Quality local dramas on SBS have underlined the importance of the role of public broadcasters. Watching East West 101, The Circuit or RAN: Remote Area Nurse is like switching on an arthouse channel. East West 101 was even made by the same producers who ambitiously made The Strip, a stark difference between creative independence via a public broadcaster versus the demands of a controlling commercial network.
Carla Cametti P.D., stars Diana Glenn (Satisfaction, Canal Road) as a private detective in an Italian clan from inner Melbourne. Her family is entrenched in crime, with her uncle Tony (Robert Mammone) complicit in an illegal underworld club. It’s here that Cametti is following a lead for a client: a woman is looking for a man who supposedly scammed her.
Along the way Cametti stumbles onto a murdered body being investigated by Detective Luke Gandolfi (Vince Colosimo). While it’s clearly a plot point that will lead to a bigger arc across the six part series, it’s the attraction between the two leads that is of greater significance here. These two should be gettin’ it on by about episode two, I reckon.
After the big impression made by Underbelly, this series features a female voice, with a slightly more romanticized look at the edges of criminal Melbourne. The hook is clearly in the sympathetic title character, who is compromised by trying to carve out a successful, non-traditional career amid old-fashioned values. Her restaurant-owning father wishes she would become an opera singer. Even Gandolfi asks “when are you going to start having babies?”
Glamorously shot, Carla Cametti PD draws upon European Melbourne with lots of warm colours, dark rooms, and mood lighting. Rather than being action-driven it prefers us to walk a mile in Cametti’s high heels, stopping for a little pasta and red wine along the way. How successfully it will sustain this across its 6 eps isn’t quite clear.
Led by the wonderful Glenn, episode one was confident but risked becoming over-produced by stylish production values with a particularly overwhelming soundtrack.
So far, this is an encouraging starter which at such a dead-zone time of year stands out on a pretty barren landscape.
Carla Cametti PD premieres 8:30pm Thursday January 8 on SBS.