The Killing Field By David Knox on May 2, 2014 Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 9.31.26 pm.jpgWho doesn’t love a good whodunit? Television is full of them whether as event dramas, weekly crimes or telemovies. The latest offering is The Killing Field, a Seven-produced telemovie featuring network sweetheart Rebecca Gibney (also acting as a Producer). Neatly folding Julie Rafter away like a warm woolly jumper, she returns as the rather clinical and cool Detective Sergeant Eve Winter. She is lured by Detective Inspector Lachlan McKenzie (Peter O’Brien) back to a city-based Detective squad for a major case in the bush. Joined by Detective Senior Constable Bridget Anderson (Chloé Boreham) and Detective Senior Constable Dan Wild (Liam McIntyre) they are confronted by the graves of five dead bodies in the fictional town of Mingara. While it suggests a serial killer has been hiding amongst the sleepy community, the more immediate threat concerns the disappearance of a teenage girl, Becky (Taylor Ferguson). In their designer suits, this rather mod squad become fly-in, fly-out crime-busters (a nod to Criminal Minds perhaps?) openly discussing the case while strolling down main street. The local force, in over their heads, are left to mind the crime scene and can’t even seem to do that sufficiently. We meet the family of the missing girl, and various townsfolk most of whom we would consider key suspects. The stock standard white board with photos is there to help. Eve serves as our guide into this world, gleaning pieces of information and raising suspicions about what’s been laying beneath the surface, literally, of Mingara. She also suppresses an emotional backstory with McKenzie and there’s a little of the good cop / bad cop going on between them, thankfully not too heavily. Anderson and Wild have loosely-sketched backstories that will presumably develop should the drama proceed to series. Supporting cast members include Damien Garvey, Darren Gilshenan, Anita Hegh and Dave Eastgate. As a thriller you can expect red herrings, a little action and eleventh-hour jeopardy. But aside from the handsome backdrop of the fictional Mingara this telemovie predominantly feels like a weekly episodic crime. It lacks the vast themes that would justify a telemovie format, and the depth of character required. Gibney has the cropped haircut and underplays the warmth with which she has become associated, but lacks the aggressive, seniority of a Helen Mirren Prime Suspect. Some policing moments feel amplified for drama rather than authenticity and we learn next to nothing of the other 5 victims or their families, who presumably live in the same town. The dialogue, too, slips into spelling out the obvious or signposting backstories. “Mate this is a murder investigation, you have to tell us everything you know,” Wild barks at one point. “Small town, small minds, redneck right-wing f***wits … this is why I left the country,” says Anderson at another point. Indeed it’s roughly what I would expect if Seven were to parachute the City Homicide team into Mount Thomas, which is not to say this is not without a future, but perhaps one that gets to the point a little quicker at 42 minutes than 90. Whether Eve Winter is enough for viewers to not long for Julie Rafter, or indeed Jane Halifax, to return is a mystery only the ratings will solve.
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