Sons & Daughters Watching/rewatching/discussing The Aussie Hit Show

James from London

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I'm up to 575.

Caroline's introduction was a little strange.
I got the tiniest stab of excitement when she first appeared. I don't have especially positive memories of her but she's such a significant character and the series has been in surprisingly good shape since Patricia left that I was more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

She's essentially Anne Matheson (the rich bitch mother of an established younger female character who arrives on the scene to stir the pot), if we'd met her when she was living with Benny Appleman.
Ha! Benny Appleman, of course! This is probably stating the obvious, but if Patricia was Abby and Caroline is Anne, then Leigh is Paige and Karen is Claudia. It's kind of a shame Karen was the one they killed off (although Liz's flashback to her going over that bridge was very funny).

Naturally she's now moved in with Amanda and every scene is rife with arch bitchery as she trades barbs with other females. She's now somehow invested in Gordon's company. It's not as exciting as it should be, but watchable all the same.
Visually, Caroline reminds me of a posh guest at the Crossroads Motel in the 1970s who sits in the lounge making archly enigmatic comments to David Hunter.

Jill is now on the game again and there's all the usual soapy prostitute stuff about threatening pimps staying off other sex workers' turf and whatnot. I'm interested to see how far they take it. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's kind of like seeing Sue Ellen pick up the Smirnoff yet again, but we've never seen Jill "relapse", so it's essentially new territory.
First Andy and his cult, then Lynn with her eating disorder, then Amanda with her obsessive need to pretend to have Todd's baby, then Barbara with her pill addiction and now Jill being all prostitutey. They kind of all feel like the same story: a character gets an obsession, won't accept they've got an obsession, everybody shouts at them, eventually they face up to their obsession and then get over it really quickly.

Katie empathised with someone mourning the death of a character and I thought she was finally going to acknowledge her brother's death. But no, it was because "It's going to take me a long time to get over Ross." Ugh.
The lack of room on the show for grief or almost any kind of reflection is really becoming apparent. Now that so many of the original cast have gradually disappeared, the deep-seated connections between the characters have too. To compensate for that, the characters have to become deeply invested in whatever's going on in that moment, in order to sell us on its importance - like after Todd died, Irene couldn't afford to mourn him for long because she had to take an avid interest in David and Barbara's current problems. It's why Fiona immediately clutches any twenty-something person to her freckly bosom as soon as she meets them, e.g., her exploding-wheelchair dead fiancee's fake nephew whom she drags to Woombai as soon as they've met. Because of the largeness of Fiona's personality, she kind of gets away with it, but now the "Andy & The Greek Girl" plot has started and it feels like the actress can't quite work out how to pitch her reaction to it. She's come dangerously close to sending the whole thing up. Maybe she's having trouble justifying why Fiona should care about any of these people.

The good stuff is Beryl and her kidnapped baby. Beryl's anguish is great, but David seemed bizarrely relaxed during the whole thing. Him being Leigh's father was a juicy twist, but I was kind of hoping she'd been conceived while he and Beryl were married - continuity be damned!

Jill being back on the game actually proved to have some nice character moments. The series’ attitude towards prostitution continues to be somewhere unusually fluid: The clearest message is that prostitution is bad - something from which someone needs to be rescued. This is reinforced by Jill’s evident sadness and violent rape at the hands of her pimp.

And yet at other times it’s presented in a way that falls somewhere between progressive and romantic. Such as in Fiona responding to Andy asking her if she ever enjoyed being on the game:
Yeah, that was a nice exception to the rule where Fiona was allowed to get (weirdly) nostalgic about the past

Anyway, Fiona has now called Jill a whore, shocking her back to her senses and so Jill’s off the game and smiling again.
Yeah, it's like Jill just had a 48-hour case of prostitutitis, but after some hot honey and lemon and a good night's sleep, she's as right as rain again.

Something that’s intriguing me about Gary’s scenes is that his friend and co-conspirator Dennis White has a pronounced stammer. With this storyline being so plot-based, I can’t help wondering if it’s going to be a plot device. If it’s a case of either casting an actor with a genuine stammer or giving a character a stammer Jerry Booth style I’m impressed.
I noticed the stammer as well and wondered whether it might be real, but I don't think it could be. It would be like getting drunk to play a drunk. But it is a nice touch.

Caroline taught Stephen a lesson for taking her for granted by inviting another man to be there when he arrived, making sure Stephen saw him and then smilingly berating him for not calling her. While her feline aura usually puts me in mind of her (sur)namesake, Caress Morrell, I thought this particular moment was very Abby-esque. She got her man, too, and the Morells are a family unit again. For now. Caroline’s also evoking the spirit of practically every woman on Dallas by caressing a dinky little purse pistol with a fancy handle. It won’t end well. For somebody, anyway.
Caroline makes me appreciate every other soap bitch/femme fatale/villainess afresh because they're all so much better at it than she is. Her all-purpose smuggery is really repetitive and grating. She's done nothing to earn her self-regard and there's nothing behind it - no wit, no intelligence, no poignancy, no originality. Leigh may be one note, but she's a lot easier to watch. I'm not being asked to like her or find her attractive or intriguing or charmingly outrageous the way I am the simpering, self-congratulatory Caroline.
 
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Willie Oleson

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Maybe she's having trouble justifying why Fiona should care about any of these people.
I think that's why her drama in the later seasons often feels so over-dramatized, with more "waaa-waaa" and hands in the air, just to sell it as an important storyline.
the simpering, self-congratulatory Caroline.
Maybe it was over-compensating for Patricia's absence.

Like you said:
Now that so many of the original cast have gradually disappeared, the deep-seated connections between the characters have too. To compensate for that, the characters have to become deeply invested in whatever's going on in that moment, in order to sell us on its importance
And conveniently ignoring Caroline's non-history.
 

Mel O'Drama

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This is probably stating the obvious, but if Patricia was Abby and Caroline is Anne, then Leigh is Paige and Karen is Claudia.
Oh, that wasn't obvious to me at all. And now that you've said it I can get completely on board with that.



Visually, Caroline reminds me of a posh guest at the Crossroads Motel in the 1970s who sits in the lounge making archly enigmatic comments to David Hunter.
Ha ha. Yes.



First Andy and his cult, then Lynn with her eating disorder, then Amanda with her obsessive need to pretend to have Todd's baby, then Barbara with her pill addiction and now Jill being all prostitutey. They kind of all feel like the same story: a character gets an obsession, won't accept they've got an obsession, everybody shouts at them, eventually they face up to their obsession and then get over it really quickly.
It's a bit of a sausage factory, isn't it? And while they may taste nice enough and fill a gap, there's just no substance and little satisfaction.



It's why Fiona immediately clutches any twenty-something person to her freckly bosom as soon as she meets them
Oh - this just nearly made me spray my lavender and chamomile infusion over my screen.



Him being Leigh's father was a juicy twist, but I was kind of hoping she'd been conceived while he and Beryl were married - continuity be damned!
I'm sure they could have thrown that one in without me even realising it was against continuity.



I noticed the stammer as well and wondered whether it might be real, but I don't think it could be.
I never got to the bottom of it, and I think I was still undecided even by the time of the character's last episode. But I'm sure you're right.


Caroline makes me appreciate every other soap bitch/femme fatale/villainess afresh because they're all so much better at it than she is. Her all-purpose smuggery is really repetitive and grating. She's done nothing to earn her self-regard and there's nothing behind it - no wit, no intelligence, no poignancy, no originality. Leigh may be one note, but she's a lot easier to watch. I'm not being asked to like her or find her attractive or intriguing or charmingly outrageous the way I am the simpering, self-congratulatory Caroline.
Oh gosh. I'm sending you thoughts of strength since you have a whole lot of Caroline ahead of you.
 

James from London

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her drama in the later seasons often feels so over-dramatized, with more "waaa-waaa" and hands in the air
I'm gonna remember "waaa-waaa".

I'm sure they could have thrown that one in without me even realising it was against continuity.
Well, I don't think it would contradict any hard facts, just the idea that David and Beryl were a totally faithful couple till Patricia came back on the scene. But it would have been very interesting to see what impact Beryl finding out David had cheated on her back when she thought they were so happy together would have on their relationship in the present. And it would have cast so much of what we thought knew in a different light, which is always interesting (unless it's Matty Nolan turning out to be Barry Grant's dad).

you have a whole lot of Caroline ahead of you.
That's what I was afraid of.

How do other people feel about her?
 

Mel O'Drama

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it would have been very interesting to see what impact Beryl finding out David had cheated on her back when she thought they were so happy together would have on their relationship in the present. And it would have cast so much of what we thought knew in a different light, which is always interesting (unless it's Matty Nolan turning out to be Barry Grant's dad).
Agreed on all counts.


How do other people feel about her?
I can't actually remember a lot about her from my recent rewatch, which is perhaps a statement in itself.

In general I find her extremely one-note, and certainly (as you've said) less interesting than most of the arch bitch types on this series. And, as you've also pointed out with other aspects of the story, she was created at a time in the series when character development left something to be desired.

But I do seem to remember that there were occasional scenes where Abigail surprised me with some nice, small moments, so it's not all bad news.
 

Willie Oleson

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But it would have been very interesting to see what impact Beryl finding out David had cheated on her back when she thought they were so happy together would have on their relationship in the present
Maybe it would have been too cruel, considering all the things that were already happening to Beryl (and mostly because of Leigh).
Having said that, I don't think I remembered that she wasn't conceived during his marriage to Beryl - until you mentioned it.
Season 4 was a very busy year.
But I do seem to remember that there were occasional scenes where Abigail surprised me with some nice, small moments, so it's not all bad news
I agree. Sometimes they found the angle that suited the actress e.g. when she was more relaxed and just being vampy. But those fists-clenched "ugh!" moments are difficult to watch.
 

Victoriafan3

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I didn’t like much of 1985 at all. Too many originals gone (Jill written out with barely a mention at any moment we James) and far too many kidnappings, explosions, deaths and a slew of new dull, boring forgettable characters and they replaced superbitch with too many superbotches going on to replace the irreplaceable one.

Anyhoo, Caroline. I remember Abigail’s arrival heralded much news in Australia. One of the main leading ladies - Leila perhaps - said, to paraphrase, ‘we have been working so hard on this show for years and Abigail comes in and claims all the attention/credit for it.’ It has been such a close knit and friendly cast til then

It was like the writers couldn’t decide whether to make Caroline nice or not. Sometimes she was blah, sometimes she was good on it. Abigail had been Australia’s sex symbol of the 1970s. So it was a coup for the producers but not necessarily for the show

I met Abigail in 1988 after a play she was in in Sydney. In the play she was great (I remember thinking how much better she was in this than in S&D so then it couldve been how the writers wrote Caroline because Abigail was certainly more than capable with the right material.


She was so lovely to me when she chatted with me for a few minutes and signed my playbill. I was so glad I met her. The last I heard of her, a few years ago, she was a penniless hermit living in back and beyond in a caravan park. I really felt for her.


I did like the way Caroline ended up and I adored her and Doug’s last scene together.
 
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Mel O'Drama

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I remember Abigail’s arrival heralded much news in Australia. One of the main leading ladies said, to paraphrase, ‘we have been working so hard on this show for years and Abigail comes in and claims all the attention/credit for it.’ It has been such a close knit and friendly cast til then
Oh yes. Abigail was definitely a case of stunt casting. She had been a phenomenon in 96, based on her sex kitten image, so I can imagine there was a lot of buzz. And it was probably something of an opportunity for a big comeback for Abigail herself. I'm not sure if Caroline was created with her in mind, but you're right that the writers couldn't seem to decide what to do with her. Again, I wonder if that's because they weren't confident in Abigail's range or because they were burnt out with all these bitches and couldn't find a new angle. Abigail seemed to struggle to explore shades and subtleties to the character so she ended up as very arch a lot of the time.

The comment from the female cast member is interesting. I'd love to know more about the behind-the-scenes stuff. I always get the impression that the S&D cast liked each other a lot, but then we usually just see the same few interacting in rare interviews and reunions (now I think of it, I don't remember Abigail appearing in these reunions). And there were so many actors over the years, I'm sure there must have been some challenges or schisms. And it's been more-0r-less said that Peter Phelps bedded a number of women who worked on the show. :D

Anyway, I'm glad that meeting her was such a nice experience for you.
 

James from London

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One of the main leading ladies - Leila perhaps - said, to paraphrase, ‘we have been working so hard on this show for years and Abigail comes in and claims all the attention/credit for it.’ It has been such a close knit and friendly cast til then
Hmm, very interesting. It might not be true, of course. In that YouTube interview she did recently, Sarah Douglas was categorical that the feud between her and Gina Lollobrigida on the set of FALCON CREST was entirely fabricated by the publicity department. On the other hand, Alec Baldwin, who has always been so positive about his experience on KNOTS, wrote in his autobiography that there were certain long time cast member(s) who jealously guarded their screen time and possibly resented his presence. And the British actor Nicky Henson, who was diagnosed with cancer many years ago but carried on living and working for far longer than he was expected to (he finally died last year), once told me about the short stint on EASTENDERS he did in the mid-00s. He said the regulars were always insecure when newcomers arrived in case they ended up replacing them so the first thing he said when he walked in the green room was, "Don't worry, I'll be dead in six months!"
 

Mel O'Drama

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Alec Baldwin, who has always been so positive about his experience on KNOTS, wrote in his autobiography that there were certain long time cast member(s) who jealously guarded their screen time and possibly resented his presence.
Interesting. I haven't read his bio, and can't remember reading that titbit before. Naturally, my mind is now racing with possibilities.


And the British actor Nicky Henson, who was diagnosed with cancer many years ago but carried on living and working for far longer than he was expected to (he finally died last year), once told me about the short stint on EASTENDERS he did in the mid-00s. He said the regulars were always insecure when newcomers arrived in case they ended up replacing them so the first thing he said when he walked in the green room was, "Don't worry, I'll be dead in six months!"
Ha. At first I thought he meant his character would be dead, but then I realised the full implication. What an opener!
 

James from London

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Willie Oleson

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I remember Abigail’s arrival heralded much news in Australia. One of the main leading ladies - Leila perhaps - said, to paraphrase, ‘we have been working so hard on this show for years and Abigail comes in and claims all the attention/credit for it.’
Oh yes. Abigail was definitely a case of stunt casting
So, whatever kind of buzz was created, it wasn't necessarily Abigail's doing. But regardless, I can understand the frustration of the S&D veterans.

But to be honest, this also feels a bit like a slap in the face:
upload_2020-7-28_12-43-38.png

because they were not "classic" Sons & Daughters. The Pat The Rat DVD also ignores the best parts of Rowena.

The last I heard of her, a few years ago, she was a penniless hermit living in back and beyond in a caravan park
From a Where Are They Now article:
"Abigail made headlines in 2011 when it was discovered that she and her Logie-winning husband Adrian Wright were living in an abandoned church after their home was destroyed by floodwaters"
 

Mel O'Drama

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I just flicked through it in a shop and looked up the bit on Knots!
Oh - you're a man after my own heart.




So, whatever kind of buzz was created, it wasn't necessarily Abigail's doing. But regardless, I can understand the frustration of the S&D veterans.
It's one of those dilemmas, because it presumably created a buzz for the series, but all the focus was on one actor in a huge ensemble. So I, too, can understand why the long-term actors would be a little put out.

And I imagine Caroline could possibly have never lived up to the hype anyway.




But to be honest, this also feels a bit like a slap in the face:

because they were not "classic" Sons & Daughters. The Pat The Rat DVD also ignores the best parts of Rowena.
Yes. And all the images on the Pat The Rat DVD are of Alison and Pamela (apart from one hidden image of Alison holding a photo of Patricia).

I don't think the people putting the DVDs together gave it a whole lot of research. They also had Normie Rowe giving an audio commentary for an episode in which he never appeared.

But I can't be cross at them, because at least they made many great episodes officially available for the first time. And with bonus features. That's as much as Sons and Daughters fans could hope for. At least, until the very recent shock announcement!!!
 

Victoriafan3

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This is for any of you who doubt that Janice was not magnificent

This is the wonderfully funny and hugely talented Rima Te Wiata (who I met and adore and who is super friendly did I mention?) on an Aussie comedy skit show after S&D

Dare you not to laugh ;o)
 

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I haven't seen anything official yet but I saw a post on another site saying that Australian distributor Via Vision would be releasing the first season of Sons and Daughters on DVD later this year. Not sure if it's legit but they do have form for releasing older soaps as they're currently promoting the fact that they're releasing season 11 of A Country Practice soon and previously released the first 96 episodes of E Street in one box set.

It looks like this could actually be going ahead. There's now two listings on retail sites with prices and technical details although artwork is still to be finalised.


 

James from London

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