The enjoyable debut of the Outrageous Fortune prequel revels in its 70s-ness just as the original revelled in its Westy-ness


arrived on our screens, not just offering a promising start to this six-part encore to

Outrageous Fortune

, but yet more evidence of global warming.


The prequel opened telling us it was January 24 1974 and it was evidently sunny. But back then it seems, you could wear a turtleneck leather sportscoat combo in the middle of a New Zealand summer's day and not break a sweat.

Of course, the leather was all about making its crim characters look, well, criminal and cool. Walkshorts would have undermined that.

True, there was at least one character dressed for the season - policeman Mike McCarthy (Will Hall) waiting outside Mt Eden Prison in the opening scene.

"What's that you're wearing constable?" asked the newly released Ted West.

"That's Detective Sergeant to you. And it's a safari suit," replied the cop.

"No rhinos around here Mike. Just a pig dressed as a ponce."

Cue hyena laugh from Ted and with it the thought that while David de Lautour might not look like a younger version of cantankerous Grandpa Ted as played by the late Frank Whitten in Outrageous Fortune, that cackle of his sure connects the dots.

So did the bit when he urinated off the deck of the newly purchased chez West, the start of a lifetime habit.

Maybe he was marking his territory - but the show's not all his.

At the outset, it might have seemed like Westside's opening episode was going to be about Ted getting out, getting reacquainted - frequently and fervently - with missus Rita, and getting even with whoever dobbed him in on his last job, for which he spent three years inside.

But by the end the episode had pulled a neat switcheroo.

One which may prove that Westside might have started out centred on wisecracking, safecracking Ted but will become more driven by Rita.

Sure, Outrageous Fortune fans will have fun seeing if Ted's good old days were all they were cracked up to be. So far, so good. He makes a fine young scoundrel, even if he's not much of a dad.

But Rita is clearly a woman who is not to be trifled with, as Vern, the young bloke next door with the strange indeterminate accent eventually found out, having kept her company during Ted's lag inside but who was now in the way.

Rita is played, again, by Antonia Prebble having already appeared in Outrageous flashbacks as the grandmother of her character Loretta.

Opposite de Lautour and playing doting mum to young Wolf (Reon Bell), Prebble is understandably assured in the role here while rocking some groovy period threads and spectacular hair

Yes, the show isn't afraid to revel in its 1974-ness much in the same way Outrageous Fortune did in its bogan Westy-ness.

But the debut episode wasn't just a riot of retro production design, gas-guzzling cars and the bad habits of the age.

It cleverly worked the '74 Christchurch Commonwealth Games into its story. Ted took the time it took Filbert Bayi to beat John Walker in the 1500m to crack a safe. It was an amusinge touch, which delivered easy nostalgia and undercut it at the same time. So was using the earworm Games' anthem Join Together for the closing credits.

Ted's safe loot was enough for the deposit on the house in which a generation or three of Wests will grow up in.

There goes the neighbourhood, again. It's feeling good to be back. Way back.