Cleverman

(MA) Frances O’Connor, Hunter Page-Lochard, Iain Glen

Welcome to one of the most unique and ambitious TV shows created in Australia.

Boasting a sizeable budget and some bigger names (Frances O’Connor, Game of Thrones’ Iain Glen), pacy, violent and sturdy Cleverman almost defies easy summary. Set in an alternate version of modern Sydney, this six-part series has society being dangerously divided along racial lines — “white” Australians, First Peoples, and a “sub-human” group called “Hairies”.

Dramatic sci-fi Cleverman compels interest yet is often unclear about which sub-plot it is following — there are so many, your attention can be divided and diminished. However, the key player is young indigenous bloke Koen (watchable Hunter Page-Lochard).

 

As Koen resists the responsibility of being the newest version of an ancient “superhero”, he and others intersect amid a vast range of topics. Everything from terrorism to genetic modification, border protection to cultural pride and corporate greed gets a look in.

As Cleverman has a fair crack at matching the US, UK or Scandinavian productions which dominate our small screens, its loose backdrop is Indigenous spirituality. Some Dreamtime forces fall under the microscope of scientific tests, as if to reflect a common issue people have with life’s supernatural and soulful aspects. Such aspects are undeniable — yet so many demand scientific proof.

Ben McEachen

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