Gerard Henderson in SMH fulminates against the SBS program ‘Liberal Rule’, which begins tonight. The program, according to Gerard, is full of ‘Howard-haters’ and ’a shocker and a disgrace’.
Henderson is keen to see the history books treat Howard nicely, which is a noble cause. But it is difficult to imagine what would pass muster with him this side of a propaganda unit. As he says, he wasn’t keen on ‘The Howard Years‘ either, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more obsequious portrait of the former PM than that one.
I’ve seen the first episode of ‘Liberal Rule’ (will be reviewing it and others for Inside Story [update: here]) and it ain’t perfect, but so far it is superior to the ABC1 product. This one is more politically literate, taking a longer term view, noting the part luck plays in the ebbs and flows of political success, reprising the Fraser and Hawke/Keating years. It has more dimensions.
It draws many long bows, like any political show. There are probably too many talking heads, and too much carping about the economy from non-economics types (particularly Mark Davis).
But its characters are more than cardboard cut-out heroic ‘men of steel’. Which is presumably Gerard’s problem with it.
[22 July update: having now seen the last two episodes, I must confess to moving just a smidgen towards Gerard's position (without the personal abuse). There are a few too many adjudications from lefty academics, which is not the academics' fault but the producers. Full review at Inside Story tomorrow. Update: here.]