Dead Lucky: Episode 1 #SeriesManiaMelb

Dead Lucky

One of the shows screened at ACMI as part of Series Mania was the premiere of SBS’ Dead Lucky, which premieres tonight at 9:30 on SBS and SBS OnDemand. A moderated Q&A with writers Ellie Beauchamp and Drew Proffitt was held immediately following the screening, and I’ll be posting a write-up of that session after the first episode has aired. For now, here’s a short review.

A man has been committing armed robberies across Sydney. He disappeared to Queensland for a while, and Dead Lucky begins just as he resurfaces, holding a young international student at gunpoint. We learn everything about him through a combination of clever exposition (more on that later) and flashbacks, especially how he’s become a person of interest to the police. Rather than a mystery, Dead Lucky is a crime thriller that explores the impact that one crime has had on multiple lives. Detective Grace Gibbs (Rachel Griffiths) has been chasing Baxter for a long time. To say that Baxter is known to the police is an understatement. To say any more would be giving away parts of the rich story that Ellie Beauchamp and Drew Proffitt have written in this four-part miniseries.

In a landscape that’s dominated by reality television (which we all know I watch), Dead Lucky is a smart drama that reflects Australia’s multiculturalism and doesn’t talk down to its audience. Rachel Griffiths is the lead of the show, but Gibbs’ partner Charlie Fung is played by Chinese-born New Zealand Actor Yoson An, who isn’t afraid to challenge her. Furthermore, Dead Lucky also focuses on the lives of international students. Mani (Mojean Aria) is an Iranian international student who is working at the convenience store during the robbery, and the only witness. He’s also being paid less than minimum wage, but can’t bring that up with the authorities because he’s working more hours than he’s legally allowed on his student visa. His girlfriend is a Chinese international student who wants to study music but is doing a commerce degree to appease her parents. Baxter’s crime impacts all these people, and more I haven’t mentioned.

There’s a lot of information revealed in the first episode that I won’t retell here, but it’s delivered in ways that don’t interrupt the flow of the narrative. We learn bits and pieces of the NSW Police’s history with Baxter through conversations between characters, which we put together ourselves before a flashback provides the full picture. We’re dropped into the middle of the story, but the writers give us enough information that we know what’s going on, and deliver it in a manner that doesn’t talk down to the audience.

Aside from Rachel Griffiths’ first scene, which makes me question the portrayal of therapy in television (it’s almost always a waste of the character’s time, but that’s not how people I know who have had therapy view it), Dead Lucky is a fantastic drama that’s worth checking out. After seeing the first episode, I’m interested to see where it goes, and the good news is that there are only three more episodes.

Dead Lucky premieres on SBS tonight July 25 at 9:30 pm on SBS.

Other thoughts:

  • Now that I’ve thought about it a little more, I don’t really need the stuff about Grace’s personal life and her ex-husband’s new partner. Maybe my opinion will change once I see the rest of the series, I don’t know.
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