There can be no doubt that Australia is making some great TV at the moment. Whether it’s on Pay TV, free-to-air or streaming, we are being spoilt for choice.
The ABC has been at the forefront with productions like Glitch, The Beautiful Lie and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – all critically acclaimed and well received by viewers.
Janet King starring Marta Dusseldorp (Crownies, A Place to Call Home) can be added to the list of quality dramas produced by the ABC.
Season 2 comes two years after the original; itself a spin off of Crownies that aired on the ABC in 2011.
The story has picked up two years after the season one finale. Janet is no longer a Crown Prosecutor, but has been appointed to head up a Royal Commission into Firearms Crimes.
While investigating a spate of unsolved shootings across Sydney, she struggles with the unsolved murder of her partner Ash, while raising their two children.
It’s a character that draws heavily on Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennyson in the award winning Prime Suspect.
“I watched a lot of Prime Suspect when I first started with Crownies. I just loved how unsympathetic, how relentlessly unsympathetic she was.
And back in those days, Mirren was really cutting edge and she had a new knife and no one had really seen it before.
She really paved the way for characters like Janet King because she taught people that it was OK for women to have ‘pole position’ and be unlikeable. And yet..….”
Dusseldorp flexes her acting muscles in Janet King, catching the attention of critics with the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, who’ve hailed the show and her performance.
“I think they appreciate that she’s a strong, smart and sassy lady who’s not in ‘opposition’ to men. That she’s a strong lesbian woman, who isn’t defined by that, but is absolutely proud of having a family. I think they pick up on those nuances.
The fact that the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal picked up on Janet King was such a wonderful vindication that it would ‘speak’ to other cultures”.
It took two years for season two to get the green light and in the intervening years, Dusseldorp has played Sarah on A Place To Call Home. She’s welcomed a return to a ‘modern’ story.
“I enjoyed having the break from her and when I came back (to Janet King), things had changed in my life as well. There was a weird kind of parallel-ness to it all.
“I probably feel more like her than I did in ‘Crownies’. I feel that I’m now the right age and I was excited to take it on again.
I was certainly more endeared towards her. Her ability to show compassion was more at the forefront. Whereas in season one, it really took a lot for her to open up”.
Janet King is a quality drama, telling a complex and multi-layered story. Reminiscent of earlier ABC dramas Phoenix and Janus, it inevitably leads to speculation of a third series.
“Who knows? The ABC will never stop making great stories. I really just hope that people enjoy this ride. We need people to tune in and tell the ABC that they love it and want more. It comes down to that”.