Pay TV: LA drug drama Snowfall begins while Mateship probes US-Australia military ties

SNOWFALL ★★★½
New series, Wednesday, July 4, 8.30pm, Showcase

At about the 15-minute mark, Snowfall finally starts to get interesting. Until then it's all a scattershot introduction to characters, with no clear pointers as to who we should be paying attention to or why – and not a lot of effort made to make anyone especially interesting. The one thing that emerges clearly is that in LA in 1983, pretty much everyone, from all levels of society, is either buying, selling and/or consuming drugs. Which is kind of crucial to the whole point here: the crack epidemic that would soon start rotting the city from the inside out. (No, "snowfall" doesn't refer to an unusual meteorological event.) Then things kick up a notch and three appealing central players emerge: Frankie, the smart, ambitious black kid from the wrong side of the tracks; Teddy, a CIA operative already washed up at 28 and desperate to get back into the main game; and Oso, a sad-sack Mexican wrestler who finds himself in way too deep with the wrong people. There are some bum notes here, particularly in sudden spurts of speechifying. But the production values are terrific, as is the cast of near-unknowns, especially young Damson Idris as Frankie.

Snowfall

Snowfall

MATESHIP ★★★½
Wednesday, July 4, 7.30pm, History

Interestingly, the current US President doesn't rate a mention in this documentary exploring the forged-in-fire relationship between Australia and the US. Fronted by Mike Munro, it's a surprisingly thoughtful look at the ups and downs of a 100-year-old military alliance that began under General Monash's command on the Western Front, was formalised post-WW2 with the ANZUS treaty, and brought us, for better or worse, to our current involvements in the Middle East. What is clear is that the "mateship" is bigger, and more important, than any single leader.

Snowfall stars Amin Joseph (left) as Jerome and Damson Idris as Franklin Saint.

Snowfall stars Amin Joseph (left) as Jerome and Damson Idris as Franklin Saint.

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