14th August 1997
Complete with icy elegance and wicked glint. Wendy Hughes is a perfect choice for the dominant character in this busy series. She plays Kate Ferrari, a canny, initially Kid-man-curled magistrate who in one very hard day at the office inherits the job of State Coroner, a disgruntled deputy and two unpleasantly gory cases.
State Coroner has many of the hallmarks of a production from Crawfords (think The Feds). There’s the dramatic opener, the how, why and wherefore middle and the (up to a point) surprise ending. But in this one there’s more for the money: two explosive opening segments, double-decker storylines and loads of intrigue involving pornography, political jiggery pokery and culpable negligence. Much is predictable, some too tangled, but the pace and performance levels never flag.
Note Bob Baines as Kate’s resentful second-in-command, Christopher Stollery as a homicide detective, Nicholas Bell as his sidekick and long-ago Neighbours star Elaine Smith as a steel-nerved pathologist. Hughes plays “the Ferrari woman-fast and dangerous” with skill, clearly relishing a refreshingly flawed character of the late ’90s. She may be a smart operator, but she also gets weak-kneed at post mortems, has a seriously splitting marriage, steps in the odd piece of dog doo and (unlike Halifax f.p.) doesn’t sleep in full make-up.’Way to go. Grade: B