There were several excellent Australian TV productions that graced our screens in 2018 – from the asylum seeker drama Safe Harbour to new iterations of Mystery Road, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Jack Irish.
This year’s lineup looks eclectic, mixing big hitters with smaller budget passion projects. As usual the majority of interesting-sounding titles come from public broadcasters, though the commercial networks are also bringing something to the table.
Here are 10 Australian TV shows to look out for in 2019.
Director Glendyn Ivin’s BBC/ABC TV co-production attracted more than six million viewers when it debuted in the UK last year. Ivin helmed the finest Australian TV series of 2018 – SBS’s intensely gripping asylum seeker morality tale Safe Harbour – and returns with another not-to-be-missed drama. Ethically complex and structurally innovative, The Cry’s twist-laden narrative revolves around a married couple (Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie) whose baby boy has disappeared. All four episodes are currently available to stream on ABCiview.
Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries
This year will be a big one for fans of the glamorous murder-investigating sleuth Miss Fisher, as long as they’re open to a change in formula. Essie Davis will take her beloved character to the big screen in the franchise’s first movie, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears. Meanwhile on Channel Seven, Geraldine Hakewill will play Fisher’s niece in a spin-off series set in the 1960s. When asked whether being a detective runs in the family, the new Fisher responds in a very ‘Stayan way: “I’m more than happy to give it a whirl!”
Glitch season three
The producers of Glitch didn’t want the show to be described as one about “zombies,” preferring biblical parlance such “resurrection drama” – which says a lot about its lofty aspirations. A well-executed first season established goodwill that was squandered in the second, when it became clear very few of the key mysteries would be meaningfully addressed, let alone solved. The third season gives the writers another (perhaps final) opportunity to – god forbid – reach dramatic conclusions.
Australia in Colour
The recent Peter Jackson documentary They Shall Not Grow Old applied innovative technology to grainy World War I footage, turning timeworn monochrome images into vivid and colourful compositions. SBS’s Hugo Weaving-narrated four-part series will similarly colourise monochrome archival footage, reaching back into various moments in Australian history from 1900 onwards.
Between Two Worlds
Not much is known about Channel Seven’s “high concept contemporary drama series,” and the network’s official description sound like poppycock. Exhibit A: the show’s pledge to explore “two disparate and disconnected worlds, thrown together by death and sacrifice in one and the chance for new life in the other.” What is known is that the series comes from creator/writer Bevan Lee, whose body of work includes Packed to the Rafters, All Saints and A Place to Call Home.
Black B*tch (Working title)
Want to see national treasure Deborah Mailman in a rare leading role? Of course you do. How about Rachel Griffiths playing the Prime Minister? Well, why not. In this six-part ABC drama Mailman will play a “charismatic and contradictory Indigenous woman” who is “thrust into the national limelight after a horrific event.” Griffiths plays an embattled Australian PM (is there another kind?) who parachutes the protagonist into the Senate, hoping to capitalise on her fame. But the new pollie is determined to do the unthinkable and (gasp!) actually make a difference.
Director Sophie Hyde, whose oeuvre includes the gender-transitioning drama 52 Tuesdays and the sassy ABC comedy Fucking Adelaide, will helm this four part narrative series examining how various lives are affected by a nude photo sharing scandal. The Hunting centres around four teenagers and their friends and family, using a cast of actors and non-actors. Directors also include Ana Kokkinos and Sophie Hyde.
There’s no word yet on whether the new season of SeaChange, revived by Channel Nine, will feature the return of David Wenham’s character Diver Dan. But it will feature Sigrid Thornton as Laura Gibson, capturing her character’s return to the community of Pearl Bay. The show’s co-creator Deb Cox will write the new series, which bodes well in terms of continuity with the original production, which ran from 1998 to 2000.
Now here’s an intriguing idea: a video series shot in a vertical format, intended to be viewed on mobile phones. This ambitious ABC production will follow a millennial and wannabe influencer, whose story is told – like the recent ‘screen time’ films Searching and Unfriended – through representations of her digital experiences such as Google searches, app interactions and private messages.
Christians Like Us
Sex scandals! Divorce! Abortion! These are three of the issues that, according to the official synopsis for the SBS documentary series Christians Like Us, are factors in why Christianity in Australia “is in crisis.” Following on from Muslims Like Us, this perhaps inevitably controversial series will ponder the identity, beliefs and practises of modern day Christians.