I’m not really a subscriber to the theory that dramatisations of criminals is necessarily “glorifying” them.
Drama is about context, and while a network may package such characters in sexy promos, in my experience these types always get their come-uppance in the miniseries or telemovie when viewed in full.
TEN’s Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms benefits from perfect timing. Stories of motorcycle gangs are back in the news in Sydney, including referencing both the Comancheros and Bandidos clubs. In 1984 both infamously went to war on Father’s Day at the Viking Tavern in Milperra. Seven people lost their lives, including one child, with many more injured.
Now it has been turned into a six-part miniseries, produced by Screentime (Underbelly, Cloudstreet, Crownies, Tricky Business) for TEN.
Leading the Comancheros is Jock Ross (Matt Nable), a self-appointed chief recruiting bikers to his club. Ross wants to make the Comancheros the best club in Australia.
Newly recruited is Snoddy (Callan Mulvey), who is new in town and grateful to fit in. It’s deceptively alluring: riding hot bikes, hanging out with sexy girls, lazing on the beach and plenty of beer. He even gets a swift education on how to secure a suped-up bike without ever having to pay for it.
The Comancheros also stick together. “If you insult someone, we defend ourselves,” he learns. “It’s all about your mates.”
Much of the first episode, penned by Greg Haddrick, focusses on Snoddy’s induction into the club.The script is based on a book of the same name by Sandra Harvey and Lindsay Simpson.
Foggy (Richard Cawthorne) isn’t so welcoming -unlike the groupie girlfriends, letting it all hang out. Yes in the early 80s the women were quite happy to get about topless (the blokes only respond with bare buttocks).
Susie Porter as Jock’s squeeze Vanessa, is one of three key female roles. She doesn’t get to do much in episode one.
Director Peter Andrikidis (Underbelly, East West 101, The Informant) brings some of his Underbelly DNA to this project. There are slow-mo scenes, montages and a fair whack of female breasts. Some scenes drag, reiterating what has already been well-established.
Nable is strong as the Comancheros leader, while Mulvey (sporting one of several dodgy wigs in the drama) is used to delivering aloof performances. But his viewpoint provides an accessible way into this story, given he will have a pivotal role in the fatal war.
Other roles will be played by Anthony Hayes, Todd Lasance, Luke Ford, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Damian Walshe-Howling, Nathaniel Dean, Aaaron Fa’aoso and Luke Hemsworth. Mark Lizotte will provide music an Production Designer Tim Ferrier has done a good job in recreating the era.
Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms is in cruise-mode for some of its first instalment. This feels like it will hit the money when the fight takes place at the Viking Tavern. Looking forward to those scenes.
Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms premieres 8:30pm Tuesday on TEN and is preceded by Bikie Wars: Here & Now at 8pm.