Johannesburg - Cape Town – complete with lens-flare shots dropped in – looks beautiful in the crime series Cape Town.
But that’s about all that’s great about the shlock-filled drama series on Universal Channel that’s dragged down by fake accents, overstylised shots and worn-out crime drama stereotypes playing like a painfully slow NCIS or CSI pastiche.
Cape Town – presumably filmed for sale to some obscure European country’s public broadcaster to fill a late-night slot – looks like the Clifton Shores reality show with an added layer of wannabe film noir.
In fact, some of the spotty acting of the Clifton Shores reality stars was better.
The drama series is a “South African” TV production that couldn’t bother – or didn’t want – to cast South Africans as the lead characters.
From Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim as the unconvincing detective Mat Joubert to American actor Boris Kodjoe (who shares a producer credit and delivers a cringeworthy accent), the acting in this all-in-production and Out of Africa Entertainment series is hackneyed, stilted and horrible.
Like the shockingly bad African superhero drama Jongo earlier this year, and shows filmed in the Mother City infused with foreign money such as Charlie Jade and Of Kings and Prophets, Cape Town – based on Deon Meyer’s third novel, Dead Before Dying – is an overwrought mess.
Too much filtering, pacing problems (ooh, slooow must mean it’s “noir”), let’s-go-on-location-because-we-can mistakes, paper-thin acting and scripts that feel like they were written by the people who also do airline in-flight safety instruction videos, make Cape Town feel deader than the Sea Point pool in winter.
Compared with how Afrikaans channel kykNET and ShowMax managed to adapt crime dramas like Die Byl (coincidentally also filmed in the Mother City and currently on air), Cape Town pales by comparison.
Where’s the heart?
Where’s the acting?
Why do the crime scenes, media and sad people all look so incredibly fake?
Cold, clinical and with apparently more attention given to the stylistic aspects and production design (Ooh, a beautiful mansion with Roman pillars! Aah, a sporty red car!) than to the characters in the story, the drama series feels as faraway and detached as the interstitial scene-setting drone shots done over Cape Town’s high-rise cityscape.
Too many TV shows nowadays want to tout “local production” – as if that gives it a free cable car ride as must-watch television because it was “made here”.
This drama series is sadly not one of those.
My advice is to skip the show and read the book.
Cape Town airs Wednesdays at 20:50 on Universal Channel (DStv 117).
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