Angels in Parramatta – an Australian fantasy crime drama series.
It is 2011. MARK VELLA, a NSW cop from multicultural Parramatta in Western Sydney, Australia is caught up in a cosmic mistake. The archangel charged with overseeing the spiritual safety of Parramatta has gone away on urgent business in the Middle East, and his replacement has failed to show up. The lieutenant angels who find themselves having to pick up the slack are pretty ‘green’ – that is, they have limited experience dealing with human affairs.
When they are left on their own to keep things running, one or two ‘slip ups’ ensue, with the result that Mark notices certain inconsistencies in reality occurring in the course of investigating his every-day crimes. He witnesses an angelic intervention, is removed from reality and taken to the ‘Realm of Light’ for his own safety. When Mark proves useful to the angels by providing a human perspective on a thorny spiritual problem, he is from then on recruited into the angel squad to be their ‘man on the ground’ . Mark helps to train the angels to act as a team and understand human behaviour and motivation, while he in turn learns about crime on a more spiritual level. Meanwhile, the Other Side (malevolent metaphysical forces) see the power vacuum as the perfect opportunity to stage a major assault on the human race, using the residents of Parramatta as their ‘security hole’.
Themes explored are the nature of reality/subjectivity, the ideas of absolute and relative morality, religious and cultural tolerance and responsibility. It is envisioned that some deep cultural exploration can occur as people from different walks of life and various religious traditions try to come to terms with the supernatural showing up in the most unlikely of places. A fair bit of comic relief will come from the situational comedy of having such an epic story play out in a fairly suburban, parochial part of the world (cf. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sunnydale).
The point of difference for this series is that it explores multiculturalism in Australia from a spiritual point of view – in doing this, it tackles what has traditionally been a fairly ‘taboo’ area for Australian drama – the relationship between religion/spirituality and the multicultural and metropolitan realities of life in our contemporary cities.
The angels are not from any particular religious tradition – in fact they don’t refer to themselves as angels. They start off as beings of light, agents of a higher purpose, and are seen as reflections that can only be glimpsed in mirrors, glass, still water, etc. As the series progresses they manifest more completely, scanning human beings so they can take a more recognisable visual form. They also take on the ability to make choices – an important feature of the series, as it gives Mark a chance to teach them (and himself) what it means to choose. Characters from different traditions and points of view will refer to them differently, either as angels, spirits, or similar concepts in various languages and religious traditions.
The fantasy milieu opens up a new way to look at crime. The inner reality behind the motivations of the characters can be expressed as tangible symbolic realities. Deep psychological symbologies, e.g. Jungian archetypes, can find expression in the visual language of the series.
Notwithstanding the fantasy genre, Angels in Parramatta is gritty and realistic; the crimes are portrayed vividly and fairly graphically; the angels are imperfect creatures rather than saviour figures, and the human heroes are flawed. Rather than didactic explanations of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ , Angels in Parramatta will present a more pluralistic and context-based view of morality. The series is, at heart, about taking responsibility for the choices that you make.