Streaming highlights August 20-26: Heels lays down the wrestling mat to brotherly drama

ON THE ROPES: Allen Maldonado stars as the flamboyant Rooster Robbins in Heels.

ON THE ROPES: Allen Maldonado stars as the flamboyant Rooster Robbins in Heels.



ANY pro wrestling devotee above the age of 10 knows the sport's entertainment is pre-determined, (don't mention the F-word around any serious fan).

The excellent A&E documentary series on SBS, which details the careers of the likes of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is proof the best stories in wrestling are often what occurs outside the ring. The politics, the lifestyle and terminology of wrestling is an unique world.

Heels attempts to infilrate that bizarre existence through the lens of a classic sibling rivalry story.

Jack Spade, played by Stephen Amell (Arrow) is the owner of a small provincial wrestling promotion in Georgia called Duffy Wrestling League (DWL), which he inherited from his late father. Jack is the top heel (wrestling parlance for bad guy) in DWL and his younger brother Ace (Alexander Ludwig) is the popular babyface (good guy).

Outside the ring, however, Jack is a committed family man who stresses over the script for matches, while Ace is the cocky pretty boy who bullies anyone that calls out his bad behaviour.

When a former DWL star turned talent scout for a national promotion comes to town to recruit Ace, it pits the brothers against each other inside and outside the squared circle.

Writer Michael Waldron (Rick and Morty) has an obvious appreciation for wrestling and does a fine job opening and explaining the world to viewers unfamiliar with the sport. The athletic in-ring sequences are also beautifully shot and provide a natural environment for the internal drama to play out.

However, some of the script is overly earnest.

Yes, we understand the Spades are feuding brothers, we don't need to be given ham-fisted Cain and Abel references.

Anyone interested in wrestling will naturally flock to Heels, but the feuding brothers story lacks the depth to continue far beyond the opening bell.

SHARP AND WITTY: Lane Factor plays Cheese is Reservation Dogs.

SHARP AND WITTY: Lane Factor plays Cheese is Reservation Dogs.



THE old teenage-kids-dreaming-of-leaving-their-hick-small-town formula has been done ad nauseum over the years, but Reservation Dogs finds an unique and intelligent angle to shed fresh light.

Reservation Dogs follows the exploits of four Native American teenagers living in their eastern Oklahoma reservation town. When we first meet Bear, Willie Jack, Cheese and Elora (named after the baby in '80s fantasy movie Willow) they're stealing a crisps delivery truck to save money to escape to California.

In between their criminal escapades they sell homemade meat pies outside the doctor's surgery and the boxes of crisps they've knocked off. However when a rival gang arrives in town attacking the group with paint ball guns and busting Bear's nose, they turn into vigilantes keen to protect their patch.

All four of the teenage cast are fantastic, but the supporting adult characters such as the incompetent policeman Officer Big and disillusioned GP Dr Kang add to Reservation Dogs' clever quirkiness.

However, the real star is the writing. New Zealand's Taika Waititi and Native American co-creator Sterlin Harjo have produced a sharp and witty script which keeps the tone light and entertaining while tackling racial disadvantage with respect.


This story Heels kicks open wrestling world first appeared on The Canberra Times.