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Wentworth (Prisoner Cell Block H reboot)


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Near the finale of season 2 now - and this has been absolutely brilliant. Contains the heart and soul of the original, but with better production values and none of the cheese. Last nights episode was fantastic - brutal and surprising. Credit to the cast, crew and writers.

As much I've enjoyed 'Orange' (and there's a few eerily similar story lines here) - it isn't a patch on Wentworth.

Highly recommended.

I don't remember much about the original 'Prisoner', but Wentworth is probably the best show I've ever seen on TV. At different stages, it's funny, gritty, sexy, gory, shocking and intense. 'The scene' last night was something I'd been expecting to be the start of series 2, but the writing was smarter than that - and then they throw in a massive curveball. Amazing TV.

How many episodes is each season? Was gonna give it a go at one point but never did. I loved the old one which i used to watch in the early-mid 90s.

There are 11 episodes in each season. The boxset is out in a couple of weeks.

edit: Sorry. S1 - 10 episodes, S2 - 12 episodes.

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I don't remember much about the original 'Prisoner', but Wentworth is probably the best show I've ever seen on TV. At different stages, it's funny, gritty, sexy, gory, shocking and intense. 'The scene' last night was something I'd been expecting to be the start of series 2, but the writing was smarter than that - and then they throw in a massive curveball. Amazing TV.

That 'scene' was brutal - so well choreographed - and ending was surpisingly shocking. The build up was great - real nerve shredding stuff. yeah - never expected the direction its taken.

Was that bint flirting with Fletcher all along just to seduce him to so Red could get his door pass? Also - has she escaped purely to help Liz - or to seek revenge on her daughters killer?

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That 'scene' was brutal - so well choreographed - and ending was surpisingly shocking. The build up was great - real nerve shredding stuff. yeah - never expected the direction its taken.

Was that bint flirting with Fletcher all along just to seduce him to so Red could get his door pass? Also - has she escaped purely to help Liz - or to seek revenge on her daughters killer?

Dunno about Jess. She came across very sweet and innocent in every episode until last night. Her withering put-down of Fletch when Bea handed the swipe-card back to him showed her in a different light. Maybe she's been as calculating as Bea or maybe Bea has pressured her into acting upon a genuine crush?

As for Bea, I didn't watch the clip at the end from next week, because I just want to watch everything unfold. I'm guessing she's going after Brayden, but who knows? Maybe she's doing something to repay Jess? Maybe she's going to her daughter's grave? It's bound to be good though :D

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I've just watched it again. When Franky admits Bea's won, then Bea rolls up her sleeves and starts cutting herself... :o :o :o :o

Yup. Really got to me that. Felt so raw and real.

Also - what's Ferguson up to with her secret meeting of the new inmate? Some history there - something for season 3?

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Yup. Really got to me that. Felt so raw and real.

Also - what's Ferguson up to with her secret meeting of the new inmate? Some history there - something for season 3?

Did you notice that woman's right eye? Could Ferguson be responsible for that?

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Good call monobrow on the eye business.

But yeah - brilliant finale. Loved the "oh shit!' moment, and the 'all change' ending. Laying down some great dynamics for season 3.

Oh, and...

"Freak!"

.

Her eye didn't look so bad last night. The week before it looked like it was a glass one :huh:

When Bea popped Brayden for smirking :hat:

When it looked like Flecth might get to clear things up with Will, but then gets hit by the van :hat:

When Liz explains why she has a steak knife in her drawer :lol:

That whole scene where Bea is brought back to the prison and Franky sees the following she has. The 'coronation' :hat:

I'm pumped for season 3

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Near the finale of season 2 now - and this has been absolutely brilliant. Contains the heart and soul of the original, but with better production values and none of the cheese. Last nights episode was fantastic - brutal and surprising. Credit to the cast, crew and writers.

As much I've enjoyed 'Orange' (and there's a few eerily similar story lines here) - it isn't a patch on Wentworth.

Highly recommended.

Just binged on the first three episodes of this after reading this thread. I'd heard about it before but assumed it was garbage based on ... well, it airing on Channel 5, mostly. I've seen bits of Prison Cell Block H and remember it being both groundbreaking and cheesy in equal measure.

The first episode showed a lot of promise. Most of the casting is spot on (Franky the clear standout, obviously). The set is great. It feels fairly high quality overall. But ... I dunno. The cheese is most definitely there. The second episode ends with a prisoner weeping into a teddy bear while melancholy music plays and the camera pans out. Third episode ends almost identically: weeping prisoner, melancholy music. It's not exactly Oz. There's a lot of really lazy, derivative imagery too (the tearing up of a family photograph comes to mind) and too much flashback exposition about events you've already pieced together (throwback to the original, I guess, but it's overdone). Script is passable in a Saturday night BBC drama kind of way. No lines really stand out. 'When you change your mind I'll be here for you.' 'She smiled at me and I felt like I had a second chance.' 'She's everything to me.' Ehhhhhh. There's nothing here linguistically that elevates it above the lines they exchange on Holby City or whatever. Deadwood this ain't.

And yet! There's something about it... The suggestions of violence are genuinely unnerving, even if they rarely come to anything very brutal (predictably I can only compare this, again, to Oz where guys bite each other's cocks off and spit them out mid-blowjob - nothing like that has happened here yet :)). The performances from Bea, Franky, Jax are great (did they switch the roles of Bea and Jax, by the way? I remember Bea being the old, intimidating, monstrous one manning the steam press, and I don't remember a Jax at all). The tensions and rivalries and shifting pecking orders between the prisoners are really compelling - I just wish they'd focus entirely on that and ditch the ridiculous, maudlin, Australian soap-esque family backstory rubbish. Perhaps they do?

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Reasonable points (although regarding the 'cheese' I was more referring to 80's PCBH's tendency to put silly music and sound effects over implausible 'comedic' situations). I do think the writing is significantly above a standard 'Holby City' episode - the intertwining plot threads and power plays are absolutely enthraulling - and have the ability to blindside you with their resolution.

Wait until you've put a couple of season's under your belt - gripping and jaw dropping in equal measures. The Freak come into the prison in season 2 - and it really does become essential viewing.

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What's with the complete non-existence of Erica Davidson in season 2? I went straight from the last episode of season 1 to the first episode of season 2 and had to double check I hadn't skipped an episode by mistake. The relationship between her and Franky was great. I was looking forward to seeing where it went, but ... she no longer exists? Very weird. Maybe the actress didn't want to reprise the role?

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Wow. I just watched the second last episode of season 2 and it was fucking incredible. Massive spoilers if you haven't seen it:

Where Bea and Franky have a fucking knife fight, Franky wins then cuts her own wrists (both my hands clawing at my gaping mouth by this point) and then escapes from fucking hospital - her plan all along! - presumably to hunt down Brayden. Man ... all those threads from the last bunch of episodes came together superbly.

I think the series as a whole still has corniness problems and the dialogue really is lazy sometimes ('Take a chill pill' - really?) but its highs make it worthwhile. Properly excited to watch the final episode of season 2 tonight.

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Wow. I just watched the second last episode of season 2 and it was fucking incredible. Massive spoilers if you haven't seen it:

Where Bea and Franky have a fucking knife fight, Franky wins then cuts her own wrists (both my hands clawing at my gaping mouth by this point) and then escapes from fucking hospital - her plan all along! - presumably to hunt down Brayden. Man ... all those threads from the last bunch of episodes came together superbly.

I think the series as a whole still has corniness problems and the dialogue really is lazy sometimes ('Take a chill pill' - really?) but its highs make it worthwhile. Properly excited to watch the final episode of season 2 tonight.

You're gonna fucking love the next episode

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Really? I thought season three was extremely disappointing. Huuuuuge post incoming with massive spoilers up to end of season three:

This last season turned the show into a total pantomime with Ferguson transforming from her perfectly cast role of hateful, malicious cunt who gets a kick out of making people feel like shit (I don't think there is another person in the world who could have played this part better - she was phenomenal) into this ridiculously psychotic, improbably deranged borderline-terminator, murdering people literally by lifting them up by the neck and throttling them, all because a girl she used to love committed suicide (or so she thought). The post credits scene of her was breathtakingly stupid. A padded cell? A straitjacket? Really? I don't think we put even the Charles Mansons of the world in straitjackets and padded cells. Another mindless TV cliche of which this show is so fond. It's all about the cheap thrills, the shocking twists. Junk food drama.

It peaked at the end of season two, a natural culmination of all the preceding events of Bea's arc: her feud with Jacs, her daughter's murder, her hunger for revenge on Brayden, the blood-thinning drugs she'd been taking for numerous episodes prior, her ongoing war with Franky and the knife fight - all of these threads finally culminated brilliantly in her escape. The equivalent dramatic conclusion of season three? A big fire, out of nowhere, for the sake of it, from which everyone escaped anyway. Other than cheap ad-break cliffhangers and an excuse for some pretty explosions, what was the point? Or the tedious conclusion of creepy Jess's baby obsession, ending with her (finally) kidnapping Doreen's baby, complete with creepy nursery rhyme music as she wandered down dark, shadowy corridors. Or Liz's miserable fucking daughter meeting the wife of the man she killed - presumably to give Liz's actress a reason for still being there. (The entire season was plagued with utterly dull soap-standard scenes with those two going: 'I'm your mum. I love you.' 'I hate you. You ruined my life.' 'But I'm your mum. I love you.' 'You ruined my life. I hate you. I never want to see you again.' 'But I'm your mum, love. I just want to look after you.' 'Don't touch me! I hate you. Don't talk to me ever again.' 'But I love you. I may be a sad excuse for a mid-'90s Brookside alcoholism storyline, but I'm still your mum, love.' WHO FUCKING CARES? I was skipping this unbearable shit by the end.) Or Will finally proving his innocence of a crime no one cared if he committed or not. Or Fletch split-second surviving, for the second time, death at the hands of the same man. Does anyone care about Fletch? Killing him off at the end of season two was one of the best ideas they had. Except, oh yeah, they didn't.

Even the best dramas rely on occasional coincidences and perfect timings from time to time, but Wentworth's entire plot survives on them. Phones always ring at the very moment characters need to find out important things ('The hitman's name is Nils Whatever. Oh, you've just been arrested and desperately need to know his name? Well, there you go! How fortuitous.') Major characters always wake up/dodge/are rescued just as they're about to be killed. It's the laziest way of creating and resolving tension, and it's far, far too neat. As a result, the show doesn't really feel like life in a women's prison. It feels like life on the set of a melodramatic Australian TV prison drama.

The programme's fundamental problem, I think, is that it thinks plot is king. It puts plot above character, setting, dialogue, atmosphere, when it should come last. It feels distinctly like the writers decide what they want to happen, what the plot twists will be, where events will lead, and then work out how to get there. What does each each character have to do and say in order for the plot to take the path we've decided on? Which elements must we introduce to make things work out in this particular way? We're going to have a big dramatic fire in the finale. Who will start it? Ferguson. Why? To destroy evidence. How will she start it? Let's have an electric fire. Oh, and we'd better put some gasoline in there for her to discover, by chance. Oh and some big flammable barrels, so we can explain those huge explosions we'd like to have. It's pretty laughable.

It's one of the most patronising things I've ever watched too. It constantly spells shit out that even the dumbest viewer has already figured out. From trivial things like the Red Right Hand woman (by the way: feminist terrorism? Are you joking?) turning up as a prisoner at Wentworth and passing Bea on her way in: as a viewer, you're thinking, 'Wow, Bea is fucked. This crazy bitch is gonna fuck her up.' But just in case you're too fucking stupid to understand this, they make the Red Right Hand woman drag a finger across her neck, universal TV cliche for 'you're dead'. Yeah, we already got that. They do stuff like that all the goddamn time. I just wish the series had a bit more guts to leave things up to viewers to piece together and reach our own conclusions, instead of resorting to THIS IS WHAT THIS SCENE MEANS cues, or THIS THING WE'VE BEEN MASSIVELY HINTING AT ALL SEASON IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ALREADY KNEW IT WAS reveals. Ferguson's imaginary friend/father, for example. When she has her breakdown at home and he's suddenly, inexplicably there, you realise he's imaginary, but no, this isn't enough: they have to do a WOW BIG TWIST DIDN'T SEE THAT COMIMG EH? scene where she's talking to thin air. Yeah. Subtlety doesn't exist in Wentworth. It treats its viewers like idiots, and it's irritating.

Occasionally they do something unexpected and interesting. Franky desperately needing cash for Cindy Lou, for example, and eventually having to resort to prostituting herself to the butch hep-C lesbian. In almost every other Wentworth scenario, the main character would get out of the crisis at the last possible moment: Boomer saving Franky from gang rape, or Franky (again) being saved from Jacs cutting off her tits/tattoos. I was expecting Franky to win the pools just as Cindy Lou was about to knife her, but heeey, how about that: she actually fucks hep-C. They finally had the guts to put her through something dark, demeaning and gruesome. There's just not enough of that. Instead of 'How would this character deal with this situation and what would the natural outcome be?', the question the writers seem to ask themselves is, 'Which circumstances will we have to engineer in order to rescue this character from this situation?'

For me, as soon as a TV programme starts to feel like a TV programme - twists! shocks! pointless fires! explosions! melodrama! cheap thrills! mindless entertainment! - rather than a world you completely believe in and in which you're thoroughly absorbed, its credibility is gone. It's such a cliche to cite The Wire at this point, I know, but it's the easiest example to hand of what I mean. You watch it, and you're in Baltimore. You're there. The people are real. The events are happening. You don't question a thing until the episode ends. In Wentworth, you're aware you're watching a campy TV drama the entire time it's on. It does a lot of things well - I still think that penultimate episode of season two was fantastic - but it does so, so much more badly.

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