When the title of a new show named Quarry appeared a few months ago, this writer didn’t pay it much attention. There was virtually little advertising, marketing or promotion for the series and the synopsis was brief. I thought I’d give the pilot a crack to see if it was any good. It most definitely was, and suddenly I found myself at the end of the season.
The crime-drama is based on a series of novels written by author Max Allan Collins. The first book, Quarry (aka The Broker,) was published in 1976.
Set in 1972, around the time of the Vietnam War, the TV series stars Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus, Devil) as Mac Conway, a Vietnam War veteran who returns home from a tour to his wife, Joni (Jodi Balfour), and tries to get his life back on track. However, his return encompasses a variety of problems ““ protestors opposing the war instantly attack him, he struggles to find decent work and has little money. Before long, Conway is confronted by a mysterious man known only as The Broker (Peter Mullan, who puts in great work with this role). Put simply: the Broker offers Conway the possibility of becoming a hitman, a job with a large sum of money waiting if done right. What follows is an intriguing and absorbing eight-episode season full of twists, deceit, drama and suspense, where everything is not as it seems.
Conway’s story develops in impressive fashion, as light is slowly shed on our protagonist, his experiences in Vietnam and the other characters that find themselves in his vicinity. Marshall-Green, Balfour and Mullan all put in gritty and superb performances, while Australian actor Damon Herriman (Justified) is fantastic as a fellow ‘Broker’ employee who provides just the right amount of comedic relief throughout.
One of the many drawcards for the series is the exceptional overall design. The spot-on clothing, appliances, the cars, everything appears to have been brought straight out of the 70’s for display, giving the period a very authentic look and feel. Kudos must go to William Budge’s art direction and the strong production design by Roshelle Berliner and Tim Grimes.
Quarry is convincingly grounded, with societal/political events and issues incorporated extremely well during this attention-grabbing first season. 1970’s USA is almost a character all of its own, and writers-creators Michael D. Fuller and Graham Gordy ensure it’s a lived-in, potent depiction of the era. Various elements, such the inclusion of anti-war protesters, segregation and discrimination towards African Americans, and nods to the Nixon v McGovern election, ensure that Conway’s tale is firmly and appropriately rooted in recent history.
The first season of Quarry is a great example of why we’re currently living in the Golden Age of television – the writing, performances, set design and technical aspects are of a very high standard, making this a standout crime-drama even among the array of prestige projects constantly making their way to the box. With just one season, Quarry has confidently established itself as a potent, unique outing, and it’s all the more impressive as a set-up for more seasons to come. Now, to patiently wait for season two.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10