Underbelly season one review
" I still love you.
Je ne sais pas pourquoi" – Kylie Minogue
Could organised-crime be any more fun? Watching Underbelly, the 13 part miniseries chronicling the real-life events of the Melbourne gang war that took place between 1995-2004, you realise the answer is an implacable ‘no’. Money, pussy, gambling, drugs and violence – it’s like a weekend with Aerial Telly. At the heart of the story is Carl Williams (Gyton Grantley), a driver for the infamous Carlton Crew crime syndicate, a dimwit (almost) affectionately referred to as Fat Boy who, through a mixture of balls, brutality and vision, rises to become the new drug kingpin of Australia’s second city. He also becomes the country’s most notorious serial killer. Remember when Neighbours used to "disappear" failing characters off to Melbourne? Now you know who was meeting them at the airport.
"Carl Williams becomes the country’s most notorious serial killer. Remember when Neighbours used to "disappear" failing characters off to Melbourne? Now you know who was meeting them at the airport."
At the heart of the show is Williams’s relationship with the Moran brothers Jason (Les Hill) and Mark (Callan Mulvey). Jason is a small burly thug in the Phil Mitchell mould. He hangs with charismatic yob Alphonse Gangitano (Vince Colosimo), a standover man for the Carlton Crew (this means he stands over you and punches you in the face if you don’t give up the cash). After Jason and Gangitano go on the rampage at a nightclub maiming 13 civilians, every one of the victims refuses to testify after intimidation by the mobsters. The bully boy thugs of the Carlton Crew do not play. Fortunately, the dipshit Gangitano gets his balls blown off when the more sensible but no less ruthless brother Mark tires of his Tony Montana posturing. It is the first death in the nine year-long gang war. It will not be the last.
"Jason hangs with charismatic yob Alphonse Gangitano, a standover man (this means he stands over you and punches you in the face if you don’t give up the cash)."
Because the rejected stone is now the cornerstone. Having covertly formed an alliance with rival drug dealer Tony Mokbel (Robert Mammone) and taken a bullet in the guts for his trouble That Fat Bastard Williams has the money, the muscle and the motive to take on the old money of the Carlton Crew. He pays his workers more than the stingy, slow paying Carlton turds and is (relatively) fun to be around. TFB enjoys the money and women his ecstasy operation brings in and has no trouble in offing anyone who stands between him, his money and his pie. He kills Mark Moran himself as he takes out the trash. What a fat bastard.
"Steve Owen is the first person to recognize That Fat Bastard Williams as a significant threat. TFB calls him Officer Sphincter (look, it’s Australia – that’s what passes for repartee over there)."
Unsurprisingly, the whitehats of Victoria State Police are finding it difficult to keep up. Steve Owen (Rodger Corser) prominent member of Task Force Purana, the collective of John Q. Law shitheads assembled to tackle gangsters shooting each other in the face is the first person to recognize That Fat Bastard Williams as a significant threat. TFB calls him Officer Sphincter (look, it’s Australia – that’s what passes for repartee over there). As witnesses get nobbled and the bodies keep falling Owen becomes increasingly frustrated. Why, if he didn’t know better he’d say there were corrupt cops inside Victoria helping the gangsters out. Oh…
"30 or so bodies were dropped, most of them by rejected stone, special needs boy, Carlton Crew driver, Ecstasy kingpin, That Fat Bastard Carl Williams – the Shane Warne of the Melbourne underworld."
Underbelly is hugely enjoyable and, understandably for a nation of convicts, has captivated Australians who enjoy watching the moral lineal descendants of their criminal founding fathers doing what Australians do best – breaking the law. The Oz gangsters are grotesque, lovable, gruesome, stupid, fearsome. The real-life events were pretty intense so there’s no such thing as a filler episode. 30 or so bodies were dropped, most of them by rejected stone, special needs boy, Carlton Crew driver, Ecstasy kingpin, That Fat Bastard Carl Williams – the Shane Warne of the Melbourne underworld. Fat Boy does not play.
The best thing about it: That Fat Bastard Carl Williams
The worst thing about it: His hideous wife Roberta – the Skank of Melbourne.
The verdict on Underbelly: The man who put the belly into Underbelly.
Marks out of 10: 8
Imagined: 18th February 2009