Outrageous Fortune prequel a witty and plot-twisty treat

Antonia Prebble as Rita West and David De Lautour as Ted West in Outrageous Fortune prequel Westside.
Matt Klitscher

Antonia Prebble as Rita West and David De Lautour as Ted West in Outrageous Fortune prequel Westside.

REVIEW: 

Sausage rolls and cheese and pineapple hedgehogs: these are the armaments of a long, dirty and hopelessly addictive crime war in TV3's witty and plot-twisty new local drama, Westside, Sunday.

If the channel can't restore is mojo after the John Campbell fiasco with this stunning Outrageous Fortune prequel and the night's new season of Dancing With the Stars, it may as well give up now.

Try to resist if you must, but this was a brilliant few hours' telly. After a jolly marathon of celebs being daggy in sequins, Westside  provided the perfect knowing, ironic icing on the cake.

We meet the young, 1974-vintage Ted West (David de Lautour), master safecracker – last seen as a shambling old menace in Outrageous - and his sexy, resourceful wife Rita (Antonia Prebble), plotting, fagging and conniving at supper parties in brick-and-wrought-iron West Auckland.

From the first scene, when an incredulous Ted is "welcomed" from three years' jail by the local iffy cop in a pastel safari suit –"No rhinos round here, Mike!" – it's clear writers Rachel Lang and James Griffin have conceived another classic. Part of their knack is to let the period do a lot of the work.

Incidentally but oh-so-tellingly deployed are the massive 70s saloon cars,  the vintage Alison Holst party food, the old plastic phones, the shaggy hair and moustaches, and the crowning glory, the  Commonwealth Games in Christchurch on the black-and-white telly, detaining the entire country as never before – or, probably, since.

It's this that sparks Ted's initial dismay about resuming his life of crime. His old gang's big new project is:"K-9s!".

"What, as in woof-woof?"

"Nah, colour telly! For the Games!"

And just like that, viewers Of A Certain Age are sucked back in time, to the days of the first, gut-clenchingly expensive and insipidly-hued colour TVs were the big new urban dream, and the sports bonanza made them a burglar's holy grail. 

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Ted, not unlike viewers of later generations watching this, is monstrously unimpressed.

He's ambitious for jobs demanding skill, imagination and ingenuity, and making money from TVs because people wanted to watch the likes of John Walker "running round in their underwear" in colour doesn't fit the bill. But Ted's  son Wolf is making a killing running a book on The Games at school, and by degrees, Ted rediscovers his metier.

Little does he dream that Rita and the other wives of his gang bros, have their own agenda. 'Nuff said for those yet to watch – except to warn: this is unmissibly brilliant.

The acting is note-perfect, right down to Ted's gurgly "stuff-you" laugh.  The only thing missing is Pam Corkery heaving into view from the preceeding DWTS  where she appeared perfectly garbed as a 70s disco dowager.

ONE TO WATCH

The Truth About Genius , BBC Knowledge, 8.30pm.

A documentary exploring the possible triggers for super-intelligence and exceptional intellectual achievement, which postulates genius might be more commonly accessible than most of us realise.

 - Stuff

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