Conspiracy 365 is a cool new Australian TV show based on the books of the same title by author Gabrielle Lord. The show's quite nicely shot, and the acting isn't bad, either; it's got a couple of big names attached, as well as some previous unknowns who do quite well.
The show's a bit choppy at the beginning, flipping between dates with a little too much regularity, but we suppose it was mandatory to set the scene within the space of about two minutes, right? The prologue features the main character, Callum Ormond (hereafter known as "Cal"), being hauled around by baddies who want information -- and when he can't tell them anything, they throw him into a vat of oil. Promising beginning!
The show then jumps back three months earlier, when Cal's learning how to fly planes with his dad. His dad goes off to Ireland, and incidentally learns about a "mysterious bequest" called the "Ormond singularity" while he's there reporting on "an Irish-Australian ancestry congress". We flip to the perspective of Oriana (Julia Zemiro), who's telling her brother that she's going to trace their Irish roots, and wants to go to the congress. While she's there, she hears the presenter telling Ormond that his family has a hidden fortune dating back to the Elizabethan era.
It's suddenly one month later, and Cal's dad is in hospital, unable to speak, but able to draw strange pictures (Pictionary, anyone?), including one of Cal holding what looks like a teacup.
(We think he's actually holding a rose, if you really want to know the unfunny truth.)
It then flips back to the mysterious Oriana, and then to the oil-throwing man from the prologue, who are both saying to their various henchmen that Cal is the "next in line".
We make the leap to 1 January, which starts off with Cal's father's funeral. An escaped mental patient (they roam the streets, didn't you know this?) runs up to Cal and says that the same people who killed his father will kill him; Cal must stay alive until 31 December. Which (gasp) gives him 365 days to remain alive!
Hence the name of the show.
On returning home from the funeral, the Ormonds find that they've been robbed; the stolen item was taken from a suitcase that the father sent home from Ireland, but which they were too sad to open previously. So, inconveniently, they don't know what was stolen.
Inside the suitcase, Cal finds a clear sheet with G and K written on it.
(Who even uses projector sheets anymore? Grandma?)
Cal reads a postcard his father sent him from Ireland, which details his suspicions that the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" actually belongs to the Ormonds.
A few days later, a letter arrives for Cal, but his Uncle Rafe, whom Cal and his father both disliked -- and he does look pretty creepy (ie, he looks just like Cal's father, except with sinister-looking glasses) -- intercepts it. Later on, Cal and his friend sneak over to Rafe's house to get it back.
Cal gets sidetracked by a gun in Rafe's closet. He loads the gun and plays with it, stupidly getting his fingerprints all over it. And then he steals it! Naughty naughty.
Cal gets a phone call from a nurse at the hospice where his father died. She says that she mailed his father's drawings to him -- in the envelope that Rafe took. Rafe's icky, you guys.
Cal goes off to the park to meet the nurse, who says that she also has a USB stick that belonged to his father, but on the way there he gets a bag shoved on his head and is dragged into a car. God, you can't take this kid anywhere, he just gets kidnapped.
On a brief sidenote, we're finding it hard to believe that this is set in January; he goes off to meet the nurse at about 7.45pm, but it's pitch black outside! Plus, everyone's wearing jeans and hoodies. Nice try, filmmakers. Nice try.
It turns out that evil Oriana was the one who had him kidnapped, and she doesn't believe him when he can't tell her anything about the Ormond Singularity. All he can see from underneath the sack on his head are some fugly cowboy boots on a man, and Oriana's pair of strangely cool orange, red and black shoes.
She also asks whether he knows about the jewel and the riddle. When he says no, the men inject something into his leg. A tracking device, perhaps? A slow-acting poison? Oh, the possibilities.
When Cal wakes up, he's in a dark room, luckily not tied up or at all guarded, and he escapes by climbing the walls to a skylight, making a lot of noise while doing so. He manages to leave the mansion and flag down a bus -- but then the camera shows Oriana and her cowboy-boot-wearing male cohort, and both are looking triumphant that Cal has escaped. "This plan had better work," she says grimly.
Cal arrives home, and tells his little sister Gabbi all about what happened to him, we guess because he wants to scare her? Anyway, they talk about the Ormond Singularity, and his sis gives him a ring that belonged to their father (no, we don't know why she had it).
The next morning, his mum's having a whine about the fact that Cal's father emptied their mortgage account while he was in Ireland. Awkward!
Cal hangs out with his friend, whose name we still don't know because they keep slurring it. His friend suggests that perhaps the nurse set him up, which is probably an intelligent suggestion. What kind of a nurse would ask a teenage boy to meet her in a park at 8pm? And she was the only one who knew where he was going. Evil nurse!
Either that, or the baddies are monitoring Cal's mobile phone.
Uncle Rafe rings, and Cal agrees to trade something that Rafe wants (the gun, which he's craftily "hidden" in his wardrobe, and which Rafe has already found) for something that Cal wants (the drawings from the hospice, which Rafe really doesn't seem to care about). Cal arrives home and grabs the drawings off the table, but then finds that Rafe's been shot in the chest and his sister has been knocked out. He calls an ambulance, hears a noise and looks upstairs. There are two men in balaclavas up there, who chase him outside.
The men chase after him in their car, which is a done-up WRX (because anyone with a modified car is eeeeeevil!). Cal escapes by hiding underneath a building at his school, but his friend rings (in a Mean Girls-style split-screen phone call, which is kind of awesome) and warns him that the police think Cal was the shooter, because he was stupid enough to get his fingerprints on the gun. Duh, that's like CSI basics, Cal. The neighbours also saw him running away from the crime scene covered in blood, but were too stupid to notice the guy chasing after him and the car trying to run him over. Oh, neighbours. When will they learn?
The robbers report back to oil-throwing man, who's about to take his daughter to the ballet (we're guessing that this daughter ends up being some sort of love interest for Cal; she seems the type to weave tangled webs).
Oil thrower makes some flimsy excuse to his daughter about discussing business with the two guys who are obviously nothing other than thugs, and then tears them a new one about letting Cal get away and hurting Cal's uncle and sister. They show him that they managed to steal the postcard, however, and he then shows them the Ormond jewel, which he says they stole from the Ormond house in the first robbery, but he whines that it's useless without the riddle, because they're "a set".
Meanwhile, Gabbi's getting operated on, and Cal turns up briefly but runs away when the police yell out to him, because it's mandatory for teenagers to not take help from police in these kinds of stories.
His friend helps him hide at the top of a building or something, we don't know. It doesn't really explain where they are. Cal spends his time moping around and watching old videos of his dad on his iPhone (which can't be the 4S, because it seems to have an everlasting battery), having flashbacks from earlier on in the episode and drawing huge versions of his father's pictures on the walls.
Hey, here's a thought: instead of drawing cryptic pictures, why didn't his father just write it all down?
The scene flips to 24 January, and Cal is wandering the streets, wearing a pair of heavily disguising sunglasses as he walks right past a poster of himself that says "psycho kid" on it. Yeah, because the papers would really print that.
In a bar, we witness Oriana's cowboy-boot-wearing brother meet up with one of the thugs that chased Cal in the car. Car-chasing thug asks for his $5000 from cowboy-boot thug, but the latter whinges that he hasn't got it.
But wait! Cowboy-boot thug (whose name is Kelvin, apparently) tells car-chasing thug (Bruno, apparently) that his sister, Oriana, is tracking "the psycho kid". Bruno reports this back to his boss (the one with the daughter who likes ballet), who is playing a boxing game on his Kinect, which is just so cool, you know. He approves of the plan, and with that, our baddies join forces. And we finally know their names!
Back on his midnight wander, Cal comes across a guy being beaten up by two other guys. He interferes and pretends to call the cops, so the guys run away. But who's this mysterious man being beaten up? Why, none other than the dreaded Kelvin! Dun dun duuun.
Luckily, Cal recognises Kelvin's gross cowboy boots, and he legs it. For some reason, Kelvin lets him get away.
Cal figures out that one of his father's drawings (the one with a waiter holding an ace and a jack) means that he has to find "a waiter called Blackjack". His friend (Bose? Boges?) visits, and tells Cal that Gabbi's still in an induced coma, and that their house is up for sale. He sneaks into his house and awkwardly runs into his mum there. She doesn't believe his story, especially the bit about being kidnapped. What a biatch!
On 31 January, we see that Kelvin has indeed been tracking Cal, on a cool, Pacman-lookin' map. (On his iPad, no less.)
Kelvin tells Bruno (and thus the audience) over the phone that Cal's been hanging out in an abandoned factory. (How convenient are those abandoned factories!) Hence, Bruno captures Cal and drags him back to the oil-throwing, ballet-loving-daughter-owning kingpin.
When Cal can't tell him anything about the riddle etc, as outlined above, he gets dragged off and thrown into the aforementioned oil vat.
Quite an eventful January! We hope you had a better one than Cal did.
Deaths: 1 (Ormond father; cause unknown)
Wounded: 4 (Rafe Ormond shot in chest; Gabbi Ormond hit on head; Kelvin De La Force beaten up; Cal Ormond injected in leg and thrown in vat of oil)