Pacific Drive

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Pacific Drive
Genre Soap opera
Starring Grant Bowler
Simone Buchanan
Mark Constable
Les Hill
Andre Eikmeier
Rebekah Elmaloglou
Olivia Hamnett (1997)
Rowena Wallace (1996)
Steve J. Harman
Virginia Hey
Darrin Klimek
Peter Kowitz
Adrian Lee
Joss McWilliam Lloyd Morris
Kate Raison
Danielle Spencer
Christine Stephen-Daly
Mouche Phillips
Libby Tanner
Erik Thomson
Melissa Tkautz
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 390
Production
Running time 60 minutes
Distributor Village Roadshow
New World International
Release
Original network Nine Network
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Stereo
Original release 29 January 1996 – November 2001

Pacific Drive is an Australian television series made by Village Roadshow in association with New World International for the Nine Network which screened from 29 January 1996 to December 1997 before bouncing around in a late night timeslot for years. It was also repeated (and edited to tone down its racier overtones) for a daytime slot on Nine while they lobbied (unsuccessfully) to the Australian Broadcasting Authority for a daytime drama to count towards their local drama quota points.

Despite getting 1.7 million viewers for its first episode at 9.30pm, within a few weeks the show was getting just 135,000 viewers in its regular 11pm timeslot. Most critics described it as rubbish but some changed their minds during the show's second season. 'The Sydney Morning Herald said it was "immeasurably improved in looks, acing and writing" while The Sunday Telegraph named it one of the 10 Best Shows on TV for 1997. The "final" episode was screened on 6 April 2000 before Nine realised a mistake had been made (when the first three episodes had been edited down into a punchier one hour premiere) so they eventually screened the last ever episode a year later as a one-off send-off. Had it aired without interruption, it would have taken just 18 months to complete its run instead of five years.

The series was conceived as a flamboyant, melodramatic soap opera and dealt with the lives of wealthy Australians living on the Gold Coast. Although criticised for being an Australian copy of the American soap opera Melrose Place, its outrageous storylines – including corporate scheming, various affairs, serial killers and a lesbian love triangle (the first on a TV soap) – saw the series gain a cult reputation.

In the UK, the show was purchased by the then new TV station, Sky 2 and paired with Melrose Place. The show did not rate very well and when the TV station itself began to flounder, they moved all their high profile shows back to Sky 1, the show was put onto double showings Friday and Saturdays and ended its run just before the station closed.

The soap opera opened with the murder of Sonia Kingsley and introduced all the characters via her murder investigation (the 4WD killer turned out to be her secret lover Adam). Daughter Amber Kingsley came to town and married her stepfather Trey in a bid to get her mother's fortune which was based around a radio station. But her bitchy ways pushed Trey over the edge and he snapped and became a serial killer, eventually murdering Callie, Sondra, Nick, Cameron and his sister-in-law Georgina. He was arrested while holding Amber hostage but was found innocent after faking multiple personalities and escaped the Drive with Bethany, only to electrocute himself while trying to drown her.

Pacific Drive was the first Australian drama to get its own website and the feedback from fans revealed that they loved some characters and loved to hate some others. One who didn't get a mention either way was Laura so writer Bevan Lee did a lookalike story but avoided the twin cliche. When doppelgänger Anna came to town coveting Laura's life (and her fiancé Luke who had been revealed to be Sonia's secret son and therefore another Kingsley heir), Simone Buchanan took turns playing both roles while her former Hey Dad..! co-star Sarah Monahan played her double in two-shots. Luke went in search of his real father, Bill Garland, but he killed himself when it was revealed he had been molesting his daughter Liza who died of an ecstasy overdose in Joel's nightclub.

When Rowena Wallace accidentally overdosed, scripts were hastily re-written for Mara's gay theatrical friend Marcus to continue her scheming. After she returned to the show but in need of more medical care, Mara was hit by a car and woke up with amnesia, now being played by Olivia Hamnett

Amongst all the bed-hopping, Zoe was the most active but only after she came out as a lesbian. Her girlfriends included Margaux, Dior, Sondra, Kay and Gemma before she fell pregnant and married Tim to keep him in the country (with TV Soap remarking that a lesbian and a prostitute marrying must be Australian TV's most bizarre wedding ever). The show's other great legacy amongst its many gay fans was Bethany learning she was HIV positive but when Nine changed the show's direction (preferring to screen it in daytime rather than late night), Bethany remarked how her combination therapies were working and Zoe settled down to wedded bliss with Tim, thereby bringing all edgy stories to an end.

The show ended with Bethany calling off her marriage to Grant when his newly recovered mother Mara began to interfere again. Anna, caught faking a pregnancy to Luke, told Dr Josh she was in love with him and promised she would try to curb her crazy tendencies. Tim died when fell foul of a drug sting gone wrong and Zoe told Martin she would never forgive him for organising the police operation. Amber quit her corporate lifestyle and drove in search of Brett, the former gigolo who had been married to her aunt whom she now realised was the love of her life.

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