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Home and Away “Welcome to Summer Bay”: Rewatching the early years.

Discussion in 'Australian & New Zealand Soaps' started by Mel O'Drama, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Episodes 359-364 (continued)


    One really satisfying thing to have come out of recent episodes was that, for once, there were consequences to all the characters going off and engaging in their soapy dramas when they should have been at work.

    While Bobby and Steven have sneaked off to rescue Viv and Tamar, Carly is off with Adam location hunting (at night) for a suitable place to shoot Image’s music video, only for the car to get bogged down. Adding insult to injury, Carly has taken the car without asking Tom or Pippa’s permission.

    Steven comes home alone - sent by Bobby while she carries out the rescue of Tamar, because he’s on a good behaviour bond. Tom and Pippa are a little suspicious, but more so when Ailsa - alone at the diner with neither Bobby nor Carly showing up - rings Pippa asking for help and mentions that Bobby was last seen going off with Steven:

    At the diner she talks it out further with Ailsa:
    [​IMG]

    Neither Adam and Carly getting marooned nor Bobby and Steven rescuing Viv was especially engaging (albeit the latter was at least enjoyably watchable), but the consequences of both happening on the same night are engaging, because it threatens the family values at the heart of the series. Most soap characters get to have their daily dramas and keep businesses running. But not so here.

    Tom presents Carly with a bill for $150 for the car being towed. And it’s the worst possible time for her. She’s walked out on Bobby only to find that the glamorous job she thought was in the pipeline with Nina has come to nothing. And when she takes her trouble to Pippa, the latter is in arse-kicking mode:
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    I do like kick-arse Pippa.

    Meanwhile, Celia hasn’t quite left yet. She has to visit her sister first:
    [​IMG]


    Suitably shaken up, Celia naturally takes Morag up on her offer:
    [​IMG]


    Cornelia and Fiona are always magic together. And this scene is no exception. I already miss Celia, since Morag spent #364 alternating between complaining that Marilyn had missed work for a photoshoot and - at the bottom of the barrel - mediating in an industrial strike held by Sally and a couple of her school friends whom Dodge was using as cheap labour to do Morag’s gardening.

    And that’s where this dullest episode comes in. #364 opens with a recap of Image showing off their terrible dance routine…
    [​IMG]
    …And unbelievably gets worse as it continues. There’s the child labour strike in which Morag and Dodge are completely wasted stuck in the middle of sub-Neighbours B-story pap; Then there's a lengthy montage of an Image photoshoot; Carly talking to Andrew; Carly talking to Adam; Andrew questioning Adam over his relationship with Carly (oh, my poor blood pressure); Carly talking to Adam again and Adam possibly asking her out. None of which I can bring myself to care about. It’s the pits.
     
  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Episodes 365-374



    The Fletchers are right back at the heart of the series and it has proved a very good thing. As I look back over the screen caps I’ve taken from the past ten episodes, I’m boggling at how much has happened even just within the family unit. But I’m also in awe that character hasn’t been lost. In fact there have been times when the story has been put aside to give the characters room to breathe and to simply be.

    From the vantage point of Episode 374, I look back and can see three defined parts to the conclusion of the Cuckoo In The Nest storyline. And each of those parts has a number of acts within that have involved a satisfying amount of conflict and resolution.

    Part I shines a light on the enmity between Dodge and Sally which goes back to Dodge’s very first scene back in #287. Things have been bubbling away for the entire duration of Dodge’s time at Summer Bay House and are brought to a head in the first couple of these ten episodes:
    [​IMG]

    Pippa, increasingly feeling that her decision to bring Dodge into the house was the wrong one, is unable to be objective and comes down firmly on Sally’s side:
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Sally later sneaks downstairs and overhears Tom and Pippa talking:
    [​IMG]


    Now, we know Dodge is a thug and a stirrer. And the family don’t know the half of it. But there’s no black and white here, and the way this plays out increases my sympathy towards him. There’s no mistaking the favouritism going on. Ironically, a couple of episodes before, it had been said that Sally was a little spoilt from getting things her own way. And while Tom and especially Pippa seem to have forgotten that (or more to the point, they’re feeling guilty for their viewpoint and are now overcompensating) the way these scenes are played implicitly suggest that they were right. Sally may be young, but I appreciate that she is written and played with flaws just like the older characters. There is, I would say, a degree of manipulation going on from her here. Sally is aware of Tom and Pippa’s guilt and she’s using it to keep the ball firmly in her court. Kate Richie seems to get that and, impressively, plays it with subtlety. Sally now knows Tom and Pippa are on side with her rather than Dodge. So when Tom wavers Sally plays her trump card:

    At the meeting, the schisms within the family continue to become apparent:
    [​IMG]


    Sally flips out and walks out when everyone starts to get angry. When she returns she blanks Tom, which immediately panics him:

    And Tom acts on Carly’s suggestion. Instantly.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    So Sally gets everything she’s dreamt of. And one could almost believe that she made it happen all by herself.







    continued...
     
  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Episodes 365-374 (...continued)


    Part II of the final act of the Cuckoo In The Nest saga is the happy families chapter. In the wake of Sally being more secure there is a settled, almost amicable feeling in the household. Pippa has broached the subject of Dodge and Sally has magnanimously said that while she’ll never like him “he can stay” (the tail is certainly wagging the dog there, methinks).

    Dodge thanks Tom for putting in a good word for him, to which Tom replies that he’s hoping Dodge won’t let him down. Then Pippa comes up and, still getting tingles from her female intuition, she is slightly less gracious:
    [​IMG]


    Dodge even goes so far as to pay a visit to Sally under a flag of truce:
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    With the two getting along now, Dodge takes it to the next level by asking Sally if she can help with his idea for Tom and Pippa’s impending wedding anniversary. In the meantime, he questions older characters about their memories of the Sixties and approaches a less than enthusiastic Ailsa and Bobby about using the diner:

    Knowing it’s for a good cause, Ailsa does an about face and does all she can. This even comes with a nod to one of the series’ first community gatherings:
    [​IMG]


    Another reference to the past comes in Episode 369 when Ailsa picks up the phone at the diner and tells Bobby it’s Narelle. Narelle is going skiing and asks Bobby to join her. Bobby turns it down, but Carly later rings Narelle to take her up on it. This causes no end of problems for her. Tom and Pippa are peeved that she’s kicking up her heels while still jobless (Carly’s response is that that’s exactly why she’s doing it as once she starts work she won’t be able to have a holiday for some time. Which is actually sound reasoning). And Bobby is unhappy that Carly is going to miss the surprise for Tom and Pippa’s anniversary. This gives us flashes of the old enmity between these two characters as well as showing that Carly is still a work in progress and, for all her growth, still prone to selfishness at times:
    [​IMG]


    The long and short of it is that Carly stays and plans are hatched to get Tom and Pippa to the diner while everyone pretends to be less than interested in the anniversary until they can surprise them:
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Now, family party scenes in soap can drag a little, but this is actually a really beautiful one. It’s fun to see the cast in costume. And engaging to see the entire current Fletcher brood together. The celebratory tone and Tom and Pippa’s speech accompanied by the Fletchers’ theme - one of my favourite TV pieces - puts one firmly in mind of Tom’s 40th birthday in the Pilot episode:
    [​IMG]


    I love how much time Episode 370 devoted to Tom and Pippa’s anniversary celebrations.. The preparations. The clothes. The speeches. And the presents. They’re given something Beatles related. Pippa is thrilled and says she’s wanted one for a long time. But I’m not sure what it actually is. It looks a little like a small notebook or passport cover. Stranger still it’s on top of a box inside a larger package.
    [​IMG]


    As treats for fans go, though, the children’s second present is the best. Hidden under a poster in the decorated diner is a framed photo from Tom and Pippa’s wedding, with some nice photoshopping going on.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    I love how Roger Oakley and Vanessa Downing manage to look delighted and embarrassed at the same time.
    [​IMG]


    Many might be tempted to gild the lily by having a big drama happen during the party. A huge reveal or bust up or something. I’m very grateful that the less is more approach has prevailed, because it’s just wonderful.

    The only thing that would have made the episode more perfect would be to see Frank or even Lynn drop by. But you can’t have everything.










    continued...
     
  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Episodes 365-374 (...continued)



    With so much goodwill, and smiles all round in the family, it’s almost easy to forget about the darkness just below the surface. But it’s not long in returning. Two short episodes later, Dodge has been on a drunken night out with a friend from the city. The worse for wear, he crosses paths with Adam who invites him to stay on his boat in a scene riddled with homoerotic subtext (well, maybe not riddled. But it’s there if you care to look.
    [​IMG]


    And it’s there that Dodge’s lack of inhibitions get the better of him, beginning Part III of this final chapter:
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Such is Dodge’s state that he can’t even remember what he’s said until he’s reminded the next morning:

    It’s a nice touch that Dodge has given the information to one of the few characters for whom the significance will be lost. Adam wasn’t around when the fire happened, nor for some time afterwards. And if someone’s told him about it, then it hasn’t resonated enough for him to put the pieces together. So other than Dodge, the only people aware of his faux pas are the viewers. And this creates a special sort of bond. One of secrets shared.

    Naturally, this development makes Adam a threat to Dodge, while Adam is unaware that he’s now on the hit list of someone he helped the night before. Reminding Dodge to act quickly, Adam almost says what happened while making conversation in front of Steven.

    So Dodge decides to destroy Adam’s reputation and new job in one fell swoop. Adam’s now working as caretaker at the school, and his situation is already precarious, and has been since his interview:


    This riles Adam enough to approach Morag, who is setting up a new law firm in Summer Bay. She’s only too happy to take on his case, with the agreement that he pays once he’s working. And he’s working very soon:

    So with Adam on probation, he’s an easy mark for Dodge who lifts the school VCR and plans to plant it in Adam’s store room. Except he’s caught by Donald, mid-episode.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Naturally, he comes up with a quick explanation about doing it to get money for Steven, but Donald won’t have any of it:

    Tom has gone away on business for a while in another of those temporary write-outs for the actors to do other things (Bobby’s also not around, Nicolle Dickson and Roger Oakley presumably both off promoting the series somewhere. Perhaps with Fiona Spence. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was the UK). So when Donald comes to the house, it’s for Pippa alone to deal with:
    [​IMG][​IMG]



    And while that’s going on, Steven and Adam are at the diner, with Adam confused about why Dodge would try to set him up:

    And as they go over it, red flags come up for Steven:
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Steven flies out of the diner towards Summer Bay House, where Pippa is also at a decisive turning point:

    Dodge flees and comes face to face with Steven, and they have that moment where Dodge thinks he’s saved until he realises Steven knows. Dodge runs and Steven gives pursuit, cornering Dodge in woodland:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    [​IMG][​IMG]














    continued...
     
  5. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Episodes 365-374 (...continued)


    Following on from the three tonally distinct parts to the Cuckoo In The Nest story, there’s an epilogue of sorts throughout the entire final episode.

    Steven, naturally, has Done The Right Thing by walking away without physically attacking Dodge.
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    He then gives the situation the post-mortem, wishing for the chance again so he can Do The Wrong Thing.

    Steven pays a visit to Andrew at his new therapy suite: Stacey’s flat. The poo brown windowless environment is enough to make anyone cry for help. Andrew should consider himself very lucky to have even that. He was evicted from his room behind the diner by Matt’s uncle, Rex Wilson after it came to light that clients were walking through the kitchen to get to the space (Rex is some sort of councillor). He then fumed with righteous anger on learning that it was, in fact, Morag who had reported him and put in a higher offer in order to set up her new law firm (“all I want to do is mind my own business and help kids”, he wailed without a hint of irony).
    [​IMG]

    Andrew being Andrew, he felt the most appropriate thing to do was to set up shop in the flat he’s sharing with Stacey. And why bother asking his flatmate? Stacey discovered the setup after seeing one of the posters he’s fly posted all over town. Clearly uncomfortable, she asked him to stop.
    [​IMG]

    And Andrew saw this as the starting point in a negotiation, demanding two weeks and getting one . “Thanks Stace”, he chirped insincerely as he flounced off to sniff out more kids (adding insult to injury he’s also had Stacey bringing coffees for his clients).

    And he’s taken to lurking in school corridors, listening to private conversations between kids and then using what he’s heard to try to entice kids to become his clients (Viv wisely gave him a very firm “no” and walked off).
    [​IMG]

    Anyway, Andrew listens to Steven’s problems while fidgeting away and touching his own face (Andrew would never survive Covid-19 with those mannerisms). The entire setup is there to give Steven some kind of redemption. A space for him to acknowledge that he hasn’t been behaving like himself. To purge himself and find himself. Which he does:
    He punishes himself by grabbing hold of the hot coffee pot Andrew has put in front of him:
    [​IMG]


    The tone for the entire episode is play-like. The two handed confrontation of darkness between Steven and Andrew even incorporates “flashbacks” to Steven’s perspective of conversations between him and Carly last year and this year. These are deliberately simplistic and work well.

    In between these scenes we cut to Dodge at the police station, where he is being questioned by a detective with a great line in patter:

    As the episode goes along, their conversation intensifies and Dodge becomes more trapped:

    The detective makes Dodge give an account of his background, which he does. Only to find the police are ahead of him:


    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    And that’s the last we see of the “real” Dodge in this era of the series. His real father, unseen, has identified him over the video cameras set up in the room, and Dodge is escorted off the scene by the detective’s silent, constantly chewing partner. At the end of his final outburst above, Dodge makes some terrific little yelping sounds, like a naughty puppy dog. And that’s how I’ll remember him.









    * According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Grafton Gaol hasn't housed maximum security prisoners since around 1945, some four and a half decades before these episodes. Perhaps the exaggeration was deliberate, in the same way that saying he would be charged with murder was an outright lie to coerce Dodge into confessing.



    continued...
     
  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Episodes 365-374 (...continued)


    Dodge’s initial exit isn’t the end of the episode. The next sequence - even more play like - sees Steven studying alone at night for his essay: The Fatal Flaw In Hamlet’s Character.

    As he considers the piece, he is visited by three “ghosts”. First Donald emerges from the darkness to tell him about Hamlet seeing the ghost of his father telling him the identity of his killer and asking him to avenge his death. Lest that be too subtle and not meta enough, Andrew is the next apparition, pointing out that Steven himself set out to avenge his uncle's death.
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Finally, Dodge himself joins the other two visions, telling Steven to join him and live for the moment, an offer Steven turns down.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The gist of it is that the vision of Donald says that Hamlet’s flaw was vacillation. Leaving it too late to act. While the ever wise Andrew vision points out that taking action isn’t always the best move, asking Steven to think where he’d be now if he’d acted.

    I can guess at how the technique of making characters appear and disappear works, and it’s not the last time we’ll see it during the episode. However it’s done, it’s incredibly effective. I can imagine this scene taking place on a theatre stage with lighting providing the effects.

    The next day, Steven presents his essay, concluding that Hamlet’s flaw was that he ended up being a murderer himself after giving in to pressure. And while the analogy is less than subtle, what better way to show Steven is back to his old self and has consciously worked through his troubles than to approach both through an area that has suffered in recent months: study.

    Indeed, it’s here in the classroom that Steven has his final vision of Dodge as the earlier technique is employed again, and a class full of students disappear, leaving the two alone in the room.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    Dodge fades away and Steven is now alone with the “real” Donald who says it’s good to see him on form again and shakes his hand. After Donald leaves, Steven looks back at the empty classroom and finds freedom.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Greg Haddrick’s writing makes #374 a very rich episode. It’s no secret that I’m going to struggle with any Andrew-heavy episode, as this was. But the voice that’s found makes this a satisfying route out of the Dodge era. It’s unexpected and experimental without feeling showy. The stage backgrounds of several actors shine through* and it strikes a great balance of being reflective and forward looking. Adam Willits, while lacking theatrical intensity, is well used and does a nice job with Steven’s role here. And more than anything, this episode is about Steven.


    Elsewhere, Pippa rips up the family photo with Dodge and looks wonderfully sad.

    Helping the episode out greatly, bland new young characters such as Viv and Adam are absent. And so are Lance, Martin and Marilyn whose new pop career is grating like a gratey thing. Although, I know @Willie Oleson will be delighted to see that Scott Smith, First A.D. of Image’s first music video in a recent episode is none other than Kevin Palmer.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    It’s a thankless one episode appearance, full of terrible SFX. But great to see him nonetheless.

    Oh, and the clapperboard for the video had the actual Australian air date which is a nice touch.
    [​IMG]

    Speaking of familiar soap faces, Steven’s also had a run-in with smart mouthed Bradley played by Simon Edward Stokes. When this aired in the UK in 1990, Simon would also have been appearing in Anglo-Aussie soap Families as the son of Number 96’s Briony Behets. This is apparently his second of three H&A appearances. His first one went completely under my radar:
    [​IMG]


    In other tedium, boring Viv has decided to rebel and Dodge helped her to plan a soaking for new Alison, Vicki Baxter. Which backfired when Donald also got wet:
    [​IMG]


    More references to the past in this last batch of episodes, with Bobby warning Adam off Carly:

    Which in turn gave Carly cause to contemplate both her past and her distant future:
    [​IMG][​IMG]





    * On theatrical lines, I’ve just discovered that Kelly Dingwall was understudy for Mark Ferguson - AKA Paul Sheppard - in a 1984 production of Torch Song Trilogy, which also starred Myra DeGroot and S&D scribe Tony Sheldon.
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    I don't know if I would like - or preferably, love - HOME AND AWAY, but I had planned to watch at least a few episodes.
    To taste the atmosphere, as it were.
    Easy-peasy, as I could simply cancel Amazon Prime DE and subscribe to UK's Am. Prime (incidentally, why is this so much more expensive?)
    But anway, I discovered that not all UK prime movies and series are available in my region.
    ??? It's not that I expect them to send the actors to my home and play the stories! (although that would be very my Home vs. their Away).

    So...no Cornelia and Judy Extra Time for me. *sigh*
     
  8. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Oh boo. Why on earth do they do this. What I don't get is that we're the same DVD region so why not make the same material available? I feel your frustration as I hate when this happens with films, TV shows and even music on Amazon and iTunes.

    For what it's worth, the full Pilot movie is available on the Home And Away Romances DVD. Might be worth a peek if you can bag a cheap copy.


    Now there's a logical next step on from super-duper High Definition 3D home cinemas. It may not fly during these times of social distance, but it definitely needs to happen soon.


    That's such a shame as both are terrific in this series. And they have some nice scenes together.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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