

    As Mr Packer would say: “Get this sh*t off the air!” This is just another one of Ten’s long list of pathetic dramas, the sooner we see the back of it and make a drama with real quality for a change the better.

  11. Daria August 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm -

    “The fact that the only type of action that the tv industry can provide is through a cop show [...]”

    *cough* Sea Patrol, Rescue: Special Ops *cough* ;-)

  12. Craig August 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm -

    @supercujo – Nine killed Flashpoint by not showing the pilot first then running other eps out of order and not letting it time to grow. It should be on GO! or GEM. Now in it’s 4th season in Canada.

  13. Armchair Analyst August 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm -

    I am not surprised at this not at all. Cop shows in this country are overused and over rated. The people are over it, because every type of Cop show at least in this country has been done already. The tv industry needs different type of action. The fact that the only type of action that the tv industry can provide is through a cop show really goes to show that the creators, writers and producers have run out of ideas, or that the networks do not want to take on anything new because of how unpredictable it is and the risk is higher, no wonder most of the good shows are going to Foxtel.

  14. Harry August 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm -

    I cant wait – this show is one of the few that has me watching every week. I’ve stuck by it, even when the episodes got a little tiresome in certain parts of the past 2 seasons.

    I think the writers tried to handle too complicated plots in its past few seasons – I think they were a little too complex and it was very contrasting with what we saw in S1 of Rush. I just love the character interaction – lets face it, the characters make the show worth watching! Im looking forward to its return – it deserves big ratings. Hope it happens!

  15. Nicholas August 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm -

    Is Rush are going to be return on television next Thursday?

  16. ryan August 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm -

    Yay! Sooo can’t wait for it:)

  17. Gonzo August 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm -

    Ratings might be bad but compared with The Renovators (and 90% of the rest of their schedule), it’s a smash hit!!

  18. Regina costello August 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm -

    Who needs ratings, listen to the fans, we love Rush, bring on series 5, please please please

  19. JB August 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm -

    Another great quality show that suffers poor ratings (much like City Homicide’s last season). I really hope they renew it though. Great cast, great writing, great action. Not nearly enough Rodger Corser nudity though.
    Sounds like an interesting concept for this season. Again it sounds like City Homicide’s final year so hope that’s not a sign.

  20. Elle August 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm -

    I absolutely love this show! Great acting and the best eye candy on Aussie TV :)

  21. tellie August 16, 2011 at 11:05 am -

    It’s a good show, good cast, hope it works out for Rush. Night and time, and sticking with both, will be the answer here, after that it will be up to the no.s I guess. Brand TEN has only 3 dramas, Neighbours, Rush, and Offspring, surely an Aus Network can make that small no. of work $’s-wise? Here is hoping for a 5th Season in 2012.

  22. Lizzie May August 16, 2011 at 10:55 am -

    I think Mimi Butler should be congratulated, she has steered this show and should be given credit for its great production values and casting. Hopefully this season she’s kept a closer eye on those frequently dodgy stories.

  23. Ryaneco August 16, 2011 at 10:30 am -

    To those bitching about the show, yes the ratings are bad but the quality is outstanding. It’s a long shot but I hope rush magically improves this season, though if it is the last it has been an outstanding run of episodes.
    Can’t wait for it to come back, the only good cop drama on the box.

  24. Ginny August 16, 2011 at 10:24 am -

    I love Rush! The break has been soooooooooo long

  25. Nik C August 16, 2011 at 10:02 am -

    I am glad it will be back soon, have been patiently waiting! Great production and cast!

  26. Aviva August 16, 2011 at 10:02 am -

    I can’t wait! Been waiting for Rush to return and so sad it’s less episodes, with the chance of not returning… Can only hope, it’s an awesome show especially with the Melbourne backdrop.

  27. Russ August 16, 2011 at 10:01 am -

    Can’t wait for it’s return. I’ve been a massive fan since day 1.

  28. ducko August 16, 2011 at 9:54 am -

    It’s ironic that the worst performing show in its genre (besides Cops LAC) is the only one still standing. This ratings dud is surely in its last season.

  29. supercujo August 16, 2011 at 9:32 am -

    Flashpoint is currently the best cop show being made right now. If you like Rush, Flashpoint should be on your watch lists. Rush is not far behind though.

  30. Anthony Mai August 16, 2011 at 9:30 am -

    Rush was my number one show last year! brilliant drama! It’s sad that Camille Keenan isn’t returning as Audrey (I assume) since she’s now on Rafters.

  31. Deena August 16, 2011 at 9:26 am -

    Where have you been Rush???

  32. nrc_02 August 16, 2011 at 8:49 am -

    I can’t stand police dramas, but really enjoy this show.

  33. Donald August 16, 2011 at 8:12 am -

    This producer would have benefitted from stopping with the spin and taking a long hard look at the show and the figures.

  34. Craig August 16, 2011 at 7:59 am -

    I’ve been waiting for this all year!

  35. SFD August 16, 2011 at 5:20 am -

    Love Rush.

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