Dead Lucky, the latest 4 part drama from SBS, casts a very wide net on inner Sydney, linking clusters of multiculturalism impacted by a crime at a Sydney convenience store.
At the centre of the story is Detective Grace Gibbs (Rachel Griffiths), an abrasive detective and single mother who is undergoing anger management counselling against her will.
She is also reeling from an unsolved incident which saw her younger partner (Lincoln Younes) killed during a robbery. The way it played out still casts a shadow over her. Her boss (Rhys Muldoon) now partners her with Chinese-Australian Charlie (Yoson An) who blames Grace for the death of their colleague.
Meanwhile convenience store owners Erica & Tony (Justine Clarke, Simon Burke), who bicker over their migrant staff, are targeted again by local robbers. They want young Iranian staffer Mani (Mojean Aria) to use a gun next time it happens, but this Australian reaction feels extreme to him.
There are various other support characters including Grace’s ex-husband (Matt Nable) & new partner (Annie Maynard), policewoman & widow (Anna Samson), and the international student community (Xana Tang, Aldo Mignone).
Writers Ellie Beaumont & Drew Proffitt (House Husbands) embark on an issues-based drama through the lens of a procedural crime. Rather than focus on a specific cultural group, Dead Lucky ambitiously seeks to ricochet its crime through several.
Yet there are also touches of the personal, via the domestic life of Grace and a top-heavy support cast. The exchanges between key characters draws upon subtext although the plot directed by David Caesar is somewhat uneven.
Griffiths is ever-reliable as the story lead and I would have welcomed narrowing the focus even more to her as a roadmap through this large set-up. Newcomer Yoson An is a welcome addition to this diverse cast, with presumably more scenes to come after his pairing with Grace.
Justine Clarke’s mutton-dressed-as-lamb, racist would be hilarious if it weren’t so close to the bone, proving to be a challenge for Simon Burke’s long-suffering husband. Brooke Satchwell & Ian Meadows will also appear.
There are also some policing moves that feel unlikely, but perhaps they speak to manoeuvring against police routine as an expression of character.
It’s also hard to know whether the 9:30 time slot from SBS is an attempt to find an audience in a less competitive slot, or the broadcaster decided it doesn’t cut the traditional 8:30 slot.
Dead Lucky‘s heart is in the right place, hoping to take a snapshot of modern Australia and the way crime ripples throughout. Under recent criticisms, it’s as on-Charter as you can get. While elements of the execution are pointed, the jury is out on whether the sum of the parts will ultimately make for a gripping whole.
Dead Lucky airs 9:30pm Wednesday on SBS.