In Australia: Mondays, 8.30pm AEST, Foxtel Showcase)
In the UK: Not yet acquired
As I mentioned in my recent birthday round-up of lessons learnt over the past year, Australian TV is on the rise at the moment. There are lots of reasons for this. There’s the arrival of BBC First, resulting in the native channels having to create more of their own content rather than buy it from the BBC. Keeping a keener eye on selling to foreign markets means that co-production money can elevate or even gets shows off the ground where once they would have languished or not get made – Cleverman, for example, has benefited a lot from SundanceTV US’s budget contributions. There are also government and state funding bodies, with the likes of Screen Australia and Screen New South Wales giving TV companies cash and/or help in exchange for jobs-boosting filming (cf The Doctor Blake Mysteries) – which helps a lot.
All of this comes together in some way or other with The Kettering Incident, a production from Foxtel Showcase (think of it as Australia’s Sky Atlantic, UK readers) made in association with BBC Worldwide and Screen Tasmania. It’s also got its eyes firmly on what appears to sell well to the overseas market – beautifully shot, moody locations (Top of the Lake) and ‘Australian Gothic’ (Glitch).
Elizabeth Debicki, who of course was faux American in The Night Manager, is here a faux Brit – well, an Australian who used to live in the town of Kettering in Tasmania until she was a teenager. Then, while she and her friend were out in the forbidden woods one night, they see some lights, hear some noises and suddenly it’s eight hours later, Debicki is all alone and covered in blood and her friend has gone missing.
Fast-forward 15 years and she’s now a haematologist living in London. Problem is, she’s starting to have black-outs, during which she does weird things. She wakes up in the bins at the side of the street, covered in bruises. She wanders into her hospital and starts tap dancing. Then worst of all, she wakes up back in Kettering, having unknowingly bought a plane ticket and flown over there.
Before you know it, she’s having more time gaps, other people are disappearing having seen the lights, huge moths are gathering for no good reason, and she’s having visions. All while she gets angrily stared at by all the people who think she killed her friend.
Is there some secret military base, aliens, fairies or something weirder out in the forest? Or is Debicki psychotic like her mum and killing people when she blanks out?
The first two episodes are a tad on the slow side, something that’s not helped by the fact Debicki’s character is shit to everyone she meets or just spaced out the whole time. Most of it is Debicki milling around, meeting people, having a vision (usually of a moth) then passing out, only to discover something terrible/awkward has happened while she was out. There’s also not much by way of investigation of the central mystery, which given this first season is eight episodes and the showrunners are angling for additional seasons, makes me worry it’ll be about another five weeks before anyone does anything except pass out/complain about all the logging going on/have secret meetings to discuss Debicki.
But it does look very pretty and a bit eery, thanks to all the Tasmanian filming, the time losses are disconcerting (more so than in The Anomaly, thankfully) and there’s a good chance there might be a decent mystery behind it all, so I’ll probably stick with it for another couple of weeks at least. I’m not going to recommend it just yet, but I’ll keep my eye on it for you for now.