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“Underbelly” (2009) CBS Action and YouTube

underbellyUnderbelly is a total gem of a TV drama series, currently being re run on CBS drama, but you can also see it on YouTube.

The producers have resisted the temptation to veer down the analytical, existential, character motivation type approach and just tell us what happened with next to no back-story. An absolute winning gambit as the actual events are so shocking and powerful that no commentary is necessary.

Between 1995 and 2004 Melbourne was rocked by a vicious drug related turf war between the Carlton Crew led by Lewis Moran (disconcertingly played by Kevin Harrington of Neighbours fame) and his erstwhile protégé Carl Williams who broke away from his mentor resulting in a catastrophic series of murders. 

As in Limerick where gang warfare has claimed the lives of 11 people in the last few years, the rest of the State of Victoria’s population was un moved until the violence impinged on general society when de facto Carlton Crew leader Jason Moran was gunned down at a children’s Aussie Rules game in 2003 on the order of Williams.

The police investigation came under the microscope, the pressures were immense and it was little surprise when the Chief of Operation Purana Garry Butterworth expired at his desk from heart failure.

We are party to the brutal daily interactions between the underworld characters where money is seemingly the only guarantee of loyalty, and the grind involved in the police operation to trap those involved.

The integrity and bravery of the officers involved is quite something to behold in these days of cynicism it is refreshing to see coppers doing above and beyond the call of duty because it is the right thing to do. Period.

The limitations of the cast, Gyton Grantly as Williams and Rodger Corser as the go getting young cop turned senior investigator aside, are overcome with a pumping soundtrack over scenes which are imaginatively shot using slo mo and other pop video style devices, giving a captivating pace to the show meaning that dialogue is kept to the minimum to direct the narrative.

There are wider questions to answer about how and why people turn to crime, and for me the most shocking aspect was how the protagonists managed to seperate and compartmentalise the various parts of their lives, one minute killing cols blood, the next playing with their kids.




About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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