I caught up with the two hour season premier of Underbelly 3 with Tuesday’s “encore screening”. I’ve never really been a fan of the show and the season 3 opener reinforces all the things I dislike. Somewhere there’s an enthralling drama but so many lazy devices and contrivances are deployed that they simply drown out the story. I find this instructive as a writer as there are clear, recurring choices that, for me, seriously detract from the potential drama. Underbelly 3 literally threw the kitchen sink at the audience in this regard. Let’s have a look at them:
1) The expository voice-over narrative is so totally over-the-top and redundant as a device that it immediately takes me out of the story. The old adage “show don’t tell” seems lost on the Underbelly writers. A barrage of information and on-the-nose observations that have always made me question how confident the writers are with the material. Even worse, the voiceover is from a character who, as far as I understand it, was only relevant to Series One. Even then it was a strange choice for a secondary character to be commenting on events, even more bizarre in the later series.