Women’s prison. Stacey Dooley brought the knowledge, Orange Is the New Black brought the drama and now Wentworth Prison brings the necrophilia. In what is a sincere attempt to fuck some life into the corpse of Prisoner: Cell Block H the show is a modern-day reimagining of the original with a clear ethic of fewer episodes, better sets and more lesbians. Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) is our focus. It’s her first day on her first time inside and she’s understandably squirrelly. Her peer worker Doreen (Shareena Clanton) shows her around the joint and it doesn’t seem so bad. Your own room, plenty of association, coffee and TV – she could get to like it here. Then she walks in on Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva) banging some broad in her cell. Ah, there’s the Prisoner we know.
The word from the other inmates is you don’t eff with Franky. Young, hot and with a temper only matched by her voracious appetite for clam, she’s the interim top dog while reigning prison queen Jacs Holt (Kris McQuadesings) is doing time in solitary (or the slot as they call it). Bea doesn’t want any trouble – all she wants to do is talk to her daughter. Franky on the other hand does want trouble – like the demon bikers in Buffy season 6 premiere she’s really all about trouble. By preventing her from phoning her daughter she forces Bea to smuggle drugs in through a visit she sets up. Bea gets caught and it’s off to the slot she goes.
Young, hot and with a temper only matched by her voracious appetite for clam, she’s the interim top dog while reigning prison queen Jacs Holt (Kris McQuadesings) is doing time in solitary.
But she ain’t no rat, see, so when she emerges from solitary it’s with a new respect among the inmates. It’s too bad that Jacs Holt gets released into gen pop at the same time and starts fucking with her in the canteen. She stands her ground well enough though and given that she tried to gas her husbland after some unfortunate domestic abuse misunderstanding¹ she might not be a woman you would want to push into a corner. Jacs will deal with her in good time no doubt but for now her focus is on the power struggle between her and Franky. “Your time’s over clitty licker” she tells her enemy “We’re coming to get you”. See how she went straight to the gay thing? These people.
“Your time’s over clitty licker” she tells her enemy “We’re coming to get you”. See how she went straight to the gay thing? These people.
Short story shorter: it culminates in a set-to between the 2 crews. Fists, shanks and casual homophobia are the weapons of the day and it leads to a confusing and very poorly policed riot. Jacs tries to chop Franky’s tits off but is interrupted by a huge tub who saves the day. Franky and the rest of the prison break a huge sigh of relief. She’s a big enough pain in the balls as it is, the prospect of a rackless Franky is too much to bear. Well done, tub. During the melee Bea somehow falls over the stabbed body of Governor Vinegar Tits, splattering herself with her blood. Well that’s going to take some ‘splaining.
Jacs tries to chop Franky’s tits off but is interrupted by a huge tub who saves the day. Franky and the rest of the prison break a huge sigh of relief.
I suppose this isn’t complete shite. The violence, sexual exploitation and human misery you expect from prison drama are all here, it’s just a little difficult to take seriously when there’s a very recent and clearly superior alternative. If we assume that Bea’s arc will eventually place her as Wentworth’s queen bitch there’s at least some curiosity in how she gets there. It’s got good notices of course but Australian TV critics are simpleminded rubes, easily impressed. It’s no Underbelly.
The verdict: Pales next to the late ² Tim Dog’s Going Wild in the Penile
Marks out of 10: 6
¹ Husbland thought it was OK to beat and rape her. Bea took a different view.
² Yeah, because Tim Dog is “dead”. That’s right, sheeple.