Thursday, March 1, 2012

My new heroes (and why Melbourne needs to get real about it's architectural heritage).

I have just two devoted periods in the week of television watching now. Mandatory, Green-Guide-highlighted, kids-in-bed-and-dishes-done, steaming-cup-of-tea-in-hand-and-pass-me-the-gingernuts idiotbox viewing. I refer, of course, to my Melbourne television heroes, Phryne Fisher and Frank Woodley.

Some months ago I posted regarding my favorite Aussie lady detective, the Honourable Phryne Fisher, and my barely contained glee at the news that a TV series based on Kerry Greenwood's action character was in production for ABC TV.

Coupled with unlikely hero Frank Woodley, who I believe has not graced our screens in a series since the very excellent 'The Adventures of Lano and Woodley', Phryne and Frank are the specialists in Melbourne thrills (Phryne) and spills (Frank).

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (ABC1, Fridays, 8.30pm) is a winner, albeit with some minor flaws which I'm happy to overlook given that the overall package delivered is so much fun. I love that it's a period production which is not full of painfully forced period Aussie accents (I'm looking at you, Wild Boys), has a sense of humor, is not imported from the UK, is based on a quality book series, and has a stellar cast. Most of all, I love the fact it is shot primarily in 1920's Melbourne and that so many landmarks are identifiable, because, well, they are still actually there.

Woodley (ABC1, Wednesdays, 8pm) appeals to my sense of ridiculous. Frank is unequivically the modern Australian master of slapstick and physical comedy. Words are used economically in this quirky portrayal of a man who means so well but is continually blighted by poor timing and circumstance, who in makes my sides split yet my heart break. It is modest, silly, romantic and neatly told, but with a story undercurrent which is unfortunately so familar to many families.

The lovely suprise for me was again the location and style in which Woodley has been shot, utilising a 'Roberto Benini meets Amelie' flavor with many timeless Melbourne settings such as the Yarra river and MacRobertson Bridge, and beautifully carried along with a sentimental and romantic european-style background music reminiscent of early silent movies.

The shared brilliance of each of these series, apart from lovely characters, is that we are spoilt with their indulgent use of Melbourne landscapes of all eras which have had the luck to have been either thoughtfully preserved, or not yet razed.

Melbourne city decision-makers, those with the power to protect or destroy our architectual heritage, need to ensure they are taking a long-term view of the retention of the city's buildings. There are too many buildings, be they big or small, torn down and redeveloped into yet more homogenised apartments and retail. Melbourne needs to adopt a rationalisation of heritage building destruction and adopt a position of architectural adaptation and recycling.

Tourists, historians and sillies like me who wander the streets and laneways of Melbourne with faces upwards, bumping into busy shoppers, blissfully taking in the minutae of archictural details constructed before our Grandad's were out of short pants, unconsciously creating a wormhole for myself into those times, would thank you for having the foresight of such a gift, reminding us of where we've come from.

I'm sure Phryne and Frank would thank you too.

No comments:

Post a Comment