DVD review: “Outrageous Fortune” (2005 – 2010)

“Outrageous Fortune” (2005 – 2010)



107 Episodes

Created by: James Griffin & Rachel Lang

Featuring:   Robyn Malcolm, Antony Starr, Siobhan Marshall, Antonia Prebble, Frank Whitten, Kirk Torrance and Grant Bowler

Munter: “Yeah, it was float like a butterfly, sting like a wasp.” 

Eric: “Bee.” 

Munter: “What?”

Eric: “Nah, the saying goes ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.'” 

Munter: “How do you know how it goes? I only just made it up.”

Believe it or not there was a time when any kind of drama that was about New Zealanders that would or could air on New Zealand television was unthinkable unless it was a soap in the vein of Shortland Street (1992 – present) or going back further Close to Home (1975 – 1983). So it is amazing that after many television embarrassments as well as failures a show like “Outrageous Fortune ” (2005 – 2010) not only found a home but also was successful and well reviewed.

This is not a great reflection on New Zealand at all with a mostly white cast, very low rent characters which are all played for laughs as well as the treatment of women and minorities, it is made for people that are listeners of sports talk radio or people who have no interest in seeing past their own class, gender or culture.

The series followed the lives of the West family, headed by Cheryl (Robyn Malcolm) and Wolf West (Grant Bowler). The family relied on crime for an income, with Cheryl working at a stolen goods shop. When Wolf is incarcerated, Cheryl informs her family, Van (Antony Starr), Jethro (Antony Starr), Pascalle(Siobhan Marshall), Loretta (Antonia Prebble) and Ted (Frank Whitten) that they will obey the law and play it straight.

Season one (2005)

When career criminal Wolf West is jailed for four years for assorted criminal acts, his wife Cheryl makes the decision that the family will get honest employment, instead of continuing their life of crime. Wolf is not pleased about this, but there’s not much he can do from jail. Cheryl is initially disillusioned by her attempts at earning a legal living, but she and a couple of her friends start a business called “Hoochie Mama” making and selling sexy underwear, all the while resisting the newly found attraction of policeman Wayne Judd. The West children Jethro, Van, Pascalle and Loretta all struggle to cope with the new-found rules in their own ways, while Ted struggles to come to terms with his late wife.

Season two (2006)

In season two, Wolf has been released on home detention. He has no intention of keeping to Cheryl’s new rules on life. Judd is determined to tear him away from Cheryl, and attempts to entice Wolf to break his parole so that he is returned to prison. Wolf escapes home detention and Judd moves in, much to the horror of the children. Pascalle starts to date Pakistani doctor Bruce, Van finds the love of his life Aurora and Loretta starts to date much older man Hayden. Jethro shocks his mother when he reveals he is still a criminal and only doing law to learn how to break the law more successfully. The season ends on Wolf framing Judd for a robbery he committed.

Outrageous Fortune: The Movie

This one-off two-hour TV movie followed on from season 2.

The West family, as well as Aurora, Eric and Munter go camping at Tutaekuri Bay, a magical place where they have gone camping every year at Christmas. Tutaekuri means “dog shit” in Māori and is a fictional place for the purpose of the movie.

Season three (2007)

The third Season sees Cheryl still battling to keep her family on the straight and narrow. Both the men in her life are inside – Wolf after turning himself in to the cops as part of his master plan to frame Judd; Judd from being framed by Wolf. She borrows money from Gary Savage to pay for a better lawyer for Judd, which results in his release but the debt causes a strain in their relationship. Aurora dies in a road accident while trying to hide her ex-boyfriend’s drugs after Van called the police on him, spiraling Van into depression. Loretta is outraged when Hayden edits their film to be more explicit for commercial gain, breaks up with him as punishment, and harasses him after he flatly accepts it instead of trying to win her back. This escalates until he leaves, and she burns down his house. After Hayden has left, she discovers she is pregnant by him. Bruce breaks up with Pascalle after he sees her (edited to be more explicit than she actually performed) porn movie. Jethro finds love in Danielle, a single mother and ex-wife of Gary. Ted becomes suspicious of Gary and tracks down Wolf, only to find Gary is Wolf’s half brother. Over the season Munter develops a relationship with Kasey and marries her in the final episode.

Season four (2008)

The family is brought together when Cheryl talks Loretta out of adopting out her baby, whom she names Jane. Cheryl having broken up with Judd, starts to have feelings for Wolf again, who is in a rocky relationship with the much younger ex-stripper named Sheree. Sheree’s dodgy brother Nicky arrives and stars a relationship with Loretta. Pascalle returns from a trip abroad, having married the wealthy Milt. Milt eventually dies, leaving Pascalle a fortune. Sheree and Nicky conspire to get access to her money by having Nicky break up with Loretta and start a relationship with Pascalle. Wolf attempts to earn some money by facilitating a shipment of drugs for Nicky in a container, which Jethro steals to ransom, but Van and Munter destroy the drugs. Jethro is forced to run away when he takes the blame for the drugs being destroyed. Van starts an affair with Sheree. Loretta and Jethro set Wolf up for burglary and Cheryl returns to Judd, becoming pregnant. Sheree also becomes pregnant, either to Van, Wolf or Jethro (it is strongly implied that it is Jethro, but not confirmed). After Hayden’s sister finds out about baby Jane, she forced Hayden to return to care for his child. Ted courts and at the end of the season, marries the scheming Ngaire. Pascalle becomes engaged to the dodgy Nicky much to her family’s disbelief.

Season five (2009)

Zane Gerard (Charles Mesure) fires three shots at Cheryl and Pascalle after being stabbed in the neck by Cheryl. New policemen Zane Gerard becomes a fixture in the West’s lives, due to his past involvement with Sheree and Nicky Greegan. Van is pressured into becoming a police informant (behind the backs of all), infuriating Sheree when she finds out. Jethro starts up a business selling legal party pills. Nicky truly falls for Pascalle, enraging Sheree who makes off with Pascalle’s millions and attempts to murder Van (to claim life insurance). After a rogue job robbing a Chinese money lender, Pascalle breaks up with Nicky. Loretta gets back together with Hayden and the two decide to marry as so they get custody of Jane. Ted ends up in prison for robbery and is helped out by Nicky, causing him and Pascalle to get back together. Near the end of the season, Cheryl has a stillbirth. The season ends with Gerard trying to arrest Pascalle for offensive language, resulting in a brawl (in the midst of Loretta and Hayden’s wedding), only to be stabbed in the neck by Cheryl and turning round to fire three bullets in her direction.

Season six (2010)

In the aftermath of Loretta and Hayden’s wedding, it is revealed that; Pascalle takes a bullet, but survives, Cheryl is arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, Munter, Kasey, Van and Ted are arrested for various crimes, and Eric, who returned in the last series, has taken residence in the Wests’ home. Over the course of the first episode, Officer Zane Gerard dies, leaving Cheryl to be charged with murder. Van starts to see his lawyer Bailey, only to learn she is dating Jethro. Loretta opens up a brothel while Nicky escapes prison and tries to take Pascalle with him. The two break up and Sheree reveals where her children are, with Van becoming a part-time father to them. Judd and Pascalle develop feelings for each other and start an affair, disgusting Ted. Cheryl’s charges are dropped and she is devastated to learn about Judd, finally forgiving him in the season finale. Pascalle and Judd leave, while Van marries the Russian Elena. Loretta, Hayden and Jane continue to be a happy family and Jethro fulfills his mother fixation.

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