The bigger, better, faster Hammersley will be a great boon to this second series, principally because it allows more than three actors to appear in the bridge of the navy boat.
Having almost all the lead actors in the same screen space instantly allows for more stories and conflict than the predecessor ship allowed. Captain James T. Kirk never knew how lucky he was in Star Trek!
The new Hammersley is one of the subtle changes to Nine’s action drama. Another is the inclusion of Alan Dale in an ongoing subplot involving aid workers in the South Pacific.
Last season we had an ongoing romantic thread with Sibylla Budd (on-going plots actually help gain mini-series funding), this time the producers have wisely opted for a more contemporary, plot-driven device.
That said, there are still some clunky problems with the first episode of the new series. Characters still state the bleedingly obvious -a victim of adhering to Navy speak. The show is so closely seconded to the Australian Navy that heaven forbid if dramatic license overtakes realism (curiously City Homicide has no such problems given its cops are ‘State Police’ rather than ‘Victorian Police’).
The first episode encounters the early beginnings of a civil coup on a nearby island, illegal fisherman and a dog lost at sea. The latter gives rise to the line “we’ve got a $50m boat and we’re looking for a lost dog?” I couldn’t help but agree. Once more the show shies away from being hard-hitting and takes a middle ground of action, jeopardy with touches of romance and light relief. Doubtless the recipe is devised to win over the biggest possible audience. After all The Hallmark Channel is one of the show’s key partners….
Lisa McCune is once again excellent as both tough and vulnerable, Ian Stenlake is once again doing nothing other than barking orders, and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (pictured) is offered little in the first ep. He’s one of the show’s best actors, hopefully he will get more across the series.
Alan Dale (my god, out of a suit for once!) was actually pretty disappointing with what amounted to a cameo in the first ep. Again, no doubt his best is yet to come, too.
I’m assured that some of the eps that surface later are great stuff, which is something of a risk in today’s climate. McElroy All Media appears to have taken a “steady as she goes” approach to change rather than taking hold of the wheel and firmly jumping the shark with a tougher, grittier tone.
Sea Patrol continues to benefit from heroic plots, wide open spaces, terrific vistas and stirring music. No doubt if you enjoyed the first sea cruise, you’ll be happy to set sail once more.