TV Review: City Homicide

28 August 2007

Last night saw the debut of City Homicide, a heavily promoted new Channel 7 crime drama. According to an early review it’s a

story of urban crime and its detection … told from the multiple perspectives of the victims and the law, whose modus operandi here consists of old-school detective work; interviews with suspects, footwork, intuition and bravery (without a single lab-coat or high-tech computer read-out in sight).

I’m a sucker for some cops and robbers (or killers), so I didn’t have to think too hard about what I was going to watch last night. Alas, that meant a night of frustration.

For a police procedural, it wasn’t very big on procedure. At one point, Duncan is forced to draw his gun because he believes a suspect might be armed, but after the cuffs are snapped on there’s no attempt to search him. That’s a potentially fatal mistake. Later, that suspect offers to swap an important key for a rum and a smoke. It’s not clear why he’s still got the key on him in the interview room, or why the cops don’t just take it off him — he’s in custody, and should already have emptied his pockets. I guess the homicide squad doesn’t bother with pesky things like searching suspected murderers.

In fact, there’s nothing in City Homicide that gives you confidence in the detectives’ ability. Most of the legwork has already been done for them by a demented rogue officer from the police media unit. Jennifer is shown staring at a name on her computer screen for a full ten seconds before she realises that’s the name she’s been looking for — she must be a very slow reader. When Duncan notices a foul smell and blood leaking through the ceiling, he stands directly underneath it and prods it with a broom until the corpse bursts down on top of him.

The characters are not particularly inspired, and it’s difficult to tell whether it’s the script or the acting that’s at fault. There are some embarrassingly corny one-liners, and some painfully obvious characterisation devices: we know Sparkes is a bad cop from the old school because he’s first shown kicking the photocopier and swearing about “technology”. Daniel Macpherson’s inability to keep his smirk under control was ludicrous on The Bill, and it’s even more cartoonish on a supposedly “gritty” show. Even the better talent, like Aaron Pederson, comes over very flat. It’s hard to tell the detectives apart, except that the good guy can speak Italian and occasionally talks to his female colleagues.

With a bit of luck, these are just teething problems and City Homicide will improve as it gets into the swing of things. I’ll give it a few more episodes before I decide whether to find something more constructive to do with my time on Monday nights.

If you missed City Homicide last night, you can catch a repeat this weekend:
Friday 31st August, 11:30pm (Melbourne & Perth)
Saturday 1st September, 10:30pm (Adelaide)
Saturday 1st September, 10:45pm (Sydney & Brisbane)