Sea Patrol Series 02 Overview (2008)


Introduction

The second season of the Australian drama Sea Patrol premiered on the Nine Network on 31 March 2008 and aired on Monday nights at 8:30 pm. The thirteen-episode season ended on 23 June 2008.

The season introduced a new patrol boat, following the decommissioning of the original, Fremantle class boat in the final scenes of season one. The new HMAS Hammersley (hull number 82) was of the Armidale class, reflecting the real-life changeover in the Australian fleet. The second season also featured the debut of a new main character, Able Seaman Rebecca “Bomber” Brown, as the boat’s new cook.

Though advertised by the Nine Network as Sea Patrol II: The Coup, episodes themselves bore no title other than Sea Patrol, and the ISAN number indicated that the episodes were merely episodes 14-26 of Sea Patrol.

Continuing the format from the first season, episodes generally moved a season-long story arc along. As the Nine Network marketing indicated, this arc involved a coup on the Samaru Islands, a fictional island nation close to Australia. In many ways, the story was evocative of Operation ANODE, a peacekeeping mission to the Solomon Islands that has been called “the [operational] pinnacle for the Fremantle class” by the Australian Department of Defence.

Outline

The season-long story arc revolved around a political conflict in the fictional Samaru Islands, which was ultimately shown to be located approximately due east of Cairns. Starting somewhere during a political campaign to elect the nation’s president, the season ended literally on the day of the election. Throughout the season, the crew of Hammersley encountered an increasing number of clues that someone was using the waters off northeast Queensland to stage a paramilitary coup of the sitting Samaran government. Ultimately, it became clear that someone meant to stop the impending election from proceeding according to the will of voters. Over the course of the season, Australian businessman, Ray Walsman – an apparent victim of the anti-government forces in the premiere episode – emerged as the leader of the insurgency. His aim was to secure lucrative mining rights from the government which would have been formed had the coup succeeded.

In the season opener, the writers allowed one of the characters to directly reference the real-life events that inspired the story line. Following an initial rescue mission to the Samaru Islands in “The Dogs of War”, Hammersley’s captain tells his department heads that the Australian government has finalised a peacekeeping arrangement with the Samaran government, and that return visits are therefore likely. Charge says, “Great. That’d be the Solomons all over again.”

Ongoing Subplots

All main characters had at least one subplot which appeared in more than one episode. Among them were: Nav and ET’s increasing problems in keeping their romantic relationship a secret, Bomber’s anger-management issues, Spider’s relationship with Carly Walsman, the negative impact of a naval career on Swain’s marriage, the differing ways in which Buffer and Charge dealt with near-death experiences, Kate’s relationship with SAS officer Jim Roth, Mike’s struggle to choose the best way to proceed his career, and ROs continued social isolation from his shipmates.

Production

The season was filmed on the Royal Australian Navy’s new Armidale class patrol boat. 42 days of the filming schedule were spent aboard HMAS Broome, with pickup shooting later performed aboard HMAS Launceston. The remainder of the 86 days of filming were at studios, and on location at the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Storylines Controversies

The series caused controversy among some officers of the Royal Australian Navy when they came to believe that “its raunchy storylines” were “making a mockery of the navy”. Controversy was caused when, in some episodes, there were hints of romance between RAN officers and seamen. These were said to make a mockery of the navy’s strict non-fraterisation policy.

The amount of sex on the show is simply a bloody joke… It makes a mockery of the incredible lengths that the navy and Department of Defence have taken to ensure that interpersonal relationships are kept at a professional level… The reality is some of it is absolutely absurd. Naval Association of Australia president, Les Dwyer.

Some controversy was also caused with the storylines of the second season of Sea Patrol which feature a political coup in the fictional islands of Samaru. While some critics embraced the new storylines of the show, some were worried that “It’s a tricky business when TV dramas stray into real-world politics”.

Ratings

Reviews of the season were mixed.

Ratings for this season successfully reversed the trend of the first season. Whereas the first year had been plagued by a generally downward trend, season two was characterised by gradually improving ratings. Only the Brisbane region exhibited a strong fall-off of viewers in the season’s final weeks. Although no episode of the season scored as highly as season one’s first week, the final five weeks held steady at 1.5 million viewers nationally. The last two episodes of the season gained well over half a million more viewers over the last two installments of season one.

Sea Patrol Series

You can find a full index and overview of Sea Patrol here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Geoff Bennett and Ian Berry.
  • Writer(s): John Ridley, Fleicity Packard, Michaeley O’Brien, Jeff Truman, Tony Morphett, Samantha Winston, Philip Dalkin, Matt Ford, and Adam H. Todd.
  • Release Date: 31 March 2008 to 23 June 2008.
  • Running Time: 42 minutes.
  • Rating: 12+.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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