TEN’s cop series has now departed our screens but I thought I would take a moment to acknowledge the series’ attributes.
Since 2008 it has starred Rodger Corser, Callan Mulvey, Catherine McClements, Nicole da Silva, Sam Johnson, Ashley Zukerman, Jolene Anderson, Kevin Hofbauer, Antony Starr, Josef Ber and Claire van der Boom.
It was originally conceived in 2004 as Rapid Response, borne of Police Rescue, with Mathew Le Nevez, Libby Tanner and Corrine Grant. After the US writer’s strike everyone went back to the drawing board under producers John Edwards and Mimi Butler and Rush emerged.
Unlike the suited cowboys of City Homicide, the Rush squad resembled a SWAT team, armed with high tech communications, including mobile cameras, which added to the show’s contemporary feel. It was chockful of hand-held camera work, overlapping dialogue and tense music. A sweeping chopper over Melbourne in the first series got our attention.
These cops weren’t post-mortem “whodunnit” suits. They were in the moment, forced to make decisions with consequences.
One of the things that struck me about the show was its spontaneity. I think it was the first episode where a teenager was threatening to suicide from a skyscraper. When they fell and died it was clear this show wasn’t about to give us happy endings. Killing off Claire van der Boom’s character was also a surprise.
These cops were also flawed. Catherine McClements abusing the police when she was pulled over for a breath test, was far removed from the complicit Blue Heelers.
Stella’s sexuality was always fluid. Boys. Girls. Whatever.
Sam Johnson’s character had shades of 24, seemingly able to tap into any camera anywhere. It wasn’t especially believable but it advanced the plot visually.
There were also plenty of character actors in guest and supporting roles, most of whom were left to be crims in Melbourne’s inner west and Docklands regions. Elspeth Ballantyne on an island was one out of the box. Another episode on a speeding train took us away from the norm. I love how the show always used actual street names.
The show won an AFI Award as Best Drama twice, last year beating out Spirited and Tangle (both Edwards’ productions) and The Circuit.
But I believe its legacy will be in bringing TEN back to the Drama table. After years of failures including The Cooks and CrashBurn, it was able to carve out a primetime drama audience beyond Neighbours. That’s now resonating through Offspring and there are more on the way in 2012.