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

Mel O'Drama

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As I watch Home and Away episodes from early 1988, the spirit of Beryl Palmer's domestic dramas looms over The Seven Network's replacement soap...












Someone's found one of David's tinnies down the crack...




And let's not forget that Margaret Dunne had it first.
 

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Like Andy Greene as a brainwashed member of the cult and Barbara's friendship with the evil Dr Ross (and her addiction to tranquilizers), Fiona herself proves to be the greatest danger in her cancer storyline.
As per usual, the other characters start a rescue mission which brings them to Fiona's deeply religious relatives: her brother and her niece Janice.
But it's Wayne who manages her to change her mind about the operation - also one of the few things I remembered.

The introduction of Janice is an obvious attempt at doing comedy, and it's something Sons & Daughters never had to do before.
If that's not bad enough, Fiona's pre-operation party is the extreme opposite of her cancer drama. It's over-the-top cheerful, camp and it feels terribly stilted.
The fact that S&D's party scenes are always particularly well staged makes it even more apparent that this isn't one of those scenes.
Where's that exploding wheelchair when you need it, huh?

Adam is leaving (boo!) and this was a good opportunity for me to consider Charlie's bigger storylines from season 4 onwards.
She's never going to be the main attraction but I think she held up very well, or at least she never bothered me. I'm sure the actress could have played the drama more intensely, but they decided not to compromise Charlie's character and that's why she's always able to approach the situation in her own naive and ditzy way.
Whenever there's an undertone of genuine drama or sadness it's very noticeable, but it usually doesn't last very long because that's not what Charlie's all about.

A good example of not-playing-for-laughs-yet-hysterically-funny is when blind Kelly gets out of the car and immediately falls on the floor.
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Tim Palmer climbs down from a ladder and...oh, that's strange. I can't find my notes anymore.

There's a reference to the Rajneesh movement when Beryl and Spider discuss a pair of pink trousers. I didn't realize it immediately, at first it almost sounded like an anti-gay comment.
Caroline is a real trendsetter because suddenly big hats are all the rage in SoapLand Downunder.

She's still trying to cope with Amanda's death and Wayne thinks that having her hooked on alcohol will give him access to her shares or proxy votes or supporting votes or whatever.
It's so dastardly that you almost don't see how clunky this scheme is, although not necessarily more unbelievable than Amanda's drug addiction (how did Bill Ashley manage to do that?)
Clever Alison then hijacks his scheme by turning Caroline in an overprotective mother and she ends up with Caroline's shares, which means that she now controls 50% of the company (err, I thought she already did. Didn't James give half of the company to Gordon, which means that he still owns the other half?)
Oh well, better not to overthink this!

Alison's villainy is far more obvious than Patricia's, there are plenty of devious and victorious grins so there's no need trying to figure out what's going on in her head.
The feud between her and Wayne is just balls-to-the-wall and I'm sure it's going to stay that way until the very end.
The current problem is an historical building and it combines various characters, which is usually a good thing. And it looks like Janice has dropped the charicature act so for now I'll remain optimistic.
 

Mel O'Drama

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She's never going to be the main attraction but I think she held up very well, or at least she never bothered me. I'm sure the actress could have played the drama more intensely, but they decided not to compromise Charlie's character and that's why she's always able to approach the situation in her own naive and ditzy way.
Whenever there's an undertone of genuine drama or sadness it's very noticeable, but it usually doesn't last very long because that's not what Charlie's all about.

Yes. Charlie was overall a consistently watchable character for the entire run. Even with the attempts to make her more important with backstory and family coming out of the woodwork she never stopped being Charlie. The occasional bit of lip quivering or dewy eyed sadness is fine. But it's good that the quipping and darling-ing were never far away.


She's still trying to cope with Amanda's death and Wayne thinks that having her hooked on alcohol will give him access to her shares or proxy votes or supporting votes or whatever.
It's so dastardly that you almost don't see how clunky this scheme is,

Oh God. I really wish I couldn't have seen how clunky this scheme is.

Alison's villainy is far more obvious than Patricia's, there are plenty of devious and victorious grins so there's no need trying to figure out what's going on in her head.

Yes. She's far more arch. It's almost as though Alison is written (or played) by people who've read a synopsis of Patricia's stories without actually watching how they played out.


The current problem is an historical building and it combines various characters, which is usually a good thing.

Ah. The best little whorehouse in Sydney.


And it looks like Janice has dropped the charicature act so for now I'll remain optimistic.

I was expecting the worst but found myself quickly growing fond of Janice. She'll get you too if you're not careful.
 

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I can’t think of a time in S&D history where the high drama plots like doppelgängers and evil husband-stealing has contrasted so starkly with more comedic efforts like a teetotaller discovering Fluffy Bunnies or series regulars popping up in bunny suits and even as muses in erotic paintings. And yet, it’s somehow working. The quirky stuff is very middle years Number 96, while the melodrama doesn’t let us forget we’re still watching Sons And Daughters
After all the big drama with the cancer and Barney's war journals I can understand that they wanted to create a more humorous and lighthearted story for Fiona, and Pat McDonald does comedy very well.
In essence there's nothing wrong with the Mansion scenes, but it adds a whole new dimension to the show, and it takes a big bite out of the Sons & Daughters apple.
I was afraid the humour was going to reach Dural when they hired "funny" old gardener Alf, but thankfully Isabella II came to my rescue.
Janice's bulldozer antics are indeed kind of humorous, but Mae Walters doesn't work for me at all, at least not with that much screen time. But maybe the beast in her hasn't come out yet!

Gordon even enquired how things were at Ramberg, only for Alison to tell him it's now called Hamilton Industries (I found this very helpful. Since the business stuff is so vague I don't think I even knew this).
Ha! What industries? I thought it was an investment company.
Maybe we should ask James to make a clear and exact post-Ramberg timeline of the company!

I’ve felt twinges of anger towards Alison for moving in on Gordon and pushing out Barbara at such a vulnerable time
Poor Barbara! Alison causes her to have a rash, then a car crash and then she also wrecks Barbara's marriage.
To be fair, the accident was Caroline's fault, and considering how she felt about Alison I don't think she was going to admit that, so I guess Alison had to flee the crash scene.
What I don't understand is why she blackmailed Caroline into giving her all the money. She already got her shares in the company. Don't these shareholders have an income or something? Blackmail and theft (and Charlie) seem to be the only financial resources.
Speaking of theft, a common thief gives Beryl a good run for her money, and Wayne goes knee-deep in the trash to retrieve the money from the Mansion (accompanied by a funky cop-show soundtrack - oh dear, oh dear!).

But what I really really dislike about Alison is how she treats Charlie. I know Patricia could be catty too, but Alison's reactions are unnecessarily strong.

(it’s perhaps worth noting that Wayne’s newfound likeability includes a plot where he, too, is doubling as a somewhat less competent handyman at the apartment complex).
It's official now: everything happens in Sons & Daughters.
 

Mel O'Drama

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In essence there's nothing wrong with the Mansion scenes, but it adds a whole new dimension to the show, and it takes a big bite out of the Sons & Daughters apple.

I have a fondness for the mansion. There's genuine atmosphere there sometimes. But I'm a sucker for revolving bookcases and secret doors and whatnot.


Mae Walters doesn't work for me at all, at least not with that much screen time. But maybe the beast in her hasn't come out yet!

She has her moments, but I should warn you not to get your hopes too high regarding that beast.


Maybe we should ask James to make a clear and exact post-Ramberg timeline of the company!

I wouldn't say no to this. ;)


But what I really really dislike about Alison is how she treats Charlie. I know Patricia could be catty too, but Alison's reactions are unnecessarily strong.

I think I got desensitised to this after a while. I'm interested to follow how you feel this goes as time goes on.


It's official now: everything happens in Sons & Daughters.

And then some.


Watch out for untalented kids with scary hair.

I hesitate to ask, but... who is this?
 

Willie Oleson

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Alison has her (much needed) setback when she returns from James' funeral. It's a great scene that sort of sticks out like a sore thumb.
I *think* he has disinherited her, which means that she now only has the 1% + Caroline's shares, and she's no longer acting as James' proxy.
Apart from the scene mentioned above I still have to figure out how important this is.

Unfortunately, the lighthearted tone is not confined to the Mansion because now there's quite a bit of childish tit for tat going on between Alison and Wayne.
The painting, the escort...

Irene tells Barbara that she can't tell Gordon that she's his wife because it could kill him. Literally. Drop dead.
Well he finds out that Patricia's no longer alive and yes that makes him sad, but not dead.
Either way, Barbara can't stand the situation anymore and leaves, shortly after that Irene and Samantha say their goodbyes too.
Which means that all season 3 characters are gone, and Caroline and Tim are the only remaining characters from season 4. Talk about a major clean-out!

The freshly recruited replacements are:

Susan Palmer, who has returned with a new face. There's something about her expressions and mannerism that reminds me of Charlene Tilton.
She has to be saved from an adulterous/married doctor boyfriend. Too bad, because I like the dirty doctors.

Graig Maxwell, a "seventeen" year old muscular Q-tip who claims to be Beryl's son. He's not, but eventually it comes to the point where she has to defend herself because David thinks it's possible.
I just can't believe the insanity of it all.

Shopping mall tycoon Doug Fletcher, the new man in Caroline's life. Caroline is currently living in David's house and it looks like Graig is moving in too.
Caroline is not on top form at the moment, will Doug be able to change things for the better? We'll see…

Lust object Glen Young, who is introduced in pretty much the same way as FRESNO's character Torch.
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It's not hard to look at, but at the same time it's impossible to ignore the obvious gimmickry (and of course that totally worked for FRESNO).
But then we learn he's more than that because he has turned his back on the cutthroat world of hi-finance business, which makes him a cross between Paul Shepard and Luke Carlyle.
Technically speaking, that is - because he's still got a lot of convincing to do.

And together with the previously introduced characters Janice and Mae they are Sons & Daughters season 5.

Season 4 had some issues, mostly the pace of the narrative, but I feel season 5 is going to be a whole different beast!
 

Mel O'Drama

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Unfortunately, the lighthearted tone is not confined to the Mansion because now there's quite a bit of childish tit for tat going on between Alison and Wayne.
The painting, the escort...

The main issue with some of these more frivolous storylines is that they can feel disposable. You know they're not going to last long so it's difficult to invest. The occasional one is fine, but two or three side-by-side and it throws off the whole balance.


Barbara can't stand the situation anymore and leaves, shortly after that Irene and Samantha say their goodbyes too.

I still haven't got over the loss of Barbara and Irene at almost the same time. It was a huge blow to the series and I have to wonder what on earth the powers that be were thinking.


muscular Q-tip

I'm not sure what this means*, but it sounds a little rude.

* I do know that Q-tips are an American brand of cotton buds which were originally called Baby Gays.


Season 4 had some issues, mostly the pace of the narrative, but I feel season 5 is going to be a whole different beast!

You're not wrong, Willie.
 

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I still haven't got over the loss of Barbara and Irene at almost the same time
There isn't much at stake at the moment but the situation with Gordon and Barbara could have been that core drama that the show needed. So it's even more frustrating that she was fired when this story was about to develop.
Judy Nunn has been terribly underused this season (and maybe season 4 too) and her last scene with Pat McDonald only emphasized that. Sad times indeed.

But now it's time for the new sons and daughters to leave their mark and I have no idea what's going to happen next (apart from the exploding vacuum cleaner).
 

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Susan Palmer, who has returned with a new face. There's something about her expressions and mannerism that reminds me of Charlene Tilton.
And she also helps Beryl with the hot biscuit business.
In essence there's nothing wrong with the Mansion scenes, but it adds a whole new dimension to the show
I'm going to say it again, it certainly achieves what it wants to achieve. It's not like the actors stopped being good actors, and if it were any other show I probably would have enjoyed this charming set up. But it's just not addictive enough for Sons & Daughters.
The humour and chirpiness in Fiona's first boarding house was always a byproduct of the drama and it just made the scenes more colourful and enjoyable, but it didn't exist for itself.

Englishman Neville Curtis has arrived and there's some confusion over him having ties with the Royal Family or not, and since the Mansion has a bit of colonial atmosphere it felt kinda on-topic.
Mae Walters is also more watchable when she doesn't act like the fragile, pearls-clutching dowager and I liked the scene where she gives the horrible, fake-smoking Bev her marching orders.

The S&D characters have been all over the place all the time, but somehow it doesn't work for Caroline.
Maybe because she's a leftover from season 4, and her connection with David just doesn't feel strong enough.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the effort to intergrate her into various storylines. Sometimes a soap has to try different combinations in order to find its groove.
And there's a surprisingly touching scene when Charlie arrives at David's place with a box full of Caroline's clothes as a peace offering.

The search for Graig's real mother is quintessential Sons and Daughters. Beryl is attacked by one of Ruby's old friends and it looks very well staged.
Beryl thinks it's better to forget about it as it will only cause more trouble for Graig. I get the feeling that Beryl will end up being his substitute lookalike mother after all.

There's a more bizarre blurring of identities going on between Patricia and Alison. She is Patricia but she's playing Patricia's friend, and yet everyone reacts to her as if she is Patricia - so it feels like watching denial and acknowledgment at the same time. And to make it even more confusing, those who know she's Patricia effortlessly accept her as "Alison" and to me this almost feels like a retcon, as if Alison has retroactively replaced Patricia in the S&D history.

Either way, things are getting more soapy when Susan arrives at Dural to work as Gordon's nurse. She and Glen look like a couple to root for, hopefully there's some meaty drama coming from it.
 

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There isn't much at stake at the moment but the situation with Gordon and Barbara could have been that core drama that the show needed. So it's even more frustrating that she was fired when this story was about to develop.

Absolutely. The timing of it was terrible as she was a key character in the drama playing out. It all suggests a very sudden exit for Cornelia Frances as well as Barbara and it clearly took the writers by surprise as well as there was no hint of ending to her exit.



Judy Nunn has been terribly underused this season (and maybe season 4 too)

Yes. I think of her as a Laura Avery/Donna Krebbs type of character in that she's highly watchable but somehow seems destined to mostly avoid the heights of soapy drama that characters like Karen and Val or Sue Ellen and Pam or Beryl, Fiona and Alison get.

And it's a little timely that I've made that comparison, as Judy's Home and Away character has just married in circumstances I've compared directly with Laura's low key wedding to Greg. Although Judy is better serviced as the nice auntie type on that show than she was in S&D.



But now it's time for the new sons and daughters to leave their mark and I have no idea what's going to happen next (apart from the exploding vacuum cleaner).

How exciting. I wonder how much of it will come back to you as you watch on.


The S&D characters have been all over the place all the time, but somehow it doesn't work for Caroline.
Maybe because she's a leftover from season 4, and her connection with David just doesn't feel strong enough.

I feel the same way.



Sometimes a soap has to try different combinations in order to find its groove.

Indeed. And nobody could accuse Sons and Daughters of not doing that.


The search for Graig's real mother is quintessential Sons and Daughters. Beryl is attacked by one of Ruby's old friends and it looks very well staged.

It's funny (and yet not, knowing how these soap stories work) how these moments of mistaken identity for Beryl have come right on cue, just as Craig has shown up. You'd think it she would have been getting randomly punched out for years by people who thought she was Ruby. Though I suppose with actively looking for Ruby, the chances have indeed increased.


There's a more bizarre blurring of identities going on between Patricia and Alison. She is Patricia but she's playing Patricia's friend, and yet everyone reacts to her as if she is Patricia - so it feels like watching denial and acknowledgment at the same time. And to make it even more confusing, those who know she's Patricia effortlessly accept her as "Alison" and to me this almost feels like a retcon, as if Alison has retroactively replaced Patricia in the S&D history.

It's bizarre, all right. I'd like to have seen more people getting bad vibes from her, just as Barbara did. And I'd have appreciated some more slip-ups from Charlie. Not the big plot point slip ups that threaten to blow Alison's cover, but just little slips of the tongue like occasionally saying the wrong name when they're having a one-to-one conversation.
 

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It's bizarre, all right. I'd like to have seen more people getting bad vibes from her, just as Barbara did.
You also mentioned this:
How surreal is it that Susan would fail to recognise the Patriciaesque Alison while, conversely, Alison instantly recognised the drastically different neoSusan so completely that she momentarily forgot she hadn’t met her as “Alison” and almost gave her secret identity away
Didn't something similar happen on Dynasty when Jack Coleman's Steven didn't recognize a friend eventhough the friend recognized him?
 

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Since there's so much going on in the historical Sydney Mansion it kind of feels like a post-Sons & Daughters spin-off series.
Neville is the stereotypical educated-but-fairly-useless Brit with a delicate skin who loves to play cricket.
Not surprisingly, something special starts to bloom between him and Janice.
The harmless explosion of a boiler (courtesy of clumsy Neville) suddenly made me realize that this is the perfect setting for something more drastic.

There are various scenes that seem slightly predictable but I don't know if that's because it is predictable or because I subconsciously remember it when I see it (e.g. Susan in her blue dress).
Is it my very own Sons & Daughters amnesia? ("there was another woman in the car"...I hope they haven't forgotten about that storyline!).

Original Susan tried to ignore Bill Todd's aggressive behaviour but new Susan is very uptight about the very idea of male aggression, regardless of the reasons or situation.
This kind of makes sense considering what happened in season 1, but now it's being used to keep her and Glen Young apart, in order to make the road to romance as bumpy as possible.
Overall, she comes across as the confused, hot & cold heroine that we've seen in countless stories before and after S&D.
It doesn't hurt that she has that "Lucy Ewing" quiver in her voice, and she's also not extremely sensible (funnily enough, it's what made O.Susan kind of unsympathetic sometimes, but I liked unsympathetic, not-putting-up-with-Angela-Susan).

Another thing I noticed, it doesn't look particularly nostalgic eighties anymore although I'm not sure when it stopped looking nostalgic.
Whenever I think of the second part of the eighties I struggle to feel a strong identity eventhough Howards' Way looks very nostalgic to me. Maybe there was a connection with the popularity of princess Diana (not story-wise, I hasten to add) or maybe it justed looked more familiar.
If there's a sense of period it's mostly in Alison Carr's appearance. She's sexier than original Patricia and there's always something very time-phased about our perception of "sexy".

Speaking of which, Janice accidentally smacks a salad into Neville's crotch. She tries to clean it by frenetically wiping his trousers. "It has to come out!"
Mae enters the room and Janice asks her if she knows anything about stains.
And then the DVD stopped working, as if it became too x-rated to watch.
 

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Neville is the stereotypical educated-but-fairly-useless Brit with a delicate skin who loves to play cricket.

Yes. The archetypal Pommie. But kind of good looking in a Nigel Havers kind of way.


The harmless explosion of a boiler (courtesy of clumsy Neville) suddenly made me realize that this is the perfect setting for something more drastic.

Maybe it will be, Willie. Maybe it will be.


Is it my very own Sons & Daughters amnesia?

It had to happen at some point in this thread. How exciting!
 

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And Glen’s bum has been given its own dramatic sepia freeze frame
I think even the announcer commented on this.
Janice’s character, too, has been explored
My favourite "Janice" scene happened in the boiler room when she and Neville talked about things that shouldn't be left unsaid.
Neville confesses that he still loves his (ex?)fiancée. It's a little predictable because we already know that the romance-that-could-have-been is mostly one-sided and there's even a comical aspect to Janice's mistaken optimism, but her reaction is so heartfelt - especially in the light of Charlie's comment that Janice will end up being an old maid - that I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.
As time went on, the siege at the manse started to feel almost humdrum. But in the best way possible
And this time I thought the character-comedy (albeit in small doses) gave it the right amount of absurdity, even more so because the siege takes place in various locations.
And she bellowed out possibly the most impressive sustained cry for help I’ve heard
Move over, Barbra Streisand!
And immediately after the siege, at her moment of triumph in saving the day, Patricia’s prints were found on a gun and Alison was promptly arrested; her eyes glistening, her lips quivering and her voice breaking with an emotion that evoked the spirit of the wonderfully neurotic Patricia of old. Her over the shoulder plea of "Help me" is firmly embedded in my mind from the first time round and I’m truly impressed by how exhilarating I’m finding it in 2019
After all her efforts to avoid the police I thought this was a fantastic cliffhanger, but I also felt a sense of relief that this storyline was going to end one way or another.
There’s a sense of cohesion that’s been absent for a while. Characters paths are more tightly entwined: an action in one storyline has a consequence in another.
Yes, and that couldn't have happened if it had been only two episodes.

A blow on the head sends Wayne into a state of a feverish delirium (the first and probably the last time this happened on television), Gordon's study suddenly resembles a location in the jungle and at some point I almost expected a rain storm inside the room.
From this angle it almost looks like a real room, also because the window with the bars is visible on the outside of the mansion.
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But what an odd place to put the window, unless it's a basement.
But Patricia is now Alison
Yes, she makes it very clear in episode 761's all's well that ends well-scene. I could think of several pro and con arguments, but since it is what it is I think it's easier to go with the flow.

I also remember Debbie's spontanous combustion...oh wait, maybe it's a subconscious wish rather than a memory.
However, I do get some sadistic pleasure out of the fact that the Lynn-haters are going to have to deal with a character who's ten times worse.

We also need to talk about Caroline.
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Dressed in a black Christmas tree, but that's the good news.

Her arc has developed into a revenge story (Alison, Doug, Beryl) and it's not that it doesn't make sense, but it comes across as a poor man's Patricia.
Abigail definitely has her moments in Sons and Daughters, but the catty aggressor role doesn't work for me at all.
There's potential in the Doug Fletcher character, I could imagine him being in CONNIE, but nothing really interesting has happened so far.
Nevertheless, I found it funny-bizarre when he ordered Andy to take a walk in the heavy rain.
 
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