When Alex (Tim Watts) returns home to the small country town of Durran for the funeral of of his ex-girlfriend (Caris Eves), he soon discovers that her death may not have been accidental. Luckily for him, his oyunger brother, the alienated and nerdy Devon (Sam Campbell) runs a cell of anarchist hackers out of their mum’s spare room, including tech guru Peng (Trystan Go) and the violent, anarchic Tess (Adriane Daff). Can the nascent underground revolutionaries solve the mystery?
As a comedy, Small Town Hackers spreads a wide net, ripping strips off of small town mysteries ala Twin Peaks and Riverdale, hacker culture and hacktivism in particular, and teen alienation in general. It’s a good time, mainly down to the efforts of Sydney comedian Campbell as the ambitious, frustrated and generally hopeless Devon, who wants to be a feared cyberterrorist but can’t seem to get over the obvious wounds a lifetime of being picked on and put upon have dealt him. Other characters haven’t really snapped into focus yet but will hopefully get some spotlight time going forward, although Luke Hewitt clearly enjoys himself as the local cop, who also happens to be Alex and Devon’s mum’s new boyfriend.
In terms of style, the show takes a scattershot approach – genre parody is its main game, but its not afraid to grab for any laugh that’s close to hand. This makes it a little tonally uneven as non sequiturs get thrown at the audience, but it also means you’ll be smiling or laughing more often than not
Small Town Hackers screams potential, but it’s a little hampered by its format – this feels like a full half hour pilot chopped into six segments, not six discrete episodes building to a climax. Still, it does lay out the scenario and promises some interesting developments down the track – hopefully we’ll be getting a second series sooner rather than later.