In a first for Australian streaming media companies, subscription video-on-demand service Stan has produced the first Australian-made content for local audiences, in the police procedural comedy TV series No Activity.
Taking a cue from the successful model of content creation of streaming media giant Netflix – which has produced original series like Bloodline, House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black – Stan is the first Australian SVOD to create locally-made original content.
Taking an irreverent stick to the familiar and now cliché-ridden genre, the folks behind the series have created a cops-and-crims comedy full of laughs, awkward banter and plenty of Aussie charm.
The scene is a familiar one: two police detectives on a stakeout, bored and engaging each another with awkward conversation and light-hearted barbs, discussing the minutiae of their job and its bearing on humanity and the impact they like to think they have on their world; they even find time to deconstruct the odd partnership or two, romantic or otherwise.
Repeat this formula with an accompanying two criminals waiting for a ‘delivery’ to come through, plus two other police officers at central dispatch as they wax lyrical about life and handle the odd call from the field, and you have simple laughs and likable characters aplenty.
Created by Patrick Brammall (The Moodys, Upper Middle Bogan and Glitch) and Trent O’Donnell (director of The Moodys, New Girl and Woodley), the series stars Brammall and Darren Gilshenan as our police detectives of mismatched chemistry, metaphorically trapped on what feels like a Groundhog Day stake out.
They kill the hours of boredom with mindless banter that morphs into ironically insightful observations about life and relationships, throwing in the occasional awkward anecdote as they go.
Our criminal anti-masterminds are played by Dan Wiley and David Field, reuniting on screen in roles similar to those they shared in the Andrew Dominik cult hit Chopper. A highlight of their conversation sees the two workshopping their ‘criminal’ facades, coaching each other in the same way a director would instruct an actor.
Australian comedy luminary Sam Simmons also steps in as a bald-headed crim; his character coming closer to an affable fridge repairman with a handgun than the formidable gangster he thinks he is.
The rest of the cast includes a host of well-known faces from Australian TV and cinema, including eminently watchable Genevieve Morris, the flawless Kat Stewart, the enviously skilled Harriet Dyer and charmingly Aussie Tim Minchin – who took a break from directing the DreamWorks Animation creation Larrikins to lend his comedy chops to the role of an eager dockyard security guard. American New Girl star Jake Johnson also makes an appearance.
The dialogue and humour runs the gamut from dry and sparkling, to rough and lowbrow. Judge them not for the latter, as the net needs to be cast wide to trawl the eyeballs required to obtain a payoff from the risky endeavour of producing new Australian television.
While it seems slow in tempo, the pace is actually swift, with characters dwelling briefly on any one sentiment before taking mental leaps to the next – pay attention, lest you miss the laughs.
No Activity is an exciting first crack at what will hopefully become a firm model for Australian entertainment; with enough laughs, pathos and surprises to see you binge-watching the entire first season.
The full season of No Activity is available from October 22 on Stan.