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On the box

14 Aug 2014

On the box Image

By Korey Fernando

Presently in the entertainment industry, the reboot is largely commonplace.However ‘Wentworth’ is one program that didn’t need a dark and gritty reimagining, as ‘Prisoner’, the show that it was born from, was very progressively dealing with the same issues back in the late ‘70s.

I wasn’t really sure what to think when I sat down to watch Wentworth. As someone who was born after the original program had already been taken off screens, I watched it fully aware that it was a “reimagining” but largely ignorant to any references to the original. For those of you in the same boat, I’d encourage you to stay ignorant to the previous show (if possible) before attempting this one due to potential spoilers.

Wentworth is a great show with a fantastic cast. As with many local productions, you can usually play a game of – “hey it’s that guy from that show I used to watch” and there are many standout performances in the cast.

One of the things I really appreciate about Wentworth is that, in changing the title of the program for the reboot, the focus itself doesn’t land solely on the inmates but explores the lives of the prison guards and administration as well.

The characters and overarching storyline also stop to deliver occasional fan service to the original, but these are dealt with very subtly. The sets have all been purpose-built in Melbourne and are all of a really high production value, which only serves to present Wentworth as both a believable setting and more of a fleshed-out world for the characters to live in.

I think it’s important to draw comparisons with another contemporary about a women’s prison, Orange is the new Black. I must say, of the two, I actually preferred Wentworth. There’s something a little more endearing to me about the themes of the show, paired with the fact that it’s a straight drama and not comedy set in a women’s prison.

While both are obviously sensationalised for entertainment purposes, and both feature some fairly uncomplicated character archetypes, yet Wentworth resonated a little more with me. I did also find the characters to be much more complex in Wentworth and the absence of humour made it feel like a deeper experience.

My biggest gripe with Wentworth is that it isn’t on free-to-air television. The-free-to-air landscape could definitely benefit from a show of Wentworth’s calibre and there is definitely room for a drama that takes itself seriously – the last thing we need is another dewy-eyed relationship melodrama about a bunch of well-to-do’s and their social entanglements.

Wentworth can be seen on Foxtel’s Soho network and is definitely worth a look.

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