SeaChange-Series 2-Episodes 7-13: Playing with Fire (1999)

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Released 9-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 357:36 (Case: 359)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Steve Jodrell
Brendan Maher
Paul Moloney
Deb Cox

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sigrid Thornton
Cassandra Magrath
Kane McNay
Paul English
Patrick Dickson
David Wenham
William McInnes
John Howard
Kerry Armstrong
Cameron Nugent
Bryony Price
Jill Forster
Alan Cassell
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Richard Pleasance

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Following on from Series 2, Volume 1, here we have the last 7 episodes from the second series of this influential and popular Australian ABC show. The charm continues as Laura Gibson tries to come to terms with the pregnancy of her sister by her former husband. Also making things interesting to the Pearl Bay magistrate is the continuing presence of Max Connors, who both interests and frustrates Laura. It's more good fun from our wacky friends in Pearl Bay, cut off from the rest of the world by the perpetually broken bridge. A good series and the quality of the first season carries through in this second series.

Series 2, Episodes 20-26

Disc 1
1. Looking Forward To The Past (#20, 1999)   -   50:19   Directed by Steve Jodrell
 Written by Andrew Knight and Tim Pye

Starring:  Alex Schepisi as Imogen Wilkes.

    Laura struggles to get her head around the recent events in her life - the news that her former husband Jack, with whom reconciliation was a possibility, has fathered a child with Laura's sister Trudi. While this has rocked her world, it's also Miranda and Rupert who suffer while the two adults fight.

    While domestic bliss evades Laura, Max finally gets the call he's been waiting for. With a posting in Kosovo waiting, it's all Max can do to get out of town and onto a plane. Of course, nothing can be simple in Pearl Bay and due to a freak car accident on the way out of town, Max is injured. While the injuries aren't life-threatening, they do prevent him from flying out on the next plane. Sergeant Grey also has his investigations to carry out, as the accident appears to have been caused by a visitor to the bayside shire, Imogen Wilkes.

    Pearl Bay is on the eve of its annual Pork Festival. Held each year in honour of the town's pork industry (now gone for over 30 years), the festival looks to be on the verge of a new lease of life as mover and shaker Bob Jelly has secured a sponsor for the festival, the U.S. fast food franchise Tony's Hot Ribs. With a major sponsor on board, the festival can once again be a main event, but at what cost?

    And in the midst of all this, the corporate representative for Tony's Hot Ribs, Ms. Wilkes, is also in town to see Angus, an old boyfriend. It's news from Imogen that tests the relationship between Angus and Karen.

2. Manna From Heaven (#21, 1999)   -   51:42   Directed by Steve Jodrell
Written by Andrew Knight and Deb Cox

Starring:  Julia Blake as Tenzin Jetsunma, Brett Swain as Griff and David Wicks as Gavin Clooney.

    Kevin is haunted by a dream about a mysterious woman. He finds it even more strange when that woman actually comes to Pearl Bay.

    Pearl Bay is falling apart. Eaten away from the inside, it's a plague of a voracious wood borers that threatens every bit of timber in the town, from Laura's house to the courthouse. Bob Jelly tries to blame a local pest controller, whom he describes as incompetent because of his inability to rid the community of the wood borer, but the pest controller pleads no contest as the strain of borer loose in the town is almost indestructible.

    A former town resident, Mabel Pearson (now known as Tenzin Jetsunma) has returned to Pearl Bay. Some, especially Meredith, are not happy to see her. Once a rival for the affections of Harold, Tenzin now comes with a new look at life through a spiritual reawakening in the Far East. She has returned to heal old wounds, but some wounds run deep.

    At the same time as all this is happening, Miranda is interviewing Meredith about the history of Pearl Bay. Because of Meredith's photographic memory, she is the perfect person to ask about the real stories of the town. It is strange, then, when she draws a blank on a particular date. No amount of coaxing can elicit any recollections from Meredith. In fact, many in the town have little to say about the date. Karma is the word as this strange day, the coming of the mysterious woman and the wood borers are all connected. What goes around, comes around.

3. Playing With Fire (#22, 1999)   -   50:50   Directed by Brendan Maher
Written by Stuart McDonald

Starring:  Bow Tasic as Felix Lewinski and Brett Swain as Griff.

    Heat does strange things to people. Imagine what it would do to the residents of Pearl Bay. Imagine no more, for the heat wave has arrived, and everyone is affected. The men of the town are seeing Laura in a new light. Far from being the straight-laced local magistrate, she appears to the men to have taken on a new air of attitude and sensuality. Most affected by this is Angus, who is convinced that Laura is continually 'coming on' to him.

    Also feeling the heat is Kevin, and it's his close but as yet uncommitted relationship with Phrani that is forced by the heat to come to a head. With marriage on his mind, will Phrani say yes or no?

    Max struggles as well to deal with the heat, and comes up with some innovative ways of dealing with limited success. Perhaps it's the heat, or something else, that drives him to ask Laura to dinner. When he proposes that the two sleep together, surely it must be the heat. When he ends up on top of her on the floor, it really is the heat, just not the type you might expect.

    And while Rupert and Trevor attempt to build their own rocket out of whatever is laying around, Miranda too is feeling the heat with the arrival of a pyrotechnics expert, Felix Lewinski. There are sparks between them, but is there meant to be fire?

Disc 2
4. Not Such Great Expectations (#23, 1999)   -   48:51   Directed by Brendan Maher
Written by Chris Hawkshank and Andrew Knight

Starring:  Rachel Maza as Mrs Armistead, Ian Scott as Theo Lawrence, Matthew Green as Lionel and Steve Vidler as The Ghost.

    Seeing that his son Craig might not quite excel in the scholastic department, Bob Jelly decides to initiate Craig into the world of real estate. While the younger Jelly is somewhat apprehensive about this possible future career, Bob seems certain that Craig will follow in his footsteps. When Bob and Craig visit one of their rental properties to evict a late paying tenant, they find the property in a huge state of disrepair and Bob decides that it's a perfect time for Craig to learn about the land rat trade by fixing up the property for a quick sale.

    Meanwhile, Max is trying to get started on his novel but is finding it hard to get the thing going. Coming up with several opening sentences, he meets a high degree of criticism from Laura, who questions each of his beginnings for the novel. And time isn't on his side, as the book's prospective publishers are waiting for chapters and Max has yet to produce anything.

    Laura is presented with a case of theft that requires more than just judgement in a judicial sense, as a young boy stands before the court charged and the judge's decision will make a profound impact on the young person's life.

    As all this goes on, Craig continues to work on the squandered rental property, but as he spends more and more time there, he begins to question his own future after the visitation of a ghost. And there is something else strange about the property...

5. Kitty Litter (#24, 1999)   -   50:39   Directed by Paul Moloney
Written by Andrew Knight

Starring:  Mark Lee as Brent Cauchi, Marion Heathfield as Cynthia Fitzwalter and Reg Evans as Lewis Murphy.

    Relationships past haunt more than one couple (or former couples as the case is here) as Laura and Jack come to loggerheads over the visitation arrangements of Miranda and Rupert. Rupert more than ever seems totally caught in the middle and torn in two directions as Laura forbids her son to visit Jack while her sister Trudi is in Jack's house. As Trudi is heavily pregnant with Jack's child and has relocated to Pearl Bay to be cared for by the father of her child. This puts the Gibson children in a bind.

    The other relationship complication is between Harold and his former wife Cynthia. While in court on a case of assault against her neighbour and the disputed ownership of a stray cat, Cynthia and Lewis Murphy are exposed as possible lovers in times past. While Harold and Cynthia are separated, this possible past indiscretion by his former wife puts him on the defensive.

    Max's television journalist mate Brent Cauchi has breezed into town to catch up with his old friend, and in meeting Laura, the television celebrity charm is turned up to 11. Checking with Max to see that he isn't stepping on any toes, Brent asks Laura on a date into the city, by helicopter no less. Having been given the all clear by Max, Brent sees this to be an easy conquest, one of many. Although Max projects the strong exterior, it's obvious that there is some jealousy involved. Meanwhile, Max has somehow become the custodian of the cat in the centre of the court case, despite the fact that his is violently allergic to cats.

    And as the case involving Harold's former wife and her neighbour and the cat continues, Laura tries on a bit of the wisdom of Solomon, only to have it go totally wrong.

6. Other Peoples' Opinions (#25, 1999)   -   52:19   Directed by Paul Moloney
Written by Andrea Denholm and Doug Macleod

Starring:  Raj Ryan as Ravi Kapoor, Matthew Green as Lionel, Brett Swain as Griff and Francis Greenslade as Simmo.

    Max has finally made it to Laura Gibson's bed. The only thing is that Laura didn't want him there and Max can't remember ending up there in the first place. After taking far too many antihistamines to ward off the cat allergies and washing them down with a glass of red wine, Max collapsed on Laura's bed, not to be awakened for quite some time. When the pair awake, it's an awkward time, especially as Miranda and Rupert are up. Laura forces him to exit via the window, only to find that most of the town's inhabitants are gathered outside.

    Sergeant Grey and Karen are investigating a strange fire lit at the site of the caravan park. While a fire might not be all that strange, it's the unusual Indian sculpture and jewellery that sit in the midst of the fire that provide the mystery. Most concerned about this occurrence is Phrani, who sees this as a sign, though she tells no one.

    Filmmaker Ravi Kapoor has strolled into town, with talk of a big budget 'Bollywood' production to be shot right in Pearl Bay. With mover and shaker Bob Jelly all over Ravi in the hopes of getting a cut of the 140 plus houses required for the cast and crew, Bob believes he is on a real winner.

    Meanwhile, Phrani's fears are confirmed as the Indian filmmaker comes to her shop and starts destroying things while no one is there to witness it. He wants money to fund his film, and Phrani is the key as he has information from her past that can force her to co-operate.

    When Trevor goes missing, last seen in the company of Ravi, Kevin becomes frustrated and questions weather he should have become involved with Phrani.

    And as all this goes on, Laura demands that Max print an explanation in the Pearl Bay Oyster about his leaving her house by the window. Unfortunately, truth can be a two edged sword.

7. Law And Order (#26, 1999)   -   52:56   Directed by Deb Cox and Paul Moloney
Written by Deb Cox

Starring:  Fiona Corke as Trudi Dawson, Peter Curtin as the Port Deakin Mayor, Jeremy Kewley as Geoff, Terry Kenwrick as the Senior Police Officer and Brett Swain as Griff.

    On the eve of the opening of the bridge between Pearl Bay and Port Deakin, Bob Jelly finds himself on the top of the world. He has organized an amalgamation of the two cities under a central municipality with himself in a prime position as the head of the Greater Shire Council. When news of this reaches Meredith (by Bob himself, no less), she is furious. So furious that she decides that Bob has to go, and with gun in hand, she'll be the one to do it.

    Laura finds herself in the wake of change again. After the news that all law matters will be taken up in Port Deakin reaches her, she begins to look forward to returning to the city and her former life as a corporate lawyer. Rupert and Miranda have other thoughts. As Laura struggles to clear the court cases before her, she finds herself swamped under as the entire community has undertaken a programme of civil disobedience and most of the townsfolk have several charges against them.

    All this is thrown into chaos as Meredith storms toward the courthouse with gun in hand and after firing several shots, is quickly taken inside by Harold and Max. Thinking quickly before Laura can investigate what's going on, Max declares that the courthouse is under siege by a mad woman and recipient of harsh judgement by Laura in a previous case and that none of the people in the court can leave. Leaving Laura to think that she is in a hostage situation, Max and Harold try to find a way to get Meredith out of the bind that she is in.

    Even as Laura is caught up in the drama, she can't accept the reach of her sister, who seeks reconciliation on the eve of the birth of her child. Although Laura wants nothing to do with her, Trudi is persistent.

    As the townsfolk prepare to spend the night as 'hostages' in the courthouse for the night, it's the relationships of Karen and Angus, Harold, Meredith and Heather, Kevin and Phrani and Max and Laura that begin to come to a beginning...or end as the case may be.

    The entire population of Pearl Bay stands at the crossroads, and it's up to the ever/never present Bucket to save the day.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     The video transfer here is reasonable, although there are a couple of flaws present.

     These discs present the programmes in their original full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio, and as expected there is no 16x9 enhancement.

     We have an acceptable level of sharpness here. Focus seems to wander a bit from time to time, but never to such an extent as to be a real problem. The high level of grain present does affect the clarity of the image at times, but this is the case with the previous incarnations of this show on disc, so it's totally expected. Shadow detail is okay, but not near any sort of reference quality. Seeing as this is a produced for television show, what we do get is acceptable. I had no problems with low level noise.

     Colour's use during this show is in a very natural context and these discs convey this colour use adequately.

    These discs have a similar average bitrate to the first season release of this show, but without the MPEG nasties that we saw there. The average bitrate on these discs is around 6.65 Mb/s, which is slightly down from Volume 1 of this season. Still, good enough to convey the show in a reasonable manner and again, without the dramas that occurred in the discs of Season 1. Grain is fairly consistent here as can be seen on Disc 1, Episode 1 at 5:06 and 37:20. There is a fairly noticeable hair on screen at 26:28 on the same disc and episode. Other video nasties such as aliasing and edge enhancement are pretty consistent with what we've seen on previous disc in this series.

     As with the others in the series, we have English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired here, and they are reasonably accurate while not being word for word.

     The discs in this collection are formatted dual layered, with the layer change on Disc 1 taking place within Episode 2 at 26:37 and at 1:43 on Disc 2 during Episode 6. As with the previous volume, these changes were noticeable but not particularly disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     We get an adequate audio transfer here, consistent with what we've seen before on discs in this series.

     There is only one audio option here, that being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded track running at a competent bitrate of 224 Kb/s.

     I found the dialogue quality to be good, while not exceptional. The spoken word us understandable throughout, but there is some distortion in the audio at times which sounds like overmiking. The prime examples of this are found on Disc 2 in Episode 6 at 47:15 and on Disc 2, Episode 7 at 3:51. Again, not terrible, but there and noticeable. I thought that audio sync was reasonable throughout.

     As with the rest of the series, it is music from Richard Pleasance and vocals from Wendy Morrison that feature. There are also some songs from Vica and Linda Bull in Episode 3. Consistent music and themes for the show that we have come to expect.

     Again, the mix here is adequate, though unremarkable with a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded mix that provides a limited atmospheric surround experience. My subwoofer was never troubled during this show.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Unlike the previous discs released in this series, this collection features no supplementary material whatsoever, save for the Synopsis Page.


     After the normal copyright warnings, we get the ABC logo followed by an ABC promo showing some of the programmes in the ABC stable available on video. After the promos, we get the Main Menu which offers us each of the episodes to select. A Subtitle option (with On or Off available) is also on screen.

     After selecting an episode, you are taken to its own menu which offers chapters for the episode labelled as Select a Scene (6 Chapters for each) and a Synopsis page with a single page run-down of each episode.

     That's all there is here, folks. Bare cupboard, indeed.

R4 vs R1

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

     At this point, the Region 4 releases are the only ones available worldwide.


     Despite the seemingly abrupt ending to this season (it looks like the limited 13 episode Australian television season caught up on the producers), the class, charm and entertainment set up in Season 1 continues through this wonderful Series 2. If you avoided this second series because of the departure of Diver Dan, don't rob yourself. This is still a highly entertaining programme. Roll on Series 3!

     The video is adequate.

     The audio is simple but adequate.

     There are no extras in this package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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