As a Prisoner fan, I really want to like Wentworth, but there are just so many things I don’t like about it.
The constant slow motion. The blue tint. The rubbish songs played over a montage at the end of every-single-episode. The series’ inability to have a consistent storytelling format And the series inability to keep to a consistent tone.
The slow motion completely takes me out of Wentworth, by reminding me that I’m just watching a TV programme. I have to try to quell my frustration at the cheesy slow motion and get back in to it. And then what happens? More slow motion! The choice to add slow motion is completely bewildering because slow motion has been thought of as cheesy for at least 20 years. I remember being a wee boy and comedy sketch shows would mock movies and TV as being cheesy by mocking their slow motion. Every single violent scene in Wentworth completely loses it’s dramatic impact because of it’s unnecessary, ill-advised slow motion. To makes things even worse they always add a cheesy ‘whoosh’ sound effect at the beginning and end of the slow motion, which makes it even more noticeable and more cheesy! Even worse than the slow-mo is when they speed up the footage (again accompanied by a whoosh sound effect) This slow-mo to fast forward type effect was the type of thing you used to see in cheesy straight to video action movies, in the 90s, starring people like Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. It’s unnecessary, excruciatingly cringe-worthy and always takes me right out of the show.
The rubbish songs played over a montage at the end of every-single-episode.
There’s nothing wrong with having a montage, if it’s done on a particularly special episode. For example when a major character has died, a Christmas special, the last episode, or whatever. But Wentworth uses a montage (with a rubbish song playing over it) on every single episode! And it’s done so right from the very beginning of the series! It’s far too heavy handed. As with the slow motion, I’ve never seen anything like it. Never have I seen a TV programme over use something the way Wentworth does.
The series’ inability to have a consistent storytelling format.
Season 1 had a very annoying format of each episode focusing almost completely on one character. Laboriously jumping back and forth between present day Wentworth and the crime that got them in there. Season 2 seemed to have ditched the laborious flashbacks (thank god) But then brought them back for Joan Ferguson. As with the slow-mo and montages, I’ve never seen a TV show have such an inconsistent format.
The series inability to keep to a consistent tone.
The first episode saw a mini riot brake out in the prison in which the prison governor was killed. The series had set itself up as being a dark, gritty crime drama. Yet when viewers tune in to see the second episode, taking place just after the riot, we’re confronted with the inmates singing and dancing to ‘Hot Potato’, directly towards the camera. I wouldn’t necessarily mind a little subtle humour in the series, but a riot had just taken place. Viewers are tuning in to see the aftermath. Yet at the very start of only the second episode we’re confronted with the inmates singing Hot Potato? What the fuck? It’s a song I’ve not heard since nursery school and upon seeing it in Wentworth, made me realise how annoying it is. The scene was an extremely stupid thing to do in such an early episode, when a series should be making a mark as to it’s overall tone.
Season 2 seemed to be an improvement on the first. And then the programme brings in a transsexual male character, as if a man would be put in a female prison! Then, as if to deliberately make it more cringe worthy, they put a tea cosy on it’s head. Some viewers have asked their selves why Wentworth isn’t more popular in Britain than it is. Part of the reason for this might be the fact it’s on channel 5. But partly it’s because the series doesn’t keep a consistent tone, in the same way, a better produced U.S. drama would. You simply wouldn’t see such ill-advised , cringe-worthy scenes such as prisoners singing Hot Potato or a transsexual man in a female prison in U.S. drama’s such as Oz, Prison Break, The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad. Such scenes have shown the producers don’t have any awareness as to what makes or breaks a programme having any street cred.
The constant slow motion, montages and the fact that each episode focuses mainly on one character, with one character’s flash backs being boringly interspersed throughout each episode, makes the series very difficult to get in to. And very difficult to find entertaining. The series is chucking everything but the kitchen sink at you . Wentworth is all over the place.
One of the good things about Prisoner, is that it had this wonderful feel of voyeurism. As if you were peering into a world you shouldn’t be allowed access to. And it all seemed so effortless and naturalistic. Wentworth never has that feel because of the constant reminders that you’re just watching a TV show. Wentworth needs to ditch the slow motion, the blue tint, the rubbish songs and montages and just get on with the serious business of telling stories.