McLeod's Daughters-The Complete First Series (2001)

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Released 9-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Movie
Synopsis-Episode synopses
Featurette-The Inside Story
Biographies-Cast
Interviews-Crew-Posie Graeme-Evans, Creator and Executive Producer
Interviews-Crew-Andrew Blaxland, Production Executive
Interviews-Crew-Carl Zwicky, Director
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 1040:41
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor
Millenium Pictures
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Bridie Carter
Lisa Chappell
Jessica Napier
Rachael Carpani
Aaron Jeffrey
Myles Pollard
Sonia Todd
Case ?
RPI $119.95 Music Chris Harriott
Neil Sutherland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1996, Posie Graeme-Evans produced a TV movie called McCleod’s Daughters about a girl who returns to her childhood home in the country after her mother dies to rediscover her father and her half-sister. In 2000, Graeme-Evans convinced Channel 9 Australia to fund a series based on the premise of the TV movie and thus was born a new Australian drama that celebrated country life and provided strong female role models for the working-class youth of Australia.

    The basic outline of the series goes something like this: when John McCleod (‘Jack’ to his friends) dies, his daughter Claire (Lisa Chappell) is left managing the farm. However, her half-sister from a later marriage Tess (Bridie Carter) has also received a half share of the property by execution of Jack’s will. Tess is a consummate city girl, having spent only a few short years on the farm before her parents separated and she moved to Adelaide. Tess travels to the farm, Drover’s Run, to meet with her sister and discuss the sale of the property to fund her own dreams in the city. But she arrives to the farm on struggling times and is soon caught up in the country life. What begins as an attempt to maximise the worth of her asset becomes a personal journey of self-discovery and of repairing the distant relationship with her half-sister.

    Also living on the farm are the housekeeper Meg (Sonia Todd) and her spoilt daughter Jodi (Rachael Carpani) plus the town tramp Beck (Jessica Napier). Next door at the Kilgarnie farm are the Ryan boys – Alex (Aaron Jeffrey) and Nick (Myles Pollard) – and their mean father Harry (Marshall Napier).

    The episodes themselves break down a little like this:

Disc 1

    Original TV Movie (94:54) -- This is the original movie which set up the series. Although factually different in several respects and with a completely different cast, it holds up reasonably well for an Australian TV movie, which tend to be quite bad more often than not.

    1. Welcome Home (43:12) -- When Tess McLeod discovers her father has died, after also recently losing her mother, she travels to the farm where she spent her early childhood to discuss the sale of the farm with her half-sister Claire. But when Claire realises her employees have been stealing fuel from her, she fires them knowing that this may spell the end for her farm.

    2. Ducks On The Pond (43:24) -- With a wool shipment due soon, a shearing crew arrives at Drover’s Run to help out. But when the boss of the group gets in a dispute he pulls out before finishing the job and the girls must work all night to complete the task.

Disc 2

    3. Don’t Mess With The Girls (41:51) -- The rodeo is on in town and everybody is getting drunk. But when Tess finds Beck in a dishevelled state, ranting about being raped, can she believe a girl with a reputation for sleeping around?

    4. Who’s The Boss? (42:54) -- Jodi gets her High School results and realises that life is not as easy as it always seems from her privileged perspective.

    5. Taking The Reins (41:49) -- Jack’s old horse Sirocco is sick, bringing up some of the painful truths about the final days between Claire and Jack which Tess feels she must help her sister through.

    6. Reality Bites (43:35) -- Tess is desperate to help her sister on the farm, but Claire is resistant. Becky goes home to help out her mother and discovers that life is much better out at Drover’s Run.

Disc 3

    7. Pride And Joy (42:48) -- A wild bull is knocking down fences, giving Harry the opportunity to encroach upon Drover’s Run. Will Claire let him get away with indebting herself to him? Or will she bite the bullet in hard times and make a sacrifice?

    8. Stir Crazy (42:33) -- It is the middle of summer, with baking hot days and steamy nights. The horses are on heat and the humans are on heat as well, which all culminates in some amusing results.

    9. Into The Woods (43:26) -- When a wild boar gores the McLeod’s working dog, Roy, the girls go on a hunting trip with the Ryan boys.

    10. Haunted (41:56) -- The McLeod sisters are first upon the scene at a car accident in the middle of nowhere. With an ambulance two hours away, they struggle to save the victims. But the aftermath of the trauma both experience will have more lasting consequences for the girls. At the same time, Becky comes face to face with the man she accuses of raping her.

Disc 4

    11. Who’s A Big Girl Now? (42:24) -- It is Jodi’s 18th birthday and the girls at Drover’s Run have planned her a surprise party. But Jodi’s mother is worried about her little girl growing up.

    12. Pandora’s Box (42:53) -- At a dinner with the Ryans, Tess stumbles upon the Ryan family secret regarding how Nick was badly injured. She does not understand why the people in the country repress their problems rather than dealing with them openly.

    13. Love Of My Life (43:58) -- The McLeod’s other neighbours are packing up, but after a garage sale, the property catches fire. Claire saves her neighbour only to discover that he lit the fire himself and intended to die.

    14. Dirty Pool (42:53) -- Somebody is rustling cattle, and it might have something to do with Claire’s actions in the past. At the same time, Meg is taking a break at the Gangullan Hotel in town.

Disc 5

    15. If The Boot Fits (43:07) -- Becky’s brother is out of jail and roping her younger brother into some illegal activity. While Becky travels around with the mailman, she stumbles onto various clues as to what is really going on behind her brother’s new found cash flow. At the same time, Claire goes to a lecture on horse breeding with Alex and leaves Tess in charge of the farm.

    16. Playing To Win (42:57) -- Harry is worried about getting old, and when he injures himself in a tractor accident he changes his will, bequeathing the farm to both his boys jointly rather than to the oldest, Alex, on his own.

    17. Girls Night Out (43:01) -- When a deal pays off big for the McLeods, the girls are in town partying. But the only place open is the pub and Becky fears meeting the man she accuses of raping her.

    18. More Than One Way (42:46) -- A big horse training contract is up for grabs, but when Claire injures her knee she must convince the agent to let Jodi ride in her place.

Disc 6

    19. The Italian Stallion (42:46) -- Jodi falls in love with an Italian tourist who saves her life, but Meg discovers that there is more to this tourist than at first appears.

    20. Lover Come Back (42:57) -- Tensions are at an all time high, with Becky and Jodi and Meg fighting over Jodi not pulling her weight, Tess and Alex fighting over petty things and Claire and Alex fighting over a bull that just will not stay where it is meant to.

    21. Friends Like These (43:42) -- Two of Tess’ friends come to visit from the city, but Tess finds that the dream she shared with them of owning a cafe may have fallen by the wayside in preference to her life in the country.

    22. Deep Water (43:56) -- Jodi is organising a polo match on Drover’s Run, but when the man Becky accused of raping her turns up dead in the back lake on the farm, the girls must decide whether to conceal the crime to protect a friend.

    I am a big proponent of gender equality and strong female role models. The films of James Cameron probably instilled this in me, but I have also been a big fan of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer for the entirety of the series and also quite enjoyed Dark Angel during its brief run. I also have a lot of female friends and they all watch this show. I had given it a go a couple of times on TV, but could never get into it. I figured, though, that without ads the show might play a little better and so I picked it up when it came out for review.

    Overall, I have to say it is a high quality Australian drama series, and, yes, it plays a lot better without all the ads that commercial TV crams on during the show’s prime-time timeslot. Sure, it can be a bit hackneyed and try-hard, and at times it also feels like an advertisement for Tourism South Australia or Rivers and R. M. Williams clothing. But if you can put this behind you it actually holds up reasonably well – playing more to your heartstrings than your intellect but, hey, it’s entertainment and not every show can be as well written as The West Wing.

    While definitely a very Australian show, this is no Brides Of Christ – it does not attack social issues in Australia quite as well, and the writing is not as intellectual. But it is definitely an emotive series, and at its best it certainly shows the humanity and the hardship of life in the country, struggling not only against the same elements as everybody else, but in this instance also the gender issue. There are definite stand-out episodes, such as Taking The Reins, Stir Crazy and the season finale Deep Water, and there are also some real go-nowhere storylines and flat pieces. Of course all of that is subjective, and who am I to argue with a bunch of Logie Awards?

    If you are a fan of the show, I would have to say that this is a must have – it has the entirety of the first season plus the telemovie that started it all. If you like good quality Australian drama with very high production values for television, give this a go. You never know, you might even be pleasantly surprised.

    Unless otherwise specified, all extras are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack.

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has some clips playing in an oval window on the left hand side of the screen and the theme music playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

    Because I have not received the original packaging I do not know if this series comes with a booklet or not. However, each disc comes with a plot synopsis which is very handy if you want to scroll back through the discs and work out which episode was which and which ones you want to watch again. The synopses are merely a still frame.

Biographies

    There is biographical information for the main cast here, generally no more than three still frames per cast member. The information is fairly rudimentary, but still interesting. Funnily enough, these biographies are on every disc.

Disc One: Documentary - “Inside Story” (10:47)

    Series producer Posie Graeme-Evans and others involved in the production of the show talk about the logistical nightmare involved in shooting a show this complex. Quite interesting stuff, and not really a promotional featurette.

Disc Two: Interview With Posie Graeme-Evans, Series Creator (32:14)

    A very extensive interview with the series creator discussing what she wanted to achieve with the show and how she went about achieving it.

Disc Three: Interview With Andrew Blaxland, Production Executive (23:48)

    This is an in-depth interview covering the making of the show. Rather than being a promotional style piece with continual slots of footage, the feature is dominated by the interview, and the insights Blaxland has into the series.

Disc Four: Interview With Carl Zwicky, Director (14:19)

    Another extensive interview (though not as extensive as the two previous ones) focusing on informative elements rather than promotional aspects. This one is with one of the regular directors of the show, talking about how difficult it is to sometimes shoot this series, but that such difficulty is vitiated by the amount of fun involved.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Fans can rejoice – the discs are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio of the series, meaning that all those glorious vistas of outback South Australia are reproduced intact. Sure, a 2.35:1 aspect ratio would have been better for some of those shots, but this is TV and 1.78:1 is about the best you can expect until everybody upgrades to widescreen televisions.

    The original telemovie is presented in 1.33:1, 16x9 enhanced (black bars down the sides of the picture). The transfer of the telemovie is overall a little too soft and also relatively grainy. Colour is off, being too red, meaning that flesh tones are off, and sometimes blend into wood finishing in the background or the like. I spotted some mild low-level noise in the background and some rather bad aliasing at 26:20 - 26:32 on a stack of newspapers.

    As far as the episodes go, I think the order of the day for picture transfer quality here is inconsistency. Some episodes are immaculately transferred. Others, not so well. In particular, the episodes on the first disc are pretty bad – not unwatchable, but not very easy on the eyes either.

    The big fault with picture quality tends to do with excessive graininess which at times results in rather nasty low-level noise, particularly in the background imagery. The first disc exhibits this fault rather badly, but most of the other discs are relatively clean and clear, the graininess only really apparent in shots that are not so well lit. This probably has to do with the fact that so much information is crammed on the first disc, and the producers might have thought twice about that. But hindsight is no substitute for foresight, so ...

    Other than the criticism of the graininess, there is not all that much to say. In every other respect, the transfer is exceptionally good. Colours are very well saturated and well balanced. There were no problems with definition – the image is generally very sharp and easy to discern. Shadow detail is pretty good (although darker shots are often assisted by lighting of some kind) and detail is captured quite well – you can see the fine hairs on arms and faces in close up shots, the texture of polo-fleece fabric, blades of grass swaying in the wind, the grain of fur or wool on various farm animals.

    There are no major or glaring MPEG artefacts for the whole season, although as noticed there is a fair amount of low-level noise on the first disc and a little in the shadowy parts or background scenery on all the other discs. This graininess and low-level noise resulted in some posterisation during the episodes on the first disc and some dot-crawl on signs. There is some persistent dot crawl on the wooden slat awning around the verandah on the homestead at Drover’s Run when seen from a distance. This artefact is present on every disc.

    There was the very occasional dot of dirt which was so rare across twenty-two episodes that it barely rates a mention. There were a couple of instances where the film was blurry, probably because the camera was not quite in focus. See 21:48 - 22:06 during the episode Who’s The Boss?. I also spotted a big line down the middle of the screen at 29:06 - 29:29 during the episode Who’s A Big Girl Now?

    There are no subtitles, which is very odd for a Columbia TriStar release in Australia, which generally have every subtitle language you can imagine.

    The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes, with two episodes per layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    I am not sure if the show was originally filmed with an English 5.1 Dolby Digital mix in mind, but it is presented here in that format and is all the better for it. It was originally broadcast in 2.0 Dolby Surround (the logo appears in the bottom left corner in later episodes), and so the transition to 5.1 Dolby Digital was probably not all that hard to make.

    Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand throughout the series, and indeed the sound field is often dominated by dialogue coming predominantly from the centre speaker. There were no audio sync problems that I detected.

    There were, however, a few instances during the episode Lover Come Back where the sound went all echoey as if it were recorded in a very roomy hall. These instances are at 28:41 - 28:56, 29:29 - 30:00 and 31:30 - 31:44.

    There is always plenty of surround information, but it is not totally overwhelming. I noticed some very good use of the rears at 19:25 - 20:08 when a freight train rumbles along the back speakers. In general, however, the rears put out a fair amount of ambient noise, like farm animal sounds or crickets in the grass, and other outdoor bush noises.

    The score is excellently rendered here, with a fantastic range and a full enveloping presence.

    The subwoofer is not heavily utilised, but it is still given a reasonably good workout by the score. There is also the odd instance where it adds depth to an explosion or the rumble of fire, but generally the various rifle-shots are fleshed out by bass in general and do not stir the subwoofer especially much.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Unless otherwise specified, all extras are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack.

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has some clips playing in an oval window on the left hand side of the screen and the theme music playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Plot Synopsis

    Because I have not received the original packaging I do not know if this series comes with a booklet or not. However, each disc comes with a plot synopsis which is very handy if you want to scroll back through the discs and work out which episode was which and which ones you want to watch again. The synopses are merely a still frame.

Biographies

    There is biographical information for the main cast here, generally no more than three still frames per cast member. The information is fairly rudimentary, but still interesting. Funnily enough, these biographies are on every disc.

Disc One: Documentary - “Inside Story” (10:47)

    Series producer Posie Graeme-Evans and others involved in the production of the show talk about the logistical nightmare involved in shooting a show this complex. Quite interesting stuff, and not really a promotional featurette.

Disc Two: Interview With Posie Graeme-Evans, Series Creator (32:14)

    A very extensive interview with the series creator discussing what she wanted to achieve with the show and how she went about achieving it.

Disc Three: Interview With Andrew Blaxland, Production Executive (23:48)

    This is an in-depth interview covering the making of the show. Rather than being a promotional style piece with continual slots of footage, the feature is dominated by the interview, and the insights Blaxland has into the series.

Disc Four: Interview With Carl Zwicky, Director (14:19)

    Another extensive interview (though not as extensive as the two previous ones) focusing on informative elements rather than promotional aspects. This one is with one of the regular directors of the show, talking about how difficult it is to sometimes shoot this series, but that such difficulty is vitiated by the amount of fun involved.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Currently, this series is only available in Australia.

Summary

    McCleod’s Daughters – Season 1 is a high quality Australian drama. Hopefully series creator Posie Graeme-Evans can keep this show fresh and end it before it goes stale like Blue Heelers did ... seven years ago. But only time will tell.

    The video is a little inconsistent, but overall pretty good. It is very good to see this show in its original 16x9 enhanced format.

    The sound is great for a TV series, and although it doesn’t quite have the ambience of a modern movie, it is definitely better than what was available via broadcast.

    The extras aren’t overly numerous, but those provided are quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
McCleod’s Daughters Audio - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
BRING CLAIRE BACK -
Re: BRING CLAIRE BACK - Mimi - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)