Why Bloom would never be made for Free to Air TV

Stan's new drama takes all kinds of risks say stars Ryan Corr & Phoebe Tonkin.

Ryan Corr and Phoebe Tonkin are a little bit torn over what genre best describes Bloom.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore, which I really like about it. It’s risky material and I think it comes across well,” says Corr.

“I think of it as grounded supernatural,” Tonkin suggests.

“Fairytale, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, comedy!” adds Corr.

Eventually both settle on mystery drama. But they are agreed Stan’s new 6 part series is unlikely to have ever been produced on Free to Air television. When all 6 episodes drop on New Year’s Day viewers will discover why.

“It’s got a place on Streaming content. It’s not kitchen sink.”

“ABC has done some good stuff, like Glitch,” Corr continues, “but I don’t think anything pushes the boundaries like this. I don’t think a network would do this because it doesn’t exist to sell commercial spots. It’s more an exploration of an idea and a philosophical question. Stan was great letting their creatives fly. It’s got a place on Streaming content. It’s not kitchen sink.”

Indeed it is not (but it would be remiss not to note Stan is owned by Nine). Bloom opens with a catastrophic flood in a rural town but it leaves behind a mysterious plant with a berry that offers eternal youth. Or does it?

Tonkin plays Gwen the younger version of Jacki Weaver’s character, married to Ray (Bryan Brown). Due to the nature of the bold plot, Tonkin (The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Safe Harbour) shared no on-camera scenes with the veteran Weaver. But the two strived to replicate one another.

“I watched a lot of interviews of her when she was younger,” she explains.

“She came to set had lunch with me and watched my body language”

“There were a couple of days where we crossed over, and a press day together. The first day she landed she came to set had lunch with me and watched my body language, listened to the way I talk, which is very flattering. But the nature of Television is that it’s very fast. It would have been nice to have a week of rehearsal with everyone but we weren’t afforded that luxury.

“But you don’t really need to emulate them because when we meet Gwen she has Alzheimer’s.”

Corr (Holding the Man, Hoges, Love Child, Packed to the Rafters) plays Sam, a sexually-charged young man full of exuberance whose opening scenes required him to run through the streets of Clunes wearing nothing but a modesty sock.

“It sort of makes you look like a Ken Doll,” he laughs. “It involves your meat and 2 veg in a bag which is tied at the top and tape between your bottom. And then running.

“Playmaker have made me run naked in everything I’ve done with them!

“The moments of lightness are needed to break the tension, particularly with Sam. Or at least that’s how it starts off. There are some genuinely funny moments.”

But Bloom by writer Glen Dolman explores much deeper and darker themes.

“There is something a little off-kilter and dangerous about her.”

“Without giving too much away, you see these characters are compelled by a great regret they have had in their lives,” Tonkin continues.

“Ray thinks he is bringing Gwen back as her younger self, but it starts to become like Dr. Frankenstein, that she is not exactly what he thought he was bringing back. There is something a little off-kilter and dangerous about her. So it makes him wonder was it the right thing to do?”

“It throws up philosophical questions which I think is one of the strengths of the show. It gets you talking about ideas: what parts of a person returning remains, what version is left?” Corr asks.

“It’s all pretty high stakes, and we are dealing in an area that isn’t well-trodden. So we were learning about the effects of the berry and how it manifests as we were shooting.

“It was like a jigsaw puzzle put together.”

Bloom screens from Tuesday January 1 on Stan.

6 Responses

  1. Having finished watching Bloom I will say it is one of the better shows released this year and it could definitely be shown on either the ABC or the SBS. Like any Australian production you do need to put your preconceived notions of what you think it’s all about aside and just enjoy the ride as this show is a noir fairy tale for adults, but does have some topical social commentary messages about the plight of the aging and infirm included.

  2. I think mickche’s comment is pretty insightful – the dominance of news and early evening ratings is at such variance with other countries. Prime time in the USA is also much later than here.
    The other big UK versus Aus distinction is the absolute dominance in Britain of their soap operas – usually six episodes a week with news broadcasts comparatively low rating.
    I have never really understood why Australian viewers hate drama so much – perhaps it is too many advertisements breaking up the narratives but scripted shows rarely work.

      1. Agree David.
        Reality/News do hardly anything in catch-up. Its the Dramas that dominate.
        If you take Bodyguard for example, the finale got 10.4 m overnight. 28 days consolidated had it at 17.1 m, an enormous increase.

        CyrusPK, I do always find it funny that Qi plays in UK at Monday 10 pm (used to be Friday same time) with XL 10 pm on Sat.

  3. It is interesting that whilst more people are binging television, Australian television keeps losing viewers.
    Channel 7, 9 and 10 have stopped being adventurous in their programming and have shoved more reality tv which audiences keep continuing to ignore (and gain very little in catch-up).

    Of the free-to-airs, only the ABC has taken risks in developing high concept shows to engage the viewer and which can also be sold around the world. Although, they have produced a few too many family-dramas (Seven Types of Ambiguity, etc.)
    SBS has limited budget, but still screens top-quality series from around the world.

    I follow UK tv alot, so it is interesting to see the different dynamics in play in both situations.
    In the UK, Saturday night is biggest night of the year; lowest in Australia.
    TV can peak around 9 to 10 pm. In Oz, its usually the 6 pm news.

    I think Pheobe Tonkin is…

    1. With the rise of pay to view streaming commercial TV is understandably concerned about its financial bottom line so in recent years has further developed shows in the so called reality TV genre to provide options for more advertising sponsorship and product placement, the increase of advertising content is unavoidable on FTA TV so in most cases it probably isn’t noticed by the viewer especially with the types of home grown long running shows commonly seen nowadays. With scripted drama programs the story sequences can become highly disrupted by advert breaks which is very irritating, so unless the show is exceptional the ratings will eventually suffer, commercial FTA TV has made its bed and will now have to lay in it.

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