Sunday, December 08, 2013

Redfern Now and House of Cards

The first series of Redfern Now was very good. The second series has been unbelievably good.  I could not fault it until the this week's episode where the husband of the gambler was unconvincing. It  may have been that he wasn't a good actor, his lines in the script were not great, or he was poorly directed. Whatever, it has been gripping and at times grim television, but always with a little hope at the end.

It is a tv show about Aborigines who live fairly normal sorts of inner suburban lives. It could have been made with Anglos in the roles at, but the stories would have lost something.

Where did they dig out all these brilliant Aboriginal actors from? There is clearly some serious talent there and they should be cast in more mainstream roles, not just in a separate tv show about Aborigines. Truly, the acting in the show was brilliant, as were the plots.

Perhaps the US will buy the rights and recast it with black Americans.

I never really got the English show The Office. It just seemed like reality tv to me. That is how offices work. I have not seen the US remake and I doubt I would be very entertained by it.

Broadchurch was a quite brilliant UK tv show. I have read that the US is remaking the show for US domestic audiences. Why would the US do that? It was already brilliant. Why would it need to be remade?

It reminds me of the recent hit US tv show, House of Cards. It was originally a brilliant English tv show that had me entranced for its duration. Why would it be remade for a US audience and how could it be better?

A classic line from the show. You don't really see it in this clip, Frances Urquhart was truly scary in the show.



I am really not sure how the American version could be better than the British version and so popular while the original is ignored. I don't understand why it needed to be remade.

I just came across this clip. It is television at its finest.

26 comments:

  1. Redfern Now has been a brilliant series; technically and dramatically.

    I agree that most 'Americanisations' of foreign series fail to match the originals and probably says more about the insularity of the general American audience that they do not appreciate, or resist, the foreign product.

    I have seen the remake of House of Cards and it is one remake that is really high quality. It is different in substance to the original English version and has been updated into the contemporary political environment. Both versions are superb for their time.

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    1. Victor, I really struggle with anything American on tv. It usually goes so fast and often the dialogue is incomprehensible to me. However, I may well watch the US version of HofC in the future.

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  2. What impresses me most about Redfern Now is that it does, as you say, portray Aboriginals as perfectly normal everyday people. And yes, it would be good if more Aboriginals were cast in mainstream roles where their Aboriginality is not even relevant.

    I also agree that the gambling episode fell a little flat, but I would put that down to the story line. The husband was quite convincing in the first series when their son had a chance to go to a very swish school and get a decent education.

    Americans often destroy good shows when they buy rights or stories from outside and Americanise them. They turned the movie Shame into an absolute stinker. No excuse.

    Archie Bunker could never hold a candle to Alf Garnett, because the cultural differences were too great to ignore: The English class system was at the heart of much of Alf's rigid thinking: a lot of the comedic tension relied on the irony that so many people so far down the ladder could be so loyal to an empire that betrayed them. Archie seemed to simply represent more mildly bigoted thinking that was not based on class divide. Archie did not need to believe his ideas half so desperately as Alf did.

    The stories in Redfern Now might work in the US precisely because there is something universal in the stories, but many of the Aboriginal references would be a bit lost [let me not spoil things by giving examples].
    As for the gambling problem, how many Americans would have poker machines in pubs and clubs every 200 metres along a busy road [esp in poorer areas]? I'm not sure there is such a thing as a single black culture in the States - is what I see mostly stereotyping? Humbugging, or even playing cards for money as a community activity with no thought of "Milo Week" looming are two things I would see as something uniquely [though not universally] Aboriginal.

    I've been given House of Cards as a DVD set, but it's waiting amongst a pile of others we are working our way through one night at a time. Looks interesting!

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    1. As usual FC, there is much in your response to ponder.

      I assume you mean you have the US version of H of C. Did you see the original?

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    2. Had to look - it's the BBC Version. Have never seen it.

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  3. I've never understood why the yanks like to remake perfectly good shows. Most of them end up doing poorly too, even if they were brilliant in their original country. Apparently David Tennant is going to be in the US remake of Broadchurch, which seems bizarre. Why remake??

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    1. Fen, so, an English, sorry Scottish, actor, playing an American in US remake of of an English tv show. That really is globalisation.

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  4. Agreed ... It was always so. Till Death us do Part was very clever in the 1960s, but by the time it crossed the Atlantic and became All in the Family, it was neither clever nor funny.

    These days The British Office has been the highlight of my tv life. The USA Office is not.

    I don't mind if American audiences don't understand British programmes and want their own culturally appropriate show. But make new shows! Don't ruin our beloved shows!

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    1. Hels, I liked both, but of course Alf was best. His passionate anger could not be matched.

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  5. I really enjoyed the first season of Redfern Now. Haven't watched any of the second yet - maybe tonight...

    Broadchurch was also very good and definitely doesn't need a remake. I don't understand why great shows have to be 'Americanised'. Surely not all Americans believe the world is the same all over.

    Did you ever see The Killing? Absolutely brilliant Danish mini-series. That was also remade, apparently because Americans don't like to watch shows not in English!

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    1. Wombat, indeed why do shows have to be remade for the US? We watch tv from all over the world, including physically abusive shows from Japan, we hear all sorts of accents, predominately American and British and we cope.

      I've heard of The Killing. There is Scandinavian political thriller called Bergen that is attracting attention at the moment.

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  6. I am conflicted about "Redfern Now." You are right that most of the stories could have been done with non-"Redfern" (ie, non-indigenous) characters and I think that was part of the point - just as a point in much of the first series was the gap and also the link between non-Redfern and Redfern indigenous people. Possible exception (though not absolutely) was the butcher's family on the side - obviously race played a part in which family was the official family and which not, though bigamy or quasi bigamy is not entirely confined to race divides.

    As I watched the series (and I persisted) I increasingly felt that if the stories were not "Redfern," then the melodrama (together with post-"Wildside" atmospheric music) would have been laughed off the screen.

    There were plenty of other improbabilities along the way as well. Just to take the first "gay" episode, loudmouth Mundine's reaction shows that a more likely tilt would be to have the indigenous partner dead and his family unaccepting. And as for the dog on the front porch story, I've ridden round plenty of inner-suburban streets at night and never seen one - and wasn't it convenient that the whitey yuppie was the actual dog-poisoner? Ernie Dingo's police-tracker nightmares were just icing (too much) on the cake: what on earth did they have to do with the main story?

    And pretty much everybody's house was much too nice inside, even allowing for the "luxuries" afforded by social housing.

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    1. Marcellous, I don't know what the interior of a house lived in by Aborigines would look like, but surely not so different to what I know?

      I am extremely ignorant of matters of our native population. I've had minimal contact with any and my experiences haven't been good.

      I have learnt to be a less critical tv viewer, much to the relief of those who I may watch tv with.

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    2. I didn't know Mundine mouthed off about the gay episode, but it would not surprise me: No group wants to own its gays. [Well, not unless … oops, I must not offend with stereotypes].
      Not unlikely, then, that the dead gay guy's mum [noni hazelhurst] insisted she had no problem with colour, just that her granddaughter was living with gays.
      [PS – it's always the partner's fault that the bigot's child is gay.]


      With the Dogs of War episode [Ernie Dingo, the dog across the road, and the yuppie] I got the impression Ernie had fought in Vietnam and that as his health deteriorated he had increasingly frequent flashbacks.
      As with other episodes, this provided an opportunity to look at a topic from different points of view, showing Aboriginals are individual people rather than one amorphous blob with a single worldview.
      At some point in the episode Ernie took issue with a bloke wearing an Aboriginal flag beanie who was humbugging - asking his "brother" if he had any spare "shrapnel". Ernie then gave him a serve about the Aboriginal flag, saying he wouldn't want it on his coffin.

      His character seemed consistently drawn: he felt no obligation to get along with or help the Aboriginal neighbour just because of race. [That the dog owner was an Anger Management Counsellor might have been a sly dig at race politics and funding. This bloke could pick a fight in an empty house].

      Ernie was blamed for the poisoning, so it was reasonable for him to try and work out who was responsible. His character was colour blind in that he took people as he found them on a case by case and issue by issue basis. As we should.

      Ernie's daughter lived in a dump - like inner city slums in many other cities, Redfern has been gentrified. [Can't say I understand how any ungentrified dumps are left for low income tenants, though. Haven't most low income Aboriginals moved from Redfern to Mt Gravatt or somewhere?]

      Mr Anger Management and the white yuppie were both total knobs. Score -1 for each race. I can live with that.

      As for the curious decision to leave a dog on the porch at night time – Did I mention that Mr Anger Management was a total knob? He didn't want the dog in the house, he just wanted a deterrent for burglars. No good putting it in the back yard.

      The sad thing is that our Vietnam Vet was experiencing hell at nights and the neighbours did not give a toss – no sense of community at all.

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    3. FC, your recollection of the series is excellent. I can only conclude you found it thought provoking, at least. I can't imagine what it must be like to have seen the worst sides of war and nor can I understand the lasting impact that some never recover from.

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  7. As to interiors of houses, nothing to do with Aborigines but everything to do with inner-city and especially rental housing stock (though it is true some of the characters were home owners).

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    1. I know what you mean about public rental housing stock in the inner city. There are the stereotypes, but not all. My partner visits many.

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    2. Actually I was thinking (in terms of my own experience) of private rental accommodation, which can often be worse, especially if the property is a bit old.

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  8. House of Cards is one of my all time fave shows - so I couldn't imagine watching a US remake until I read some of the comments above. And if the US doesn't like shows not in 'English', then how will they cope with David Tennant in the Broadchurch remake?!?!?!?!

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    1. Red, Tennant is clearly good at accents. His is Scottish and he can switch to English perfectly. But I can't even imagine his looks would appeal to a US audience.

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  9. I LOVE House of Cards and I actually didn't know it was re-made from a British show. Now I want to watch the original!

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    1. Keith, you are an open minded and worldly person. You will enjoy the British one.

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  10. I can't understand either why Americans have to try and emulate British series, they just don't get it right. I'm not a fan of American humour although have recently become slightly addicted to back episodes of The Big Bang Theory :) I defy anyone not to fall instantly in love with David Tennant he is gorgeous!

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    1. Grace, I think DT might be too hairy for my taste. I can watch US tv and have a laugh, but it lacks something for me. I loved US tv of 60s and even 70s.

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  11. I'm certainly not a fan of other countries remaking their own version of tv series - isn't that how one culture learns about/from another?
    But the House of cards remake is really good, we watched it then the reruns of the original UK series on pay tv and the US version compliments the original.
    Another series to look out for, before it is remade, is the French series The Returned; not a zombie series it's about people returning from the dead as if they had never died (no brain eating gore) - but the sensitive photography, the script, the delicate directing, it all makes for a brilliant series.

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    1. Jayne, Americans don't seem to like learning from other cultures. Much negative can be said about Australia but I think we are ok in that area.
      The French certainly make some very good movies, including my favourite, Diva.

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