Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wentworth: Episode 2 "Fly Me Away" - TVReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

Taking a look at the most eagerly-awaited re-imagining.

Re-introducing already established characters can be a very difficult and risky process, especially when these much-loved people are connected with one of the greatest cult television shows in Australia, and indeed the UK. Without going into further background information (see previous review "No Place Like Home") the second episode of Wentworth kicks off in style. However, while the debut episode focused on Bea Smith (played by Danielle Cormack) being brought in on remand, and spent the three quarters of an hour introducing the various men and women on both sides of the bars, the second visit to Wentworth gave us a beautiful tale of Doreen Anderson, portrayed so wonderfully by Shareena Clanton. There is also a staff re-shuffle as Prisoner Advocate Erica Davidson (Leeanna Walsman) sets her sights on greater things...

Having watched this episode with interest, I cannot help but take back some of my words in my first review: "I do wonder why Cormack was cast as Bea when she would have been so perfect as Karen Travers, jailed for the murder of her husband (as in the 1979 production); McQuade could have then been cast as Bea", as I now feel strongly that this reimagined look at Bea's incarceration is, in fact, in perfect and safe hands with Cormack in the role.

It is also exciting to see actor Robbie Magasiva tackling his part of Officer Will Jackson with such emotion as he resorts to blackmail in a bid to manipulate Doreen (Clanton). Of course, Will is not a bad man, but recent events have tipped him over the edge - he is a husband on a mission, his actions quite clearly inviting dangerous consequences.

Doreen Anderson (Shareena Clanton) and Bea Smith
(Danielle Cormack) - Wentworth

And so, second chapter in and Wentworth is delivering fine drama with equally fine casting and direction. Tensions between Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva) and Jacs Holt (Kris McQuade) are simmering after the riot, though we know it cannot be too long before something happens between them again. But for now it is Bea who finds herself a target as she is suspected of committing one of the worst crimes imaginable. This, and the blackmail, leads Doreen into making a heartbreaking decision regarding her daughter Kaiya (Tanika Fry is simply adorable, isn't she?), although we later discover something that makes the separation from a child even more painful - the revelation that... *Spoilers not available*

Still, writer Pete McTighe and director Kevin Carlin manage to deliver enough sentiment to a scene that will see Doreen pick up and cuddle a teddy bear (actress Colette Mann, who played the character of Doreen in the original Prisoner, would be proud!)

Having had an opportunity to first compare Wentworth to its predeccesor in my earlier review "No Place Like Home", and now able to accept Lara Radulovich and David Hannam's vision on its own merits, I am absolutely satisfied with current developments and direction - the series has yet to take a step wrong, and the casting is 100% perfection; strong characters played by strong and versatile actors.

For this review special mention should be given to Georgia Flood as Debbie Smith, who not only got to see her father almost die but now has to experience the emotions of her mother Bea behind bars. Who would have thought that a scene between two characters, one at each end of a phone, would be calling for tears of relief and joy? This is the true heart of Wentworth, those tender and touching moments.

And so the third episode is around the corner, and there are many playing cards on the table. Just how will Erica (Walsman) adjust to new responsibilities? And can Will (Magasiva) ever come to terms with his own predicament? Not to mention the feud between Franky (Nicole da Silva) and Jacs (McQuade); we know that if she continues to get caught up in the middle of their power games, Bea must learn to fight back, as she has already demonstrated she is quite capable of doing during her initial confrontation with Jacs in the first episode.