True to its page-turner roots, literary adaptation Chance twists and turns as a thrilling game of deception, seduction and violence plays out. Here’s why you’ll want to take a chance on Chance.
It’s Hitchcock meets Breaking Bad
A noir set in San Francisco about a man obsessed with a mysterious blonde woman is bound to raise the spectre of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Chance does just that, but with a modern, dark underbelly edge.
The creators of Chance, best-selling author Kem Nunn (who wrote the source novel) and Alexandra Cunningham (Aquarius, Desperate Housewives), along with Academy Award-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (Room) employ some of Hitchcock’s most famous tropes. Disillusioned forensic neuropsychiatrist Dr Eldon Chance (Hugh Laurie) is the ordinary man caught up in an extraordinary situation. Troubled Jaclyn Blackstone (Boardwalk Empire's Gretchen Mol) is the Hitchcockian blonde at the centre of the intrigue.
With his obsession with Jaclyn and psychological unravelling, Chance echoes Vertigo’s acrophobic detective, John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart). Likewise, Jaclyn who appears to have dissociative identity disorder and memory loss, could be a throwback to Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton (Kim Novak).
But there’s also more than a whiff of Breaking Bad's Walter White in Eldon Chance, who takes a sharp turn into a gritty world of vengeance. As he attempts to protect Jaclyn, who he fears is in mortal danger from her abusive husband, corrupt cop Raymond Blackstone (Paul Adelstein), the passive doctor becomes the aggressor.
Hugh Laurie plays a good bad doctor
As renegade as Laurie’s Dr Gregory House was, it’s hard to imagine him as a burgeoning vigilante with a moral code on its way to the basement. Initially unsure about getting involved in dirty tactics to take down Raymond, Chance is soon emboldened by his newfound outlet to take action. Perhaps Chance can finally help a troubled patient in Jaclyn when he feels he’s failed others in a broken system.
Enigmatic ex-military man D (Ethan Suplee) – because you only need a one-letter name when you’re a scary dude – becomes a kind of vigilante sensei to Chance, sparking and encouraging the mild doctor’s reckless behaviour as they join forces.
“I think Chance has a sort of immediate crush on D. I think D represents to him a sort of physical confidence, a physical certainty about life and how to navigate it, that Chance’s life has not brought him,” Laurie told Yahoo Entertainment. “I think Chance is all about doubt, and he sees this beacon of certainty and it’s incredibly attractive to him.”
Gretchen Mol is a femme fatale who’ll keep you guessing
Whether as indie queen or mainstream TV star, Gretchen Mol is a dab hand at playing complex, nuanced characters. In Chance, Mol’s performance matches the enigma of her character. Is Jaclyn in trouble or she manipulating Chance? Is she really suffering from dissociative identity disorder?
“You really couldn't tell what she was thinking, and it was definitely a puzzle that I would have to take charge of,” Mol told InStyle. “Even at the end of the book, you don't have all of the answers about this woman. And that’s what I liked about her – that I could sort of take it on my own, and fill in all the blanks and spaces in between.”
“I suppose what he sees is just enigma,” Laurie says of Chance’s obsession with Jaclyn. “He cannot figure her out, and I hope the audience will have the same sort of response. Is she for real? Is she genuinely the damaged creature who’s coming to him for help or is she a sort of figment of his rather fevered imagination? How much of this is he imposing on her through his own fantasies of rescuing someone from the clutches of the monster?”
Ethan Suplee is the bad ass you wish you could be
When Eldon Chance walks in to an antiques store, he gets way more than he bargained for. There he meets D, the shop’s blacksmith, a quietly spoken bear of a man with an unwavering ethos that justice should be achieved and at any price.
Not only can D make you want to bolt the other way with his imposing physique and deeply unsettling demeanour, he hones a mean tomahawk blade and is a master of Filipino martial arts.
“The fight scenes have been really interesting. I, in my life, trained in Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu, and this is a whole other thing,” Suplee told Entertainment Weekly. “[My character D] is very advanced in a discipline called Kali, which comes from the Philippines, and has very non-linear striking and movement. It’s a lot of strikes to the neck and to the body.”
Suplee, best known as the dim and lovable (and fabulously named) Randy Hickey in My Name Is Earl, is a revelation as D. Utterly compelling, he threatens to steal every scene he’s in.
Watch Chance on Thursdays at 9:30pm on SBS. You can keep up with it from episode one at SBS On Demand: