New dram 800 Words doesn't ring true

Erik Thomson, from 800 Words.
Jason Dorday

Erik Thomson, from 800 Words.

TUNNEL VISION: The old journalist in me warmed to George Turner becoming editor.

In 800 Words (TV One, Wednesdays), George was appointed editor of News Of the Weld and set out to sleuth a front page story. "If it bleeds, it leads", is good motivation for any journalist.

But George was told by Gloria, his assistant, that his job was limited to writing the editorial.

There was no room for speculation. So when a body was found in a crashed car, it was reported like an obituary notice. While everyone knew the dead woman was Treena, who'd gone missing years earlier, there was no room for "believed to be" in News Of the Weld.

As the main theme of the story it didn't ring true. And as the episode progressed, nothing quite made sense. There were smart people saying smart things, but the reality and motivation for their actions was still locked away in the writer's laptop.

800 Words is gently amusing, even charming, and Erik Thomson as George has created a plausible enough character, but there's not enough truth in the rest of them. But if 800 Words is our version of La La Land "in a galaxy far away", it's still light years ahead of The Real Housewives of Auckland and Filthy Rich.

I suspect 800 Words set out to be Doc Martin, but lost its nerve.

Sir Robert Muldoon once said that anyone who moved to Australia increased the IQ level of both countries. Widower George Turner has reversed it. I'll keep watching because the premise of him leaving Sydney and crossing the Tasman to start again in Weld is appealing. I hope he breaks the big story and finds blood.

Bull (TV One, Thursdays) is intriguing and irritating in equal measure. It's full of Bull – in this case Dr Jason Bull – and is meant to be based on the early days of Dr Phil McGraw, when he traded as a psychologist and expert jury consultant.

Now I like Dr Phil, so I was drawn to Dr Bull. He believes he can read jurors by how they look and what they say. He then recommends to the defence or prosecution teams who to include and who to reject. It's a bit like our cricketers having 15 seconds to challenge an umpire's ruling.

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However, Dr Bull and his team don't stop at the swearing in. They continue to analyse and evaluate right through to the closing addresses. When Bess, an influential juror, shows hostility to the leading defence lawyer, Dr Bull recommends another takes over.

There's a sense that Dr Bull (Michael Wetherley) is more important than the legal team. In the episode where Brandon Peters is accused of killing Alyssa Yang, Dr Bull tells him to acknowledge he's gay and was batting for the other team when the murder occurred.

Brandon admits he opened the order for the Rainbow XI and is acquitted before the defence can challenge the umpire's ruling.

I wonder if Dr Phil realised that justice sometimes wasn't being served and there were better things to do than manipulating a jury, like being a talk-show host.

Our Girl (TV One, Mondays) is saved by a rollicking good story. Sadly, the appealing Molly has been replaced by grim and gobby Michelle Keegan (Tina from Coro Sreet). It'll take more than one episode to warm to her but, in the meantime, the lively story takes us to a refugee camp in Kenya on the Somali border.

It's a six-week assignment for Georgie, the army medic, and, when she returns, she'll marry Dr Jamie, the new man in her life. But the refugee camp needs some of President Trump's security cast-offs and a medical doctor is easily kidnapped. Georgie treats a local boy's infected mouth but, when her ambulance is isolated, she too is whisked away by terrorists.

It's the ideal ending to an episode. Viewers will want to be around next Monday to know if Georgie survives. Probably the only thing that could save her is a dose of Coronation Street lip. The terrorists will beg for her forgiveness.

 - Stuff


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