City Homicide

Now in its fourth season, Seven's crime procedural has its work cut out to give it a point of difference and attract us with more than just a weekly Whodunnit.

Four seasons on, I get the feeling City Homicide has painted itself into a corner.

Its title defines its premise: the metropolis, murder, post-mortem detective work. If we are staring down the barrel of another season of whodunnits, the show will have its work cut out to give it a point of difference, particularly as there are several other players on the landscape since 2007, which enjoy a broader crime agenda.

This is not to say the Seven drama is lacking. The first and second seasons pulled huge numbers for the network, but by season three fatigue was beginning to set in, which denied some viewers the chance to watch some sparkling performances by cast members including Noni Hazlehurst as a bereaved Det. Superintendent Bernice Waverley.

Indeed many of the cast members regularly turn in formidable performances: Shane Bourne, Nadine Garner, David Field, plus supporting cast members such as Genevieve Morris (the show’s resident coroner, better known for her comedic Bank commercials).

In the first episode this season the drama tackles violence against international students, a topic which has been in the headlines, especially in the city of its location: Melbourne.

These State Police are a lot more designer than those on TEN’s edgy rival Rush, also populating the same backdrop.

Supporting roles in the first episode include Damien Bodie, Nicholas Brown and Phillip Hayden. Guest stars are frequently an appealing aspect of this show. As the “A” Plot of the week there is a violent group, with links to white supremacists, terrorising students. The brutal opening scene, a hallmark of the series, results in the first murder.

But it is the “B” Plot in which our central characters are tested. DSC Simon Joyner (Daniel MacPherson) is under investigation from Ethical Standards Department, headed up by Susan Blake (Georgie Parker). Joyner is accused of pushing an unarmed man off a balcony. With MacPherson leaving the series this isn’t likely to end well…

Wading through the facts of the “A” plot is a perfunctory exercise. Indeed, there’s not much room for subtext, let alone use of silence, in commercial procedurals. While film affords us a lot more room to breathe, television keeps up the pace with facts, figures, photos, and turning points, often to its own detriment. A little more faith in the skills of some fine actors wouldn’t go astray.

Added to this is the Scooby Doo nature of the storytelling that dominates the genre, a challenge not just distinctive to City Homicide.

This episode is written by creators John Hugginson and John Banas, whose capacity to turn out script after script is exemplary.

But there’s an awful lot of Aussie drama around the corner.

For viewers to be suckered into another season of “who-killed-who?” City Homicide will need to lean on its ensemble characters -which it has ably proven it can do before.

City Homicide returns soon to Seven.

19 Responses

  1. Can not stand CH. The scripts are ghastly and the mixture of good and poor actors grates like skin over gravel. I’m no fan of Bones or Criminal Minds but atleast they know how to deliver what their respective audiences want. CH is a terrible stew of yelling and ‘ripped from the headlines’ stories strung together with the most obnoxious editing on tv.

  2. This is one of the most boring shows on Australian television – how Seven can be proud of this I am not sure. What is with the brown filtered lense they use?? It is supposed to make the show look grungy, I think, but all it does is make the show look cheaper than it is. Loose the brown lense, in fact Seven, get rid of this show all together and invest your money elsewhere in Australian drama.

  3. I am no expert, but as mentioned throughout the comments so far- I think the demise in City Homicides ratings are attributed to erratic scheduling, Sundays to Monday then to Wednesday and in late 2008 when a number of repeats from the 1st season were mixed in with new episodes. Gone of the days where an Aussie series screens religiously on the same night (exception for packed to the Rafters) and leaves repeats to only the non ratings period.

  4. Daniel MacPherson shot his final episodes in August/September last year. By the time the series returns these episodes have been sitting in the can for almost a year. That’s no way to treat the loyal fans of this show IMO. I really don’t understand why Seven have held back this series and stockpiled so many episodes. If the audience does not respond positively to the changes they’ll still have 20-30 eps waiting to play out. I don’t get much about Seven programming this year.

  5. I’d like to know, how is this different to say Criminal Minds or Bones? Well Bones has a romantic arc, not sure about City Homicide, but isn’t it just another crime procedural? Opens with person(s) being murdered, 45 minutes worth of evidence and interrogations later, they solve the mystery, as if solving murders is that easy.

  6. Love this series and Nadine Garner is just awesome along with Noni Hazelhurst. The whole cast just has this feel about it. Last season was down on the one before it but it was still very well written, so much better than that show called Underbelly.

    I have been surprised that this hasnt picked up any awards considering what happened with Noni’s character in the season before last.

    Georgie Parker also a good addition. I wonder how long she will stay though as i think she is only a guest role. The ads look very good and i cant wait for this series to return. After last nights below 1m for Rescue Special Ops which i dont rate at all, i recon Seven pitch it against it on Monday and keep Criminal Minds for Wednesdays. It did its best there and then Seven did the shifteroo with it.

  7. I too enjoyed Seasons 1 and 2 and swiched off after Ch7 decided to show repeats since they had won the ratings. Hope it contiunes to do well, I find I do prefer the better character development of ‘boring’ in my view action packed police dramas like Rush and Rescue Special Ops.

  8. Been looking forward to the return of City Homicide, however I hope the writers have come up with better plots than the last series !!

    Love David Fields along with newbie cops Nadia Townsend & John Adams.

    Can’t stand Rescue Special Ops much prefer Rush.

  9. Love City Homicide, and Rush two of the best Aussie shows on at the moment. And yes Daniel Macpherson is the weak link in the show so it should get better without him. I just hope they put it on a decent day and leave it there instead of screwing it aroudn like last year where they changed days and then put it on two times a week.

    And word on what days City Homicide and Rush will be on???

  10. Well I like old fashioned so I like City Homicide and prefer it to “edgy” dramas like Rush which bores me. Agree about Dan M though he’s an ordinary actor. David Fields and Noni are clearly the best actors but Shane goes ok although he’s a bit wooden too.

  11. If you watch John Edwards dramas like – Rush, Love My Way, Tangle etc it’s impossible to go back to these old fashioned shows. Whenever I accidentally drop in via the remote control all I see is a bunch of people yelling at each other for no apparent reason, the implausibly young Daniel McPherson solving the crime (in an attempt to get the younger audience!) and the talented Nadine Garner sitting there with a po face and nothing to do (in training to be the next Noni?). It’s the Seven formula that has worked for so long for John Holmes – Mum and Dad, wrangling the naughty children. It’s time to move on. That said, it will easily account for RSO which is now mortally wounded after last night’s woeful figures.

  12. I think this show has fallen into the trap of being too procedural with very little character development. Nadia Townsend has been a great addition, but overall the characters are too one dimensional. Losing Dan Macpherson is probably a blessing in disguise, his character is very wooden as earlier pointed out.

    All the timeslot changes have hurt the show as well: Mon-Sun-Mon-Wed. A little consistency wouldn’t hurt Seven…

  13. I have no problem with the style of City Homicide. In many ways I find it more appealing than Sea Patrol that is incredibly formulaic and you can guess the whole plotline for the night 5 minutes into the episode. Likewise some of the edgier series such as Rush and Rescue Special Ops concentrate a bit too much on the personal relationships of the improbably good looking and young members of the cast.

  14. A good show, which can only improve with MacPherson leaving. His acting is so wooden you can get splinters from watching. David Field is the best actor on the show, so hopefully he’ll stick around this series.

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