>Action versus Suspense

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Jim Schembri writing Thursday’s TV Guide in the Sydney Morning Herald stated that “Rush is further evidence that Australian television just can’t do action well.” 

And he’s right to a certain degree, in my opinion.

The episode in question was very low in action, but it was quite high in terms of suspense, which I have come to find is a trademark in most Australian television and film.

A nation’s media output is a reflection of its environment and culture, remember. Friday’s Daily Telegraph ran an article that said that Australian horror movies may be hurting tourism:

Speaking in the article, QUT professor Mark David Ryan said: "Horror films hold up a mirror to the dark aspects of a given culture, or underlying cultural fears and anxiety, and in the case of Australian films it is often about a hostile landscape, nature taking its revenge, and also of a fear of outsiders”.

In the US and many other countries which have a higher population, you find that television and film illustrate that the threatening presence is another person rather the environment itself, and that other person is right around the corner, minutes or even seconds away. In Australian media, however, the threat is lingering, permeating the air, but not quite manifesting itself until the end for maximum shock.

It’s a slow burn instead of a rapid fire, so to speak.

A prime example of this slow burn used effectively are the understated City Homicide on Seven, and East West 101 on SBS, where the stories unravel at a slower pace, and the outcome is not always a given. American shows–for the most part–may have more bang bang, but showing the impact of the violence does not happen that often. (I’d say The Closer is one of the few that does.)

So Australia might not do action, but it does do suspense quite well.

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