It may only be February but The End will be one of the best local dramas you’ll see this year.
You can thank the exquisite relationship between Dame Harriet Walter and Noni Hazlehurst for plenty of that success. Their friendship as two seniors lifts off the screen and ignites a captivating tale from insightful writer Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy, The Wrong Girl).
“It says ‘Do not resuscitate!'” Edie tells British paramedics after a botched suicide attempt, but having survived a fall from her first floor window, she is whisked away by family to Queensland.
Daughter Dr. Kate Brennan (Frances O’Connor) and children Persephone (Ingrid Torelli) and Oberon Brennan (Morgan Davies) welcome Edie to a Gold Coast retirement village which frankly, horrifies the poor woman.
“You went with tacky….” she quips -just a touch of her blunt personality that underpins the dark humour.
Emerald Fields village is pure GC, with manicured lawns, lagoons, Tai Chi, aqua aerobics, motorised scooters and Dawn (Robyn Nevin) aka “Queen Bee of the pearl necklace sets.” Edie is also neighbour to the worrying Art (Roy Billing), still mourning the loss of his wife years after her passing.
Thankfully she connects with wild child Pamela (Noni Hazlehurst) whose memories of the 60s & 70s still colour her sunset years.
“I had the best tits in Melbourne. Or South Yarra anyway,” she recalls.
Meanwhile Dr. Kate is tested at work by ailing patient Beth (Brooke Satchwell) and boyfriend Josh (Luke Arnold) for an assisted suicide -something that contravenes all her ethics.
There’s also a poignant subplot involving teen trans son Oberon who is fighting for acceptance. This leads to a sensitive performance from Morgan Davies.
As the series progresses, Edie’s desire to end her life is challenged by a renewed zest for life. Pamela helps Edie to discard her inhibitions in performances that are both brave and delightful. In the hands of lesser performers this would be a good show -they elevate it to so much more.
Writer Sam Strauss also swings her pen-dulum from joy to pain, allowing her cast to show real depth. Walter, Hazlehurst and Davies are stand-outs here, showcased by beautiful direction from Jessica M. Thompson and Jonathan Brough.
But there’s also a stellar support cast including John Waters, Alex Dimitriades, Brendan Cowell and surprising cameos from the likes of Val Lehman, Hazel Phillips, Ian McFadyen, Tony Barry and more (what no Lorrae Desmond?).
These are half hour episodes which Foxtel is screening as doubles. But be warned, you’re at risk of both laughing and crying, an elusive emotional double in TV.
The End is really rather special.
The End airs 8:30pm Tuesday on FOX Showcase.