Let’s hear it for the girls.
Offspring scores one for the ladies, and in a landscape that has dominated by males telling our stories that’s not an altogether bad thing. This drama propels its female characters to the fore with a romantic, light tone in a series written by a female (Debra Oswald), directed by a female (Kate Dennis) and co-produced by yet another (Imogen Banks).
As a result it aims its barrel at the female audience too. This is what is commonly known as “a chick flick.”
While Seven has found success with the nuclear family that is Packed to the Rafters, now TEN again looks beyond the crime / police genre with this Melbourne-based series (that’s three on air from the southern city for TEN).
It retains a medical backdrop of sorts, but unlike traditional medico-dramas, it doesn’t drive the story engine. This is a relationship drama centering around an adult family, the Proudmans. They are more abrasive than the clan Rafter, more competitive and more neurotic. They also prefer an inner city lifestyle than the security of the suburbs. All of these are welcome traits.
Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) is our central character, an obstetrician who is accomplished in her city hospital role, but an absolute klutz when it comes to romance. She’s buggered up her last relationship, and her jealous ex-husband is still hanging around creating havoc in the Pilot telemovie.
Nina is prone to daydreaming, wishful thinking, fantasy escapes and visualising a better future -and preferably a calmer one than that which kickstarts the series. Trying to dissolve herself of her ex is proving a lost cause while she is distracted by the arrival of paediatrician Chris (Don Hany), a single father with his own complications.
Kat Stewart plays Billie, Nina’s wilder sister, who works in real estate. She has a thing for labourer and talented muso Mick (Eddie Perfect). Other principal roles include her womanising father Darcy (John Waters), separated from her mother Geraldine (Linda Cropper), plus brother Jimmy (Richard Davies) and friend and nurse Cherie (Deborah Mailman).
This ensemble is certainly a talented bunch. Hany slips into the reluctant object of affection with ease -doomed to become a hearthrob for many female viewers in ways that East West 101 could never have achieved (or desired). Eddie Perfect has a role that ‘perfectly’ displays his acting and musical prowess (he wrote the songs he performs). As always Deborah Mailman simply lights up the screen.
With its bright hues, this telemovie embraces a playful tone. We see the visions of Nina’s imagination. Words are scribbled across the screen. Moments are played in rewind. Together with a voice-over -yes another TV voice-over- they add a kind of Ally McBeal flavour to the storytelling.
Everything will depend on an audience buying into Asher Keddie’s character, and whether her scattered outlook on life is a point of recognition for some or too unhinged from reality for others.
Without any big inciting incidents in the telemovie, there will no doubt be many who want to sample more of the Proudmans before deciding whether they are a troupe they wish to spend more time with.
Co-produced by prolific producer John Edwards, Offspring is a warm, rather girly, play for your heart. And there’s nothing so wrong with that.
Offspring premieres 8:30pm Sunday on TEN.