SeaChange

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SeaChange
Created by Andrew Knight (scriptwriter)
Deborah Cox (scriptwriter)
Starring Sigrid Thornton
David Wenham
William McInnes
John Howard
Tom Long
Kerry Armstrong
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 39 (list of episodes)
Release
Original network ABC
Original release 10 May 1998 – 9 December 2000

SeaChange was a popular Australian television show that ran for 39 episodes from 1998 to 2000 on the ABC. It was created by Andrew Knight and Deborah Cox and starred Sigrid Thornton, David Wenham, William McInnes, John Howard, Tom Long, and Kerry Armstrong. The director was Michael Carson.

Laura Gibson (Sigrid Thornton), a high-flying city lawyer, is prompted to undergo a 'seachange' with her children Rupert and Miranda after her husband is arrested for fraud and is found to have had an affair with her sister. Laura becomes the magistrate for the small coastal town of Pearl Bay. With its many colourful characters, the town is isolated from the rest of the world since the local bridge was destroyed in one of the natural disasters common to Pearl Bay. Although they initially miss the city, the family comes to love the town and its people and spend more quality time with each other.

Cast[edit]

Starring:

  • Sigrid Thornton as Laura Gibson
  • David Wenham as Daniel Della Bosca ('Diver Dan') [episodes 1 - 15] : Diver Dan owns the local cafe/boat-shed. He is a quirky, red-headed fisherman who soon becomes Laura's love interest.
  • William McInnes as Max Connors [episodes 16 - 39]: A foreign correspondent who comes back to his hometown to enjoy the final days of his wife Elana's life there. She dies shortly after his arrival. Laura befriends him and romantic tensions quickly develop.
  • John Howard as Bob Jelly: The Mayor of Pearl Bay and local real estate agent, Bob has a reputation for sneaky and often illegal business deals which usually backfire.
  • Kerry Armstrong as Heather Jelly: Bob Jelly's loyal, affectionate wife. Armstrong proposed a change to the dynamic of the Jelly family, suggesting that they should love each other even if the rest of the town despised them.[1]

Featuring[edit]

In alphabetical order:

  • Bruce Alexander as Sergeant Graham Grey
  • Kate Atkinson as Karen Miller
  • Alan Cassell as Harold Fitzwalter: Harold is the ex-Magistrate in Pearl Bay and is Meredith's lover. Together they had a child who they gave up for adoption. Later in the series they discover their daughter lives in Pearl Bay, and is a well-known figure in the town.
  • Paul English as Jack Gibson [episodes 1 - 13]
  • Patrick Dickson as Jack Gibson [episode 14+]
  • Jill Forster as Meredith Monahan: Meredith runs the town's hotel and restaurant. She is locally renowned for her excellent memory of faces, names, dates, times and events, even decades later.
  • Alice Garner as Carmen 'Lois Lane' Blake [episodes 3 - 13, 18 - 30, 39]
  • Kevin Harrington as Kevin Findlay
  • Tom Long as Angus Kabiri
  • Christopher Lyons as Trevor Findlay
  • Cassandra Magrath as Miranda Gibson
  • Kane McNay as Rupert Gibson
  • Georgina Naidu as Phrani Gupta
  • Cameron Nugent as Craig Jelly
  • Bryony Price as Jules Jelly
  • Brett Swain as Griff

Plot[edit]

Series 1[edit]

In the opening episode, "Something Rich and Strange", we are introduced to Laura Gibson, a high-flying corporate lawyer. In one day, her life falls apart: she loses out on a partnership at work, and discovers that her husband has been arrested for fraud and that her sister Trudi (Fiona Corke) is having an affair with him. On a whim, she takes a job as a magistrate in the small seaside town of Pearl Bay, where she once had a holiday with her family during happier times.

In Pearl Bay, she meets a cast of colourful characters: Meredith Monahan, the woman who can remember every single event that has happened in town during her lifetime; Meredith's longtime lover and town lawyer/drunk, Harold; strapping surfer and court clerk Angus; his girlfriend (and would-be fiancee), police officer Karen; her superior Sergeant Grey; unsophisticated caravan park manager and handyman, Kevin; Kevin's son Trevor; clever Indian shop-keeper Phrani, later to be Kevin's lover; local layabout Griff; Meredith's niece, the wandering Carmen; corrupt and scheming real estate agent and shire President Bob Jelly; his loyal trophy wife Heather; and their children Jules and Craig.

While Laura's children, Rupert and Miranda, struggle to get used to their new life, Laura attempts to fit in, despite their run-down house and the eccentric court cases. Both helping and hindering her is Diver Dan, the enigmatic cafe owner/ferryman/chef with no ambition but a curious and colourful past, with whom she soon strikes up a relationship.

The first series ends with a series of climaxes involving Carmen's pregnancy, the discovery of Meredith and Harold's long-lost daughter; and a turning point in Laura and Dan's relationship.

After a successful first series of 13 episodes, the ABC asked for more.

Series 2[edit]

David Wenham opted not to renew his contract, so, two episodes into the second series, Diver Dan leaves Pearl Bay for the Galapagos Islands. In his place comes old friend Max Connors and wife Elena (Doris Younane). Max has much to deal with, having left the town years earlier and leaving his family. His wife's sudden death stuns the town. Storm damage in the aftermath of the first series means that Pearl Bay goes through serious trauma and things only get worse. Alison Whyte guest stars as a con artist who gets the better of Bob, and of the whole town. Heather bonds with her parents. Rupert's determination to get Laura back together with her ex-husband only meets with disaster. Later in the series, the town begins to specualte about Max and Laura's relationship, and the resulting confusion brings them closer.

Bucket's dog Alfonzo Dominico Jones dies mysteriously and eventually a swimming pool is named after him, in preference to the originally planned name, the 'Jelly Baby Bath', named after Pearl Bay's aforementioned mayor.

The ABC then commissioned a third series.

Series 3[edit]

In the third series, the events of the show reach their climax. Laura decides not to take the step in her relationship with Max, propelling a despondent Max into Carmen's arms. An in-denial Laura turns to the sweet but dull Warwick (Shaun Micallef). Heather and Bob's separation is followed by his political demise. Meredith's health takes a turn for the worse. Mark Mitchell guest stars as Morton Tregonning, administrator for the recently sacked Port Deakin council, and his corruption pushes Bob to a decision: and he must choose whether to help the people of Pearl Bay, or ruin them once and for all.

The final episode, "Half-Life" (Episode 39), sees the town coming together to stop Tregonning's nuclear waste dumping, Miranda and Craig on trial, Laura's resignation, Karen and Angus' wedding, Meredith facing a life-and-death situation, Bob making a final decision about his future, and Max and Laura's relationship resolved in ways they couldn't have imagined.

Although the third series was successful in ratings terms, the creators decided to end the show to avoid becoming stale.

Filming[edit]

The Barwon Heads boatshed, used as Diver Dan's home, circa 2007.

Filming was based at Barwon Heads, Victoria and St Leonards, Victoria, both locations being on the Bellarine Peninsula. A number of streets in the St Leonards Sea Change Estate have since been named to acknowledge some of the characters of the series. Many scenes were also filmed in Williamstown (a suburb of Melbourne), including the exterior of the Williamstown Life Saving Club, which became the court house of Pearl Bay.

Tours to see the locations where filming took place were popular in 2003.[2]

Recurring themes[edit]

Shakespeare's play The Tempest is a clear influence on SeaChange, exemplified by the episode titles "Something Rich and Strange" and "Full Fathom Five", and by Miranda's name, as well as frequent freak weather events.[3]

SeaChange was often compared to Northern Exposure.[4]

One of the long-running jokes on the show is the town bridge. The easiest connection from Pearl Bay to the rest of the world, it had been destroyed years earlier, and attempts to fix it always seem to go awry.

Another recurring joke involves the character 'Bucket'. This bizarre individual is an unseen character (except in one episode, in the background, when someone waves to him), but in almost every episode he is talked about. From various accounts he is missing limbs (but is still able to drive a boat), has no teeth and has never eaten a cereal grain in his life, and tends to get drunk often and steal people's ride-on mowers. He often arrives home drunk and would drink from the water bowl of his dog, the late Alfonzo Dominico Jones.

At the end of every episode (except episodes 1 and 12 of series 1, episode 5 of series 2 and the final episode) there is a brief scene in which Kevin and Trevor chat while sitting on the beach. Their conversation usually sums up the episode, often comically. In Episode 5 of series 2, the Kevin and Trevor scene is not at the very end, and takes place not on the beach but at the Alfonzo Dominico Santonio Jones Memorial Pool. Also, in episode 10 of series 3, Kevin's sister Suzie joined him to tell him that their recently-deceased father's electric guitar (which they had buried) was worth $8,000 because he had played with The Masters Apprentices for a week. In one episode, the Masters Apprentices (or one version of them) played themselves, with credit given to Jim Keays.

Reception[edit]

The title SeaChange related to the SeaChange effect, drawing on and propagating the trend of city dwellers seeking to escape the pressures of city living by moving to coastal areas.[5][6] It was one of David Wenham's first major roles.

John Howard later narrated the reality TV show The Real Seachange.

Video and DVD releases and online streaming[edit]

The entire series was released on video, with each series released in two parts. Series 1 was released as DVD set, and each series is available on DVD in two parts. The entire series is also available in a DVD boxed set.

SeaChange has been available on Netflix and Stan.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Horner, Ian (10 May 2016). "Kerry Armstrong makes a Pawno". Hawkesbury Gazette. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Next stop, Pearl Bay". The Age. 28 February 2003. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  3. ^ Parnell, Rebecca (2009). "SeaChange, Where Fish Fly". In Bierbaum, Nena; Hosking, Rick; Hosking, Sue; Pannell, Rebecca. Something rich and strange : sea changes, beaches and the littoral in the antipodes. Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press. pp. 47–61. ISBN 9781862548701. 
  4. ^ Parnell, Rebecca (2009). "SeaChange, Where Fish Fly". In Bierbaum, Nena; Hosking, Rick; Hosking, Sue; Pannell, Rebecca. Something rich and strange : sea changes, beaches and the littoral in the antipodes. Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press. pp. 47–61. ISBN 9781862548701. 
  5. ^ "The Effect of Living the 'Sea Change' Dream". Archived from the original on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  6. ^ Murphy, Peter (March 2002). "Sea Change: Re-Inventing Rural and Regional Australia" (PDF). Transformations. ISSN 1444-3775. OCLC 223320905. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "The stars of SeaChange: Where are they now?". News.com.au. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 

External links[edit]