Scott Wallace
31st Oct 2014


The web series Noirhouse represents a bold move forward for the ABC. Their iView platform, which allows online streaming of ABC programs, was the vanguard for similar streaming services from commercial networks, and now Noirhouse is the first series to be specifically commissioned to be shown exclusively via iView. Originally consisting of three short "webisodes" from Sky Machine Productions, the series so far has won numerous awards for its funny and irreverent take on a classic genre, sometimes playing it straight, but more often flipping the tropes of noir on their head to create light and playful comedy.

Set in a modern day share house, housemates The Detective (Nathan Spencer, who also co-created the series with Tasmanian-born, San Francisco-based series writer Tim Logan), Nadia (Melanie Irons) and The Russian (Michael Davies) find themselves in the middle of murder mystery full of intrigue and romance. Shot in black and white, full of dark shadows and Dutch tilts, every part of the series is an homage to the noir genre, right down the actors having an enormous amount of fun speaking their snappy, pun-filled lines with faux accents.

The series is very plot-oriented, despite the short running time (under ten minutes) of each episode. Cliff-hangers abound, and the crew never let their stylistic ambitions and absurd humour get in the way of pursuing the briskly-paced story. Also, despite the character names (or lack thereof) each actor imbues their character with a huge amount of personality, so that they are not just archetypes, but actual personalities. This clash of personalities is important in creating the modern day spin on noir that the series rests on, which is that these characters have to live in close quarters in a share house.
It is that aspect of the story that saves it from being more than a simple parody - a parody of a genre that we've seen parodied many times in the past - and makes it something fresh and interesting. The series brings a distinctly urbane and Australian point-of-view to the proceedings. Even while parodying a long defunct film genre, it is likely to be a very relatable series for people of a certain age, or anyone who has ever endured the trials of shared living.

It will be fascinating to see if the platform on which Noirhouse is being presented takes off. In an age increasingly characterised by on-demand entertainment, and with Australia lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of easily accessible streaming, Noirhouse is a small step forward, but it is an exciting one. It helps that the team behind it have created something fun, interesting, original and well-written. Noirhouse is free to view, and well worth taking the time to check out, especially for fans of out-of-the-ordinary comedy.

The original webisodes of Noirhouse can be seen on ABC iView All 6 new episodes of Noirhouse will be available exclusively on iView from 10am on Sunday, November 2nd.