Return to Eden
||This article reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry. (January 2014)|
|Return To Eden|
Return To Eden series title screen
|Format||Mini-series / Serial|
|Created by||Michael Laurence|
|Written by||Michael Laurence
|Directed by||John Power
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||Mini-series:
|Executive producer(s)||Hal McElroy|
|Production company(s)||Hanna Barbera
McElroy & McElroy
|Original channel||Network Ten|
|Picture format||1.33:1 (colour)|
27 September 1983
11 February 1986 – 8 July 1986
|Preceded by||Return to Eden A 1983 mini-series of the same name.|
Return to Eden is an Australian television drama series.
It originally starred Rebecca Gilling as Stephanie Harper/Tara Welles, James Reyne as Greg Marsden, Wendy Hughes as Jilly Stewart and James Smillie as Doctor Dan Marshall. It began as a three-part mini-series, shown on Network Ten in 1983.
The show returned as a weekly series, again starring Rebecca Gilling as Stephanie Harper and James Smillie as Doctor Dan Marshall, accompanied by Peta Toppano who took over the role of Jilly Stewart and Daniel Abineri as Jake Sanders. This programme was a twenty two part weekly television series, broadcast in 1986, but produced in 1985.
Return To Eden Mini-series synopsis
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2014)|
Stephanie Harper (Rebecca Gilling) is a dull, frumpy 40 year old heiress. Rich but insecure, and with two failed marriages behind her, she marries a handsome but unscrupulous younger man, tennis pro Greg Marsden (James Reyne). Stephanie believes that she has found true love, but prior to the wedding, Greg has been having an affair with Stephanie’s best friend Jilly Stewart (Wendy Hughes). Greg plots to get rid of Stephanie and lay claim to her fortune. During their honeymoon, Greg pushes Stephanie into a crocodile-infested swamp, and he and Jilly watch as she is apparently mauled to death by a crocodile.
However, Stephanie miraculously survives and is later found washed up on a river bank by hermit Dave Welles (Bill Kerr). Dave nurses Stephanie back to health, but her face and body are horrifically scarred from the encounter with the crocodile. Dave gives her precious gems (opals) that he has mined locally, so that she can use them to try to move on with her life. Stephanie sells the gems and goes to an island clinic where she meets Doctor Dan Marshall James Smillie, a brilliant plastic surgeon who uses his talents to repair her face and body. After months of operations and physical exercise, Stephanie has been transformed into a very beautiful woman. Using the new alias of Tara Welles, given to her by Dave, Stephanie returns to Sydney and becomes a glamorous supermodel. Using her new identity and fortune, she plots her revenge on Greg and Jilly for the torment and pain they put her through and also aims to take back what is rightfully hers. Especially her beloved family home Eden, a vast estate in the Northern Territory (shot on location at Jimbour). She is also torn at having to deceive her family and friends, especially her own children; that she is dead, but realises that she must discredit both Jilly Stewart and Greg Marsden, if she is ever to return home.
Mini Series Production
The mini series was shot in Sydney, the Darling Downs, the Barrier Reef and Arnhem Land. It had a budget of $2.5 million. The cinematography was by Dean Seimler.
Return To Eden Television series
Such was the enormous success of the mini-series that Return To Eden returned as a regular weekly series in 1986 with a budget of AUS$8 million.
The events of this sequel series take place seven years later after the events shown in the mini-series. Stephanie Harper is now married to Doctor Dan Marshall and living at "New Eden", a mansion in Sydney. Stephanie's children, Sarah and Dennis, both teenagers in the mini-series, are now young adults. The opening episode features Jilly's release from prison having served her time for the murder of Greg Marsden. We discover during a renovation of "Old Eden" a box is found inside a wall which contains Max Harper's last Will and Testament, which has a shocking revelation in it - Jilly Stewart is actually Stephanie's half sister.
Ongoing storylines dealt with Jilly's bitter jealousy and rivalry with Stephanie, as she wants to take everything which Stephanie owns. The most prominent storyline was Stephanie's continued attempts to keep control of the family company, Harper Mining, which ruthless businessman Jake Sanders Daniel Abineri was trying to take away from her. We discover later that Jake Sanders is Greg Marsden's brother. Jilly Stewart later teams up with Jake Sanders to take Harper Mining from Stephanie, in order to exact her revenge on her for the years she spent in jail.
Rebecca Gilling and James Smillie reprised their roles from the original mini-series, while Peta Toppano who had played Karen Travers in Prisoner: Cell Block H, now took over the role of Jilly Stewart, playing her as a glamorous, petulant, scheming "superbitch", much in the style of Dynasty's Alexis. English actor Daniel Abineri, played the villain Jake Sanders. Megan Williams played Cassie Jones, the love interest of Dennis Harper, Stephanie's son played by Peter Cousens. John Lee also briefly returned as Jilly's first husband Philip Stewart, as did Peter Gwynne who had briefly played Bill McMaster in the original mini-series.
The show was famous for it's outlandish plot twists and dramatic storylines. Crocodiles in the swimming pool, snakes in the breakfast tray and in the shower. Stephanie fakes her death again during the series run. Her daughter Sarah, Nicki Paull, is involved in a complicated love triangle between Tom McMaster the son of Harper Mining General Manager Bill McMaster, played by Warren Blondell and Angelo Vitale played by Angelo D'Angelo. Stephanies son Dennis Peter Cousens having a gambling addiction and embezzling money from Harper Mining as well as being quite vocal in his open distrust of Jilly Stewart, played by Peta Toppano with dramatic consequences.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2014)|
The final episode screened in Australia concluded with a cliffhanger ending in anticipation of a second season.
Closing scenes featured Dennis being knocked unconscious and kidnapped by an unseen assailant. Meanwhile, upstairs at Stephanie's mansion 'Eden' while a party went on downstairs, Jilly pulled a gun on Stephanie in yet another attempt to murder her. Jake attempted to wrest the gun from Jilly but the gun went off in the struggle, fatally wounding him and splattering Stephanie with his blood. Stephanie then grabbed the gun away from Jilly as Jake careened into the hallway, where Stephanie briefly held him. He careened down the hallway and then fell down the stairs, where he dies in full view of the shocked party guests. A horrified Stephanie, with blood on her face and clothes, still holding the gun in her hand, appears and stands at the head of the stairs. Jilly then appears and shouts after Jake, about to descend the stairs but when she sees Jake lying dead on the floor at the foot of the stairs she tells everyone that she just saw Stephanie shoot him.
The show's ratings had not been high enough to justify a renewal so this cliffhanger was never initially resolved for Australian audiences. In addition the show was also expensive to produce and this was also a factor in it's cancellation.
A few of the lead actors were later recalled, Rebecca Gilling, Peta Toppano and Peter Cousens. They were brought back to film a hasty five-minute conclusion to the various major unresolved story threads that was added to the end of the final episode. The reason that this was done was because the show would be turned down for syndication, by having a cliffhanger with no resolution, the show could not be re-sold abroad.
Amended Series ending
Dennis' abductor, revealed as his half-brother and Stephanie's long-lost son Chris (actor Graham Harvey), quickly abandons his plan to hold Dennis to ransom when he reveals Stephanie has been arrested for Jake's murder. Chris had in fact been following Stephanie. He was the guy who had been shown in brief tantalising hand & feet shots.
Chris had witnessed the shooting incident at 'Eden' from the bedroom balcony, and what's more had photographs that proved what had really happened. He quickly cleared Stephanie who was released, while Jilly was arrested for murder as she taunted her half sister Stephanie about her upcoming murder Trial.
This new ending was never seen in the original Australian run and only included in the version of the last episode that was sold internationally. Network 10 repeated the series twice in the 1990s and at least one screening contained the revised ending.
In the UK, Return To Eden was screened on ITV and was a huge ratings hit during the summer of 1986. The 1986 UK transmission also ended with the original cliffhanger, as did the 1989 repeat screening. However, the newer ending was screened many years later when the series was repeated on UK satellite television, primarily the now defunct Granada Plus, which showed it twice. It was shown again in the UK in 2010 by the satellite channel CBS Drama, which showed both the original 1983 mini-series and immediately followed this with the 1986 sequel series which included the revised ending. CBS Drama has shown both the mini series and the sequel series a few times over the years.
Although produced in 1985 but shown in 1986, the television series of Return to Eden was clearly intended as an Australian answer to the glamorous American "supersoaps" Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest, with the requisite ostentatious fashions, boardroom struggles, bedroom romps and outrageous storylines.[according to whom?] It is certainly a fair assessment to argue that Return to Eden successfully delivered all the stock soap pleasures with the Australian setting giving the show a certain ironic distance.
Both the original mini-series and the follow-up weekly series have been made available on DVD in Australia. Kaleidoscope Film has released the original 1983 mini-series as two "Region 0" discs. Unfortunately, even though the packaging states "Digitally Enhanced", the picture quality of the discs actually leaves a lot to be desired and is reproduced from many generations of copies down from the master. Bonus extras on the discs include interviews with Rebecca Gilling and James Reyne in 2001.
The 1985 series was released as a six disc set in Australia by MRA Entertainment. Although the picture quality is generally better than the mini-series, there is some tape distortion and interference on some of the episodes during the series. The episodes end on the newer 'zoom-in' Worldvision logo (present after the company was sold to Spelling Entertainment in 1988) except for the final episode which uses the original 'scroll' logo and is obviously the originally aired episode. This DVD boxset does not include the revised ending, leaving the last episode with the unresolved original cliffhanger.
The entire series (the mini-series and the sequel series) has also been released on DVD in the Netherlands in a 9-disc set. This release contains the revised ending, with the show complete, it is also "Region 0" and has English dialogue, so is viewable on a UK DVD player or recorder.
Khoon Bhari Maang
Return To Eden was remade in India as the 1988 film Khoon Bhari Maang. It was directed and produced by Rakesh Roshan. The film was a critical as well as box office success.
In 2012, the Nine Network announced it was planning to remake Return To Eden as a six-hour miniseries, however in March 2013 it was announced that the planned remake had been shelved for the time being due to financial reasons. This is ironic as financial reasons where a factor in the cancellation of the series of Return To Eden.
The CD tracklisting is as follows:
1. Main Titles/Return To Eden
2. The Return To Eden
3. Fire & Fight
4. Problem For Dan and Steff
5. Lord Of All
6. Big Business
7. Jilly's Crack-Up
8. Tara's Love Theme
9. Harper's Mansion
10. A Man Not A Boy
12. Croc Attack
13. Steff Meets Jake
14. Corporate Espionage
15. Greg Returns
16. Scheming Jilly
17. Angelo's Theme
18. Night Interludes
19. Closing Titles.
Notes about the CD: Track 1 is actually the feature-length opening theme of Return To Eden the series, used in the first episode. Although Track 19 is labelled "Closing Titles", it is actually the series' regular opening theme music.
- Greg Marsden - James Reyne (miniseries)
- Jilly Stewart - Wendy Hughes (miniseries)
- Dennis Harper - (Jayson Duncan aka Jay Duncan) (miniseries)
- Sarah Harper - (Nicole Pyner) (miniseries)
- Jilly Stewart - Peta Toppano (weekly series)
- Jake Sanders - Daniel Abineri (weekly series)
- Cassie Jones - Megan Williams (weekly series)
- Dennis Harper - Peter Cousens (weekly series)
- Sarah Harper - Nicki Paull (weekly series)
- Tom McMaster - Warren Blondell (weekly series)
- Angelo Vitale - Angelo D'Angelo (weekly series)
- Jessica Stewart - (Saskia Post)
- Johnno Ryan - (Keith Aberdein)
- Dave Welles - Bill Kerr
- Philip Stewart - John Lee
- Sheikh Ahmalh - Robin Ramsay
- Olive Down - (Suzanne Roylance)
- Joanna Randall - Olivia Hamnett
- Anton Pascal - (Rod Anderson)
- Rena McMaster - Wendy Playfair
- Princess Talitha - Tamasin Ramsay
- Katy Basklain - Patricia Kennedy