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Review: The Kettering Incident


 ‘Twin Peaks’ Aussie style is the general buzz surrounding the sci-fi drama ‘The Kettering Incident’, and accolades like that are hard to live up to!

Thankfully, the show which spans 8 episodes over 3 discs, more than meets expectations as the suspenseful plot delves deeply into the human condition in a tale of love, loss, betrayal all amidst the beautiful backdrop of Tasmania’s lush mountain forest.

The series opens with a concept which sees the series at least begin on safe and familiar territory. Two girls, one wearing an iconic red coat are seen cycling in the ‘Kettering Forest’. They stop, and then in a dizzying array of lights, weird noises and burring vision one disappears into the forest, never to be seen again. Was she taken? Killed? were the lights torches or something more ‘otherworldly’? Well these questions are pretty much the backbone of the series, of whom the answers are going to be the main reason you will be smashing your way through each episode like your life depended on it!

Anna Macy (Elizabeth Debicki) is the sole survivor of the incident, and we re-join her life in London years later, where, as a struggling doctor, returns to the life she abandoned many years ago, back to Tasmania. Shortly after her return another girl named Chloe goes missing -same place, same circumstances. The series follows the dumbfounded townsfolk as they try to make sense of situations that are both out of their control and ultimately their understanding.

The series gets off to a somewhat ponderous start, and despite the frankly awe-inspiring vistas provided courtesy of Tasmania’s natural landscape, there is something rather depressing about the initial episode that I found a little difficult to access. The main character is inherently flawed, not liked by anyone else, and a little too self-serving in my mind. The other characters also, adulterers, drug pushers, downtrodden housewives, corrupt copy and hilly-billy hicks rowing with pretentious environmentalists are somewhat difficult to get on board with. That said, cleverly placed cliff-hangers kept the disc spinning onto episode 2 and from then on in it was full steam ahead.

The series doesn’t move along at too swifter pace (if it had gone any quicker I think I would have missed some fairly pivotal details), but that’s not to say there is nothing going on. As with most effective dramas there is a neat web of interwoven sub-plots which independent of each other seem a little understated and often irrelevant, but it’s not before long that each little detail becomes increasingly important when put into context with each other; whether providing a hint as to the mysterious goings on up on ‘Mother Sullivan’s ridge’ (the only inhabited part of Kettering Forest), or simply compounding the issues which seem to further hinder any chance the townsfolk have of regaining control of their plight. 

Indeed, where I might have been somewhat negative of the tone initially, had someone asked me my opinion one hour in, it became quickly apparent that the whole series was reliant on it. There is a definite feel of impending doom, from episode to episode, ramped up significantly in the nail biting final third of the series. I do not want to say much more about the plot for obvious reasons, but let me just say that this is one of those finely crafted series which blends real-world and science fiction concepts together so naturally you end up questioning yourself what could be feasible!

The praise for the plot continues in all other technical elements of the film also. The camera work, the locations, the acting, script the full works – fantastic to say the least. There is even a clever ending which may or may-not hint at a second series…

Overall, for fans of intricate science fiction and mystery in a mature TV series will not be disappointed. As for the Lynchonian comparisons, yeah, I would say so, although even without that association this series would stand-up against competition. ‘The Kettering Incident’ is available to buy on DVD in the UK from April 10th, I recommend you check it out.  

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