SeaChange-Series 1 (1998)

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Released 3-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Biographies-Character
Biographies-Cast
Synopsis
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 673:26 (Case: 750)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sigrid Thornton
David Wenham
John Howard
Kerry Armstrong
Kevin Harrington
Alan Cassell
Tom Long
Georgina Naidu
Kate Atkinson
Jill Forster
Christopher Lyons
Kane McNay
Cassandra Magrath
Case Gatefold
RPI $99.95 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 None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, The last episode. Watch after the credits!

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

Plot Synopsis

    Charming. That's the word I'd have to use if I'm to describe this wonderful series. Absolutely filled with pure charm. But...make no mistake, charm isn't the only thing this show has going for it, and believe me, it does indeed have a tonne going for it.

    Think of it this way: What if you had a soapie (a.k.a. continuing drama) that had not only great acting but good writing as well? Well, then you'd probably have a really great show. This is exactly what we have here. Okay, so the premise isn't the most original idea with a concept that's been used in everything from Green Acres to The Byrds of Paradise (reaching a bit, but all true). As we've seen in recent times, you don't have to have the most original idea to make an interesting film. Take for example The Matrix, which is a blend of Japanese manga and Hong Kong action flicks.

    So, I've gone from Green Acres to The Byrds of Paradise to The Matrix. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. If you've never seen this series, then you're in for a treat. It all starts with a lawyer working in corporate law in Melbourne, working flat out for her firm trying to make partner while not paying too much attention to her family (I've seen this scenario before - Kramer vs. Kramer anyone?). Before she knows it, her whole world is turned on its head and a complete change of scenery is in order. But it isn't just the scenery that changes, but her whole way of life as well.

Warning. These plot synopsis may contain some spoilers.

Disc 1

Episode 1. Something Rich and Strange  Director: Michael Carson  49:40

    Laura Gibson (The Man from Snowy River, Paradise: TV ) is on top of her world. She is just about to see through a corporate deal that could get her a partnership in her law firm. She's done the hard work, done the long yards, made all the right deals and come up on top...or so she thinks. In one day it all comes crashing down on her head as her husband is charged with fraud. Gone is the chance of the partnership, gone is her chance at the top and her family life isn't quite as solid as she thought it was. Taking the suggestion of her former partner (now gay, of course) she looks to a position as a local magistrate in a rural coastal shire. A real 'Sea Change' indeed.

Episode 2. Full Fathom Five  Director:  Michael Carson  51:56

    Seeking out the idyllic summer getaway that she enjoyed before her career (and life) went mad, Laura has bought a cottage in Pearl Bay where she spent her most memorable summer ever. In a time of crisis, this surely must be the place to return to. But memories are just that, memories, and the reality is somewhat different. Seeking out the real estate agent that sold her the summer getaway (now terribly dilapidated), she comes to meet local real estate agent and local shire president Bob Jelly (John HowardAlways Greener: TV) who just so happens to have the most powerful position of anyone in Pearl Bay and isn't afraid to hold it over anyone. Bob Jelly asks Laura and her children for a make-up dinner, but there are ulterior motives at hand. Combine all this with trying to adjust to life in an isolated rural community and poor Laura has a fair bit on her plate.

Episode 3. A Matter of Taste  Director:  Ray Argall  53:03

    Carmen, niece of local hotel owner Meredith, has comes to Pearl Bay with legal charges hanging over her and a little something else also pending. Laura has to come to terms with her new job that will increasingly have to conflict with her new-found friends. Sitting in judgement over Carmen, Laura is torn between the law and what is right. Meanwhile, Laura attempts to learn to cook from local identity 'Diver Dan' (David Wenham: The Boys) who runs a bait shop-cum-sandwich shop-cum-tackle shop-cum-ferry port-cum whatever.

Disc 2

Episode 4. The Official Story  Director:  Ray Argall  52:27

    Bob Jelly gets the chance to seek preselection for a federal senate seat with a right wing party ("They're not anti-Asian, they're just pro-Australian" says Bob). Meanwhile, town police officer Sgt. Grey is on the trail of a long time local with a mysterious past. The town as a whole isn't happy about Sgt. Grey's attentions and give him the cold shoulder. Laura's husband slips into Pearl Bay despite a court order preventing him being near her, but she puts up limited protest as the children Jack and Miranda are ecstatic about seeing their father. All this plus an annual pool competition where just about everyone is in the running and the stakes are...interesting. The loser must run down the main street in Pearl Bay in only their underwear.

Episode 5. The Fellowship of the Suit  Director:  Ali Ali  51:08

    Laura's sister Trudi has come to town, desperate to reconcile with her sister who has refused to speak to her since coming to Pearl Bay. The arrival of an attractive and single woman in the isolated community works the local lads into a frenzy and a group of four guys (including Diver Dan) fight over an Armani suit that the quartet purchased together to share. For the first time, all the owners are after the suit at the same time. Laura tries to put on a happy exterior for the sake of her children, but some wounds run deep.

Episode 6. One of the Gang  Director:  Ali Ali 52:32

    When a car is run off the end of the closed bridge out of Pearl Bay, the local constabulary is on the lookout for the driver (who wasn't in the sunken car). When the culprit is eventually found and brought before Laura, the town rallies behind the accused and Laura finds herself again at odds with the locals. Bob Jelly continues to work on getting the bridge between Pearl Bay and the mainland repaired as his property developments depend on it being done. Miranda takes up a suggestion by Carmen to indulge in the nude beach at Pearl Bay. Laura doesn't approve, but teenagers will be teenagers. Or will they?

Disc 3

Episode 7. Stormy Weather  Director:  Sue Brooks  51:51

    Diver Dan's ex-wife breezes into town with litigation on her mind. She has a score to settle with former boss Bob Jelly. She also still holds a great affection for Diver and has some further designs on him. Laura feels threatened by the new arrival and tries to compete with the attractive and hyper-athletic Dorothy. But all may not be as it seems (funny, that) and the upcoming courtroom battle may bring up more past revelations than many would care not to see the light of day.

Episode 8. My Own Sweetheart  Director:  Sue Brooks  51:45

    When Laura is invited to a legal function, she feels out of place without a partner and asks Diver Dan to accompany her. Instead, Diver, who comes before Laura for traffic offences, pleads guilty and asks for jail time instead of paying a fine. This would see him in jail at the time of their supposed date. Frustrated at Diver's actions, Laura decides to throw a spanner in Dan's works...with mixed results. Meanwhile, ex-magistrate Harold is also contemplating a stint in the lock-up and this has Meredith worried.

Episode 9. Balls and Friggin' Good Luck  Director:  Mandy Smith  51:51

    After a single car accident kills one of Pearl Bay's more popular teenagers, the town struggles to understand and an inquest begins into the tragedy. The inquest raises many more questions than it answers. Laura's son Rupert dramatically withdraws into himself and some interventions by Diver Dan to instil the concept of manhood in Rupert anger Laura.

Disc 4

Episode 10. The Accidental Activist  Director:  Mandy Smith  50:44

    When one of Bob Jelly's proposed developments threatens Pearl Bay's premiere 'make-out' places, some in the community take matters into their own hands. After an assault on a guard at the development site, Bob's son Craig is implicated. Impressed by Craig's supposed stance for the environment, Miranda takes an interest in Craig. Meanwhile, Laura becomes interested in the supposed mystical properties of the development site which is said to have an irresistible amorous effect on couples that go there. Somehow, Laura and Diver Dan end up there together, with intriguing results.

Episode 11. Love Me or Leave Me  Director:  Paul Maloney  51:37

    The subject of domestic violence raises its ugly head with a case that puts one of Pearl Bay's popular citizens in the spotlight. This also puts Laura and Diver Dan at loggerheads with the law vs. justice debate being fought out. Bob Jelly's wife Heather tries out and lands the lead in a local play that sees her playing against an old flame. Jealousies arise as the play nears its opening.

Episode 12. Perchance to Dream  Director:  Paul Maloney  52:22

    Town shop owner and tax consultant Prahni adds an extra 'free' service to her tax consultancy:  fortune telling. When some of her proclamations toss doubt in the mind of Heather about her marriage, Bob seeks to have Prahni banned from tarot card reading. All this while, Laura contemplates her future in Pearl Bay and also her relationship with Diver Dan.

Episode 13. Sex, Death and Bridges  Director:  Paul Maloney  51:56

    Everything comes to a head with Laura and Dan finally agreeing to confront their ever-increasing desire for each other. But, spontaneity takes planning and Laura and Dan find it hard to get things together. Add to this the bridge into Pearl Bay finally being completed, leaving Bob Jelly on the brink of huge wealth and financial gain. But Bob seems uninterested and preoccupied with other things, especially his failing marriage. Carmen's baby is due and Meredith and Harold decide to contact their long-lost offspring who agrees to meet with them. Everything comes together in the end, but as you would expect it, not the way you may think.
 

    If you missed this likeable show first time around (as I did), then you really do owe it to yourself to have a look. Everyone raved on and on about this show when it first aired and the on/off warm/cold love/hate relationship between Laura and Diver Dan was always the talk of the office the day after the show was on. If you saw this the first time around and liked it, then this would be a worthwhile purchase as this program will not cease to entertain as the years go by. Timeless charm and wonderful storytelling. Very much recommended.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer quality presented on this disc is fairly average with an overabundance of MPEG artefacts visible throughout the program.

     This disc presents the program in its original full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio. This would probably have to be one of the last major television programs filmed in the old 1.33:1 aspect ratio and may date the material much faster than would otherwise be the case. This is not a slight on the material itself as the program content is fantastic, it's just that in later years some may look on this show as we do now on programs that were filmed in black and white. Perhaps if the producers had the foresight to film this in 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced, it would have far greater longevity. In the end, we have the program in its original aspect ratio, and as expected, there is no16x9 enhancement to be seen anywhere on these discs.

     Considering the level of MPEG artefacts and film grain present on the discs here, we get an acceptable level of sharpness that offers up the program material in a very watchable manner. There are some darker scenes and the level of shadow detail is reasonable. This program looks to have been shot on video first and then committed to film to give it a better look. This is an old trick that many in television have used for years as 60 Minutes (at least in the U.S.) has done for ages.

     Colour use and portrayal during the program material is quite good with a natural look seen throughout.

     The one major bane of these discs is MPEG artefacting. Sometimes, the effect is a very noticeable level of pixelization that can be seen throughout the program (Ep. 1: 12:27, Ep. 2: 36:25, Ep. 5: 2:45 are examples). At other times, the problem increases into outright macroblocking, especially during Episode 6 and is visible at 34:24, 39:25, 43:46, 47:05 and 47:51. It's also a problem during Episode 8 at 43:13. The number of compression artefacts is quite over-the-top and one would think unnecessary, as many longer programmes have been committed to disc with fewer compression problems. This looks to be just a sloppy job with not enough attention paid to the final product. Anyone familiar with Force Video titles will know the look of the MPEG artefacts they usually exhibit and this title suffers from the same. If you had told me that this series had been released by Force and I had seen the image, I'd not even question it. A real shame this is, too, as this series deserved better. There is some edge enhancement (isn't there always?) to be seen here with an example in Ep. 3: 24:50. This is by no means an isolated example with the artefact readily visible throughout the series. There is also chroma noise visible from time to time with examples in Ep. 6 at 41:11 and 45:13. Because of the image being committed to film at some stage, there are some minor white flecks that dot the screen from time to time. These are not to a distracting level, but only hint at the involvement of film, probably in post production. Grain is fairly evident throughout the series and the excessive pixelization only serves to enhance the grain. There is some aliasing visible at times but it isn't a real problem.

     There are no subtitles available with this title. This is a shame as there are no additional language options available on this disc which leaves this series unavailable to persons that do not use English as their native tongue. Unfortunate, as my Italian mother-in-law would probably have liked to have watched this.

     The 4 discs that make up this series are RSDL formatted, but with the exception of Disc 2 I was unable to spot any layer changes which leads me to suspect that the changes may occur between episodes. The layer change on Disc 2 takes place during Episode 5 at 30:27. The change isn't very distracting and probably will go unnoticed by many.

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

Audio

  

     The audio for this program isn't overly remarkable but serves the material well.

    There is only one audio track available with this series, that being a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded mix. Again, non-English speakers are left without any text or audio support which is unfortunate.

     The dialogue quality during the entire series is very good with the spoken word always audible and clear.

     For the most part, the audio sync is good with the only slightly out portion being in Ep. 2: 41:45 where the dialogue almost sounds looped. The sound is also slightly out at 49:04. These are niggling observations and do not detract in any way from one's enjoyment of the program.

     The music for the series is by Richard Pleasance, and it perfectly suits the feel of the show. The opening credits music completely captures the transition from the hectic pace of city life to the relaxed seaside environs of Pearl Bay. Never drawing attention to itself, the score is a perfect match to the goings-on on-screen. The end credit number, aptly titled Seachange, is a laid-back number that sees out the show in a relaxed style. Singer Wendy Morrison lends her vocal talents to the end credit number.

     Although this disc features a surround encoded Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, there is not much for the rears to do and they are limited to a very basic atmospheric role.

     The subwoofer does get its share of duties, but these mostly serve the programme's soundtrack and back up the front channels in the bass and percussion departments. Little of the goings-on on-screen make their way to the LFE channel.

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

Extras

     Despite this being a 4 disc set, extras are a bit thin on the ground here.

Menu

     After the copyright warnings and distributor's promos, the discs take you to their main menus which are animated with audio from the series soundtrack that loops endlessly until a selection is made from the menu. The typical menu layout for all discs is 3 (or 4 on Disc 4) episodes listed on the main menu. Selecting the appropriate episode takes the viewer to a second sub-menu with Play, Scene Selection (animated) and Synopsis options available. The Play and Scene Selection menus are animated and feature audio that varies from episode to episode. The Synopsis screens are always silent and static.

Cast and Character Bios

     One interesting extra is available on Disc 1, with bios available for not only the actors in the series, but the characters they play as well. These go into a fair bit of detail and list each character's favourites including things such as Favourite Film, Greatest Achievement and the like. Fun reading. The cast bios are also interesting and give a bit more insight into some of the series' lesser known actors. There are 17 separate bios available. All are silent and static.

R4 vs R1

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

     At this time, this series is only available in Region 4.

Summary

     I found it hard to fault this series in any real way and in my opinion this first series hit the nail on the head. A great mix of interesting and engaging characters are brought to life in a manner that makes you care about what happens to these people. Although slightly silly at times (an Australian trademark and almost a requirement for any Australian film production) this program exudes charm from the word go. If you are disillusioned with the endless mindnumbing soapies that drone on for years and go nowhere, take a trip to a different place and become enthralled by a more interesting group of people. Unlike regular soapies, this does reward the viewer and makes one long for more (there is a second series coming soon). Haven't seen it? See it! Seen it? Enjoy all over again. It's worth it.

     The video is fairly poor with an excessive number of MPEG artefacts visible throughout the program material. Grain and some edge enhancement don't help. The program should have been shot in something other than 1.33:1 (full frame) as a 1.78:1 or similar aspect ratio would have served the program better and given the series a better chance of longevity.

     The audio is satisfactory with a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (just) mix available.

     The extras are quite minimal with only cast and character bios available on Disc 1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Friday, November 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews
MovieHole - Clint M
Web Wombat - James A
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Roger L
DVD Net - Anthony Clarke
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
The DVD Bits - Dean B

Comments (Add)
how disappointing - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)