“Wentworth” One Of TV’s Finest Series

poster LOGONot since the outstanding “Breaking Bad” series have I been as intrigued, fascinated, riveted, mesmerized, addicted, and all other forms of blown away by a television show as I was with “Wentworth.” It’s quite simply one of the most superior dramatic series I’ve ever seen, and if you’ve never heard of the show, I’m going to keep you in suspense a bit longer. I discovered “Wentworth” completely by accident as I was browsing through Netflix on my computer, and after reading a description of it, I decided to have a look. I soon embarked on a binge-watch of the first three seasons, the last of which wrapped up in June. My only problem now is that I have to wait until next year for season four, and I don’t know that I can stand it. All right, you’ve been patient long enough. “Wentworth” is an Australian drama set in the Wentworth female prison, and it’s based upon the popular Australian soap opera titled “Prisoner,” which ran from 1979 to 1986. In the first episode we meet Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack), who has been sentenced to Wentworth for attempting to murder her scumbag of a husband Jake Ryan), who entertains himself by beating her on a regular basis. 1 Now before Bea was driven to strike back at her husband, she had never been in trouble with law, and she dotes on her teenage daughter, Debbie (Georgia Flood), whom she must now leave behind her. As you might expect, Bea is terrified when she enters Wentworth, and in an online interview, Cormack explained why. “It’s her first time inside. She has a pretty clean record. And then suddenly through circumstances and through her being a victim of domestic violence, she finds herself inside, and in a very foreign world, Very scary.” After being subjected to a humiliating strip search, Bea becomes part of the general prison population, and it doesn’t take her long to learn about the vicious rivalry between two inmates – Jacs Holt (Kris McQuade) and Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva) – both of whom aspire to be “top dog” or the one who controls the other prisoners. 4 During the first season we meet the other inmates and the guards, and each and every one them is memorable. It’s consistently fascinating to watch the human dynamics among the inmates play out within the prison walls. Also in season one a dramatic event occurs that has a major effect on the prison, and the season finale will knock you out. I won’t reveal much more of the plot because each episode contains its own surprises. However, it is important to know that when the second season begins, Wentworth has a new governor, which is the equivalent of a warden in an American prison. Her name is Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe), and she is one of the most unforgettable characters you will ever encounter in either film or television. More about her is coming. All of the characters in series are fascinating, but there are far too many to mention here. Therefore, here’s a brief look at some of the most prominent ones: Vera Bennett (Kate Atkinson) is the deputy governor with a number of personal issues; Liz Birdsworth (Celia Ireland) is an alcoholic inmate overcome with guilt about deserting her two children; Doreen Anderson (Shareena Clanton) is an African-American inmate whose sentence is complicated by an unexpected event; Sue “Boomer” Jenkins (Katrina Milosevic) is a large and very tough inmate and a member of Franky’s army; and Will Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) and Matthew Fletcher (Aaron Jeffery) are the two main guards whose respective stories are every bit as interesting as those of the inmates. 2 Two previously mentioned characters warrant additional treatment here. Franky Doyle is incredibly tough, and she takes no lip from anyone. She’s also fearless, and da Silva is magnificent in portraying her. In an online interview, she offered some interesting insight into Franky. “She’s really vivacious. She goes about things and gets them done. She’s quite energetic, and I think that’s why she’s liked and why she’s popular with the girls. Her weakness is that she is actually trying to control it all, and I think that gets the better of her. I did have to change my physicality and my body. That’s one of the things that I had to focus on because I wanted her to be a physical presence. I wanted her to be able to hold herself in a certain way with all of her tattoos and stuff. And her working out is a way she controls her body, it’s the way she controls herself, and therefore, it’s the way she controls everyone else.” Then there’s Joan Ferguson, who is inarguably one of the most frightening villains ever created. This woman makes Hannibal Lecter look like Santa Claus. Rabe’s chilling portrayal of her is beyond brilliant, and in an online interview she analyzed her character. 10 “She is a no nonsense woman. She has been headhunted from another prison facility because of her consummate skill at fixing problems, and clearly there are a few problems at Wentworth. I think she would’ve known the place was in some disarray. I don’t think she was quite prepared for how quite out-of-control it was. I think she was headhunted from this previous prison in Queensland, where she was known as the fixer because that’s what she does well. For somebody who could get into one organization, shake it up, crack a whip, and get it to function efficiently. She’s a very astute person. She’s a very private person. She’s very controlling person. And she likes things to work the way she wants them to work and she wants everyone to want to please her. Ruthless.” “Wentworth” has received myriad drama nominations and awards in Australia, and in addition to superb acting, the series features great sets and costumes, and the writing is consistently brilliant. The depth of the character development is incredible, and you get to know the people so well that you would recognize them if you met them on the street. I also found myself thinking about them even when I wasn’t watching the show. 8 Now if you are a fan of “Orange Is The New Black” (I am one.), you may be wondering how “Wentworth” stacks up against it. Trust me when tell you they aren’t even in the same ballpark. In the first place, “OITNB” is a dramedy, but there isn’t much humor in “Wentworth.” Secondly, the acting, directing, writing, depth, and character development in “Wentworth” are all superior to the same elements in “OITNB.” Be forewarned, however, that the sex and profanity in the show are prevalent and graphic, but life in prison isn’t a fairytale. “Wentworth” is so good that I may just binge-watch all three seasons again. This show has absolutely no flaws, and thus it earns the final score of a 100 percent above perfect 10+. Unheard of! https://youtu.be/usljaBhrFRg

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