Wentworth has just begun its sixth season on Foxtel and it is still as shocking as ever.
This is the ballsiest drama currently being made in Australia and the only one that can match American cable dramas when it comes to gore and explicitness. Last year, Juicy Lucy (Sally-Anne Upton) had her tongue ripped out by The Freak (Pamela Rabe) and that was possibly the most outrageous sequence ever filmed for Australian television. Lucy is back this season, sans tongue, leading to some hilarious new ways of communication, but The Freak is yet to be seen, having been buried alive in last season’s finale.
Having done away with Meg Jackson (Catherine McClements) in episode one, and then murdering the show’s central character Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) at the end of season four, The Freak may indeed be gone, but unless you see a blood-dripping final breath, and even when you do, nothing is what it seems in Wentworth. Is the next to go Franky Doyle (Nicole de Silva)? Or is it poisonous Sonia Stevens (Sigrid Thornton)?
New this year are two more iconic characters from Prisoner. There’s Rita Connors (Leah Purcell) still wearing a black leather jacket and still with a boyfriend (nice to see Shane Connor back at FremantleMedia after his Neighbours axing and court case). And Susie Porter looks like she is about to have a lot of fun playing Marie Winters, another wicked woman, the kind Wentworth specialises in. No other Aussie drama can have you thinking it is about to jump the shark before pulling it back for yet another twist.
Meanwhile, Home And Away had its first gay kiss in nine years and nobody cared. That was either because there was no tabloid outrage this time round, or because nobody cares about a new character called Ty (Darius Williams), who is only around for six weeks. If Wentworth is the most unpredictable Aussie drama on TV, Home And Away never tries anything new. Could its latest villain, Ebony (Cariba Heine) be any more obvious? Why are so many men in Summer Bay prone to yelling, violence and drug deals?
We are also now more than halfway into the landmark 30th year of the Seven soap and barring the re-appearance of Alf’s (Ray Meagher) long-lost blink-and-miss wife (Belinda Giblin), there is yet to be any major celebration of this milestone. Summer Bay is still rinse and repeat these days and if Seven wants people to start talking about Home And Away again, it is going to have to do better than more and more River Boys.
Top photo: Rarriwuy Hick and Leah Purcell in Wentworth