Australian television drama has suffered cardiovascular failure over the last few years, but Channel Seven’s latest offering, City Homicide, is giving the genre a touch of CPR.
The series, now booked in for 22 episodes in 2008 thanks to consistently strong ratings, has a lot going for it: a cast brimming with solid Australian talent, a tight script, relevant social issues and a resistance to overplaying its characters.
Central to the action is actor Nadine Garner, who plays one of only two central female roles, Detective Senior Constable Jennifer Mapplethorpe, a new member of the Homicide Squad almost totally dominated by men.
“I like the notion of playing a strong female police officer in a man’s world and how she might be dealing with those issues,” she said.
Garner plays Mapplethorpe as a serious cop who keeps her cards close to her chest. There are no theatrics or hysterics here, rather a stoic, focused woman determined to win respect from her colleagues and superiors.
“I think she takes her work very personally,” Garner said. “She doesn’t have much of a home life. The job is pretty much everything for her at this stage.”
Audiences know little about Mapplethorpe, but Garner says there’s more to come.
“There’s no point giving an audience the whole box and dice in the first three episodes, it would be boring. The whole point is to uncover these characters very, very slowly like an onion,” she said.
Despite some hint of flirtation between Mapplethorpe and her colleague Matt Ryan (played by Damien Richardson), Garner says there’s no love on the horizon – even though she did accidentally bare her naked bottom to him.
“We looked at going there and decided it was too predictable and too early,” Garner said.
“She takes her profession seriously – she’s not going to just jump into bed with one of the detectives because it’s easy.”
With a cast that includes industry heavyweights such as Noni Hazlehurst, Shane Bourne, Daniel MacPherson, Vince Colosimo and David Field, the show is bursting with street cred.
“They’ve balanced commercialism – i.e. having faces that people know but also that can absolutely fulfil the role – and pull it off with believability and conviction,” Garner said.
Garner, who began her career as a 14-year old on The Henderson Kids, has a swag of Australian TV shows under her belt, including Neighbours, Stingers, A Country Practice, Water Rats and The Secret Life of Us. This role is a welcome return to the small screen after several years of film and theatre.
“This is the right job at the right time for me,” she explained. “It has sparked something and we know we are in something that has a little bit of magic.”
From bnews – www.bnews.net.au.

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