TV News: Underbelly, Survivors, Pompeii

Underbelly: The Golden Mile
The third season premiere of crime drama “Underbelly”, Australia’s biggest TV series of recent years, kept up its track record of strong ratings with 2.23 million Aussie viewers nationally tuning in on Sunday night reports The Daily Telegraph.

For those unfamiliar with the show, each season of “Underbelly” is a dramatisation of real life gangster wars that took place in Sydney and Melbourne in recent decades. The first and most acclaimed season dealt with the Melbourne gangland wars from 1995 until 2004, the second with the drug trade in Sydney and Melbourne from 1976 until 1987.

‘Golden Mile’ covers the battle to control Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross red-light district from 1989 to 1999. Reviews have been more mixed, while accuracy has become much more of an issue in part due to legal complications and in other ways to simply spice up the action. John Ibrahim’s almost positive portrayal in the premiere has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

The Nine Network is already drawing up plans for two further seasons. One will likely be set from 2001 to 2010 and deal with Strike Force Tuno’s investigations into twelve deaths and their connection to former army commando and hitman Sean Waygood who was arrested in January this year. The other is looking to be about Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley and covers the events leading up to the Fitzgerald inquiry in 1987 which exposed Brisbane’s illegal casinos and brothels along with state corruption which played a part in the downfall of the Bjelke-Petersen state government.

Survivors reports that the BBC has decided not to commission a third series of its remake of the 1970s post-apocalyptic series “Survivors”.

A source close to the production says the network had “a real desire to go again but felt that with the ratings having slipped a little since the first series they couldn’t take the risk”. The show’s average fell from around 5.5 million viewers per episode in the first season to around 3.8 million per episode in the second.

Because the series went out on BBC1 rather than a lower-rated digital channel like BBC3 where other British genre shows such as “Torchwood” and “Being Human” reside, “Survivors” ratings were impressive compared to other shows of the like but not up to the network’s standard.

Roman Polanski’s aborted mega-budget “Pompeii” feature will now be re-imagined as a lavish miniseries for Sony Pictures TV, Scott Free and Tandem says The Hollywood Reporter.

Based on the novel by Robert Harris, much like Polanski’s recent film “The Ghost Writer”, the story follows aqueduct engineer Marcus Attilius, who finds himself in a race against time to keep the military and trade ports on the Naples Bay alive, unaware of the brewing eruption about to set Mount Vesuvius in flame.

Polanski himself won’t be involved in this mini-series version. Tandem and Scott Free previously teamed on the mini-series adaptation of Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” scheduled to air later this year. Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell and Matthew Macfadyen all star in that 12th century-set story of a cathedral’s construction against the backdrop of ‘The Anarchy’ after the death of Henry the First.