Grass Roots: episode guide

Series 1 | Series 2

Art

Episode 2.01 (9)
March 19, 2003 (ABC)
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Bad weather cancels Arcadia Waters' Big Event for a Good Cause — the Amnesty International Candlelight Vigil. Mayor Col Dunkley and Helen go back to his place to plan a publicity campaign for the following day's arrival of a visiting art expert from London. The storm gets worse, power lines are brought down, and Col and Helen are trapped in total darkness, cut off from the rest of the world. It seems fate has thrown them into each other's arms… literally.

In another part of town, George is busy getting hold of as many tarpaulins as he can, while Greg is trying to get past a police and emergency services blockade.

The full extent of the storm's damage becomes evident when, at a specially convened emergency meeting, Greg explains that he is in charge and is cancelling all business except essential works. Col protests that the visiting art expert is already on her way, and Greg is persuaded to make the judging of the art prize the only exception to his rule.

With some tension evident between them, Col and Helen meet Faith Twohill, the visiting art expert. Col leaves to deal with some storm business and Faith selects her winner. But there's a problem — the chosen work is by Ned Schumaker, the son of Councillor Karin Schumaker, and it came in past the deadline. When Helen tells Faith the work is ineligible, she refuses to award a prize at all. It all looks like collapsing and Col refuses to get involved, telling Helen it's up to her to sort out what's needed to ensure the art prize is awarded.

Guest starring: Gabrielle Adkins as Wanda Rees, Rachael Blake as Faith Twohill, Chelsea Brown as Stephanie Gruen, Peter Carroll as Rev Peter Summerhaze, Alan Cinis as Justin Thyer, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Carniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Sawah Mandikis, John Gregg as Morgan Bartok, Peter Kowitz as Warwick Marchant, Paul Pantano as Ned Schumaker, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung

2003 Australian Film Institute Awards
Nominee: Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama or Comedy (Sacha Horler)

Prostitution

Episode 2.02 (10)
March 26, 2003
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Col arrives home from the Art Prize ceremony to finds his estranged wife, Julie has returned. Helen arrives unexpectedly, determined to force Col to discuss the consequences of their night of passion, but leaves as soon as she sees Julie.

The next morning's local paper carries a front-page story with Biddy's accusation that Col rigged the Art Prize. With Col looking bad, Biddy presses for a Council meeting to choose the Mayor for the coming year.

Following Karin's suggestion, Col surprises Julie with flowers and chocolates, which lead to a romantic dinner. With the telephones off and the answering machine on, he misses the call to alert him that Councillor Victor Trujillo has been caught leaving an illegal brothel.

Next morning, the local paper carries the story about Victor, and Col sees his opportunity to win the Mayoral ballot. He presses Greg to arrange a Council meeting as soon as possible.

Col meets his faction to plan their attack on Victor, and is dismayed when they show him an anonymous scandal sheet that accuses Col of being on the payroll of a property developer. Col guesses that the author is Morgan Bartok.

When Helen confronts Col about their relationship, he tells her they were only ever going to be friends. Upset, she tells Liz she's leaving.

At the Council meeting, Col surprises everybody with his announcements. But it's Helen who has the last laugh!

Guest starring: Gabrielle Adkins as Wanda Rees, Rachael Blake as Faith Twohill, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Carniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, John Gregg as Morgan Bartok, Peter Kowitz as Warwick Marchant, Tara Morice as Julie Dunkley, Paul Pantano as Ned Schumaker, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Martin Vaughan as Lex Fisher, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung

Garbage

Episode 2.03 (11)
April 02, 2003
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Greg has a bold plan to save money with a new garbage and recycling scheme, which is timely, as it soon becomes clear that the garbos have gone on strike. Rubbish starts to pile up in the streets and when Col and Greg go to see Steve Rantzen, the operator of the privatised garbage service, they find the garbos picketing the depot and Steve in no mood to compromise.

The strike drags on and Col worries that the investigator from the Department of Local Government will arrive when the streets are filled with rotting garbage. Sure enough, Joe Ventimiglia turns up to begin his report into the Art Prize fiasco.

Having proposed that the middle of a garbage strike is the ideal time to hold a forum on waste management, Karin soon finds herself getting into a mess with a rowdy meeting. Meantime, Col meets Steve and the garbos to try to solve the strike. Just when Karin's forum is getting out of hand, Col returns to announce that the strike is over. There's just one detail he needs to check with the other Councillors — both parties have agreed to end the strike if Council will meet the cost of any redundancy payouts. Col promises that since only a couple of garbos want to get out of their jobs the figure won't be too high and the Councillors have no choice but to agree. Col is the hero of the night.

The strike ends, the accumulated rubbish is cleared. But then the dirt really starts to fly. Not only do the garbos have a surprise in store, but Joe's preliminary report is delivered.

Guest starring: Gabrielle Adkins as Wanda Rees, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, Tara Morice as Julie Dunkley, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Aaron Pederson as Joe Ventimiglia, Terry Serio as Steve Rontzen, Lani Tupu as Lynton Aubrey, Leah Vandenburg as Meera, Martin Vaughan as Lex Fisher, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung, William Zappa as Bernie De Lacey; Chris Argirousis as Jusef; Warren Ring as Angry Resident

Crime

Episode 2.04 (12)
April 09, 2003
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Col's and Julie's walk though a park on a warm summer night is spoiled when they witness a brutal bashing. After the attackers run away, they are shocked to find that the victim is Victor Trujillo, one of Biddy Marchant's team on Council. Col sees an opportunity. It looks like Victor was up to something, and if he was, he'll have to stand down from Council, a by-election will be held, and so Col and his team had better come up with a candidate. Biddy has realised the same thing and she already has a candidate on standby.

Col isn't at home when Drew Leonard calls in to complain about the traffic and noise in his street, generated by an annual Christmas lights display. His wife isn't well and all the noise keeps her awake. He talks to Julie and later she tells Col that she's promised Drew he'd do something. After all, he's the Mayor.

Col meets the new Media Manager, Emily Bell, freshly appointed by Greg, and is not impressed. Emily's first job is to see what can be done about Drew Leonard's problem with the Christmas lights, and to get onto the Police and find out the true story about Victor.

At a big Council Christmas function, Col learns that Harry has been speaking to the Labor Party head office. Col doesn't want another Party hack forced on him and would rather keep Head Office right out of it. Biddy holds a Christmas function at her house for her close friends. It seems that Emily Bell is one of them.

With the police accepting Victor's story that he was the innocent victim of a random attack, and the party Head Office trying to force an unelectable candidate on them, Col tells his faction that they are no longer going after Victor.

In the Council meeting that night, Col is surprised when Emily tells him that the Christmas lights problem is solved. In a touching final scene, Drew's neighbours sing carols to him and his wife, and Col and Julie watch while the lights are turned out. A happy community says goodnight.

Guest starring: Tony Barry as Drew Leonard, Lucy Bell as Emily Bell, Peter Carroll as Rev Peter Summerhaze, Alan Cinis as Justin Thyer, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, John Gregg as Morgan Bartok, Penne Hackforth-Jones as Loni Leonard, Philip Holder as Mick Majuric, Tara Morice as Julie Dunkley, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung; Chris Argirousis as Jusef; Sue Andrikidis as Neighbour, Prudence Granger as Ballet Girl, Panda Likoudis as Rocco, Alex Phillis as Boy, Samsor Safi as Ricky, Daisy Williams as Girl

Dogs

Episode 2.05 (13)
April 16, 2003
Written by Michael Brindley
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

On his morning beach walk, Harry steps in dog poo and gets mad. When no one else on Council will endorse his proposals for tougher rules on dogs, Harry gets even madder and goes straight to the local paper, which puts him on the front page. Col can see trouble ahead and warns Harry to drop the issue and shut up.

Biddy is also annoyed about Harry being on the front page. She made a sensible suggestion about adopting dung beetles to deal with dog poo, but again she has been ignored. Janice hears Biddy throwing up in the toilet and tells Col that she might be pregnant, which prompts Emily into a comment that reveals she knows Biddy. Col is angry that he's been deceived and puts Emily on notice that she's in danger of losing her job. She can prove her usefulness if she comes up with something to get dog poo off the front page.

Over the weekend, Harry goes on poo patrol on the local beach and catches a dog and its freshly dropped turd. The dog escapes, but Harry got its details from its tag.

Col gives Greg an instruction to get dog poo off the front pages, no matter what it costs. Greg's anti dog poo scheme is a bounty system, with cash paid for every dog poo brought in to Council.

Col gets the news that the owner of the dog Harry is still pursuing is a well known television personality, Ariadne Totos, and that she's threatening to take Council to court. Instead of going away, the dog poo story is getting even bigger with international media now paying attention.

The only way Col can rescue the whole dog poo disaster is to resurrect Biddy's idea of the dung beetles. Biddy is furious. Col has stolen her idea. Her attempt to control the microphone at the dung beetle launch is thwarted when Col turns up late with Ariadne. With some useful inside information provided by Emily, Col has persuaded Ariadne to drop her court action and pay a fine. Biddy looks as though she's beaten.

Finally, at home in a bad mood, she breaks the news to Warwick that she's pregnant. Suddenly he understands why she's depressed.

Guest starring: Tina Bursill as Ariadne Totos, Peter Carroll as Rev Peter Summerhaze, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, Elaine Hudson as Margaret Barr, Peter Kowitz as Warwick Marchant, Elizabeth Maywald as Kate Crosbie, Brian Meegan as Garrick Powell, Tara Morice as Julie Dunkley, Silvio Ofria as Paulie Del Favero, Mark Owen-Taylor as Andrew Abetz, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung, Yiani Andrikidis as The Kid; Chris Argirousis as Jusef

Egomania

Episode 2.06 (14)
April 23, 2003
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Col gets a warning from the head of the TAFE college that he will have to reduce the amount of time he devotes to the Council or lose his job. But this would mean the end of Col being Mayor. For Col's wife Julie, this is the opportunity for him to move out of playing politics. Col sees another solution, finding a way to increase his Mayoral allowance to cover his loss of income from teaching.

At a Surf Club sausage sizzle, Col is told that the club is working to get him an Australia Day award. Col is embarrassed. He's already indebted to the club for their support at election time. So their request for Council to grant them a liquor licence is hard to turn down. Later, at a Council site inspection, Col lobbies Karin, asking her to be the one to reject the surf club licence.

Biddy's spirits rise when she gets a call from Tony Ludovic, a Liberal party worker who trains party members seen to have a future in politics. Biddy suspects that her husband is behind this. He's unhappy about her being pregnant and this is his attempt to pressure her into not having the baby. Warwick convinces her that he had nothing to do with it.

At TAFE, Col learns that the only job for him is to be placed on the relief teaching list. When Col goes home to tell Julie the news, he finds a note from her telling him she's left him.

The Council meeting starts and Col is missing. Harry takes the chair and seizes the moment to push through the surf club's liquor licence application. Col arrives late and takes over the meeting. Biddy surprises everyone when she says that she would support his move to raise the Mayoral allowance. Then she adds a further surprise when she announces that the rumours are correct, she is pregnant, but she has no intention of stepping down from Council. After the meeting, Col goes home alone to an empty house.

Guest starring: Tony Barry as Drew Leonard, Bille Brown as Hector Abbott, Simon Bourke [Burke] as Tony Ludovic, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, Peter Kowitz as Warwick Marchant, Tara Morice as Julie Dunkley, Silvio Ofria as Paulie Del Favero, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung; Chris Argirousis as Jusef

Youth

Episode 2.07 (15)
April 30, 2003
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

After a meeting at the Labor Party headquarters, Harry wants Col to change his mind about opposing Morgan Bartok's giant shopping mall. Both sides of politics are supporting the mall and Col starts to worry that he's fighting a battle he can't win. Biddy has attacked the local Youth Centre, and Ruth Levine, the manager of the centre, visits Col to ask for his help.

Col has invited Karin to his house for a meeting with his faction to get her on side to support the Youth Centre. Harry tries to steer the meeting in the direction of supporting the shopping mall, but Col cuts him off and maintains his opposition in front of Karin. He even shows her a poster he's had made with his photo above the words, NO MALL. Karin suggests that they seek the support of the surrounding councils who will also be affected by the construction of the mall. Col acts on Karin's suggestion but gets little in the way of commitment from the mayors of the neighbouring Councils, and in the next day's paper he finds out why — Hillcrest Council is developing its own shopping mall, one as big as Morgan's proposal for Arcadia Waters, and to be built by a rival developer. It looks like the battle of the malls.

Col and George meet Morgan and it seems that the Rival Mall in Hillcrest has made Morgan receptive to the idea of some compromise on his part. In a second meeting with Morgan, Col presents a list of requirements to make the mall meet the social needs of the community.

Morgan accepts surprisingly easily, but then presents his own lists. Council will have to agree to meet substantial infrastructure costs to make the Arcadia Waters Mall more attractive to the State government than the Hillcrest Mall. And Col finds that, despite his efforts, he's still being left out of the process.

At the Council meeting, Col gets support for the Youth Centre by announcing that Morgan Bartok has agreed to fund the Centre as part of the deal negotiated by Col. Col tries to keep his position on the mall a secret, but outside the Council, Col is not happy when he sees that someone has put up his NO MALL poster all around the street. It looks like the person who did this is Karin.

Guest starring: Peter Carroll as Rev Peter Summerhaze, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Wadih Dona as Rory Crane, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, John Gregg as Morgan Bartok, Elaine Hudson as Margaret Barr, Rebecca Massey as Kirsten Boyle, Elizabeth Maywald as Kate Crosbie, Pia Miranda as Ruth Levine, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Leah Vandenberg as Meera, Martin Vaughan as Lex Fisher, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung; Felix Haywood as Brendan, Ivy Latimer as Chantelle; Chris Argirousis as Jusef

Cars

Episode 2.08 (16)
May 07, 2003
Written by Michael Brindley
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Col gets a tip-off that Biddy is holding a press conference to announce a forthcoming Parade of Classic Cars without him. Biddy's speech seems to be going well until Col arrives and cleverly takes the limelight from her without actually having to grab the microphone. Back at the Council, Col tells Bill Hooks, the promoter of the Car Parade, that he should be dealing with the Mayor from now on.

Liz gets into trouble for having prepared a budget for bringing childcare back under Council control. Greg warns her not to speak to Col or any of the Councillors about this. Col asks Greg to carry out all the necessary checks on the Car Parade and Greg promises that he will.

Karin tells Irene and Fran that Liz has figures to show that Council can afford to take back childcare but that she has been warned by Greg not to show them to anyone. Karin wonders if it might be a good idea for all the women on Council to get together and discuss this, and anything else they might have in common. Only Biddy is lukewarm about the idea. She's much more focussed on keeping hold of the Car Parade.

When Greg finally does his checks on the Car Parade, he discovers that the event is really a disguised car auction, that Council will make nothing out of it and that hardly anything is donated to any charity.

The women meet at Biddy's house and after a few drinks they decide to make a wish list of what they'd do if they were running the Council. Karin adds bringing childcare back in-house and they all agree. Next day, when Biddy photocopies the wish list, she is interrupted by Harry and accidentally leaves her original in the photocopy machine, where Harry finds it.

In the Council meeting, George surprises Bill when he says that his application doesn't comply because it contravenes Council policies on equity of access and equal employment opportunity. The Councillors vote to reject Bill Hooks's application. Harry launches into his attack on Biddy, reading from her wish list, accusing her of a plot to take over the Council. But it backfires on Harry when he hears that Irene and Fran were also at the meeting. Strengthened by the support she's getting from the other women as a result of Harry's attack, Biddy surprises everyone when she moves to take back childcare. Col can only watch while all the women on Council give Biddy praise.

Guest starring: Tony Barry as Drew Leonard, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Russell Dunstan as Bill Hocks, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, Peter Kowitz as Warwick Marchant, Elizabeth Maynard as Kate Crosbie, Paul Pantano as Ned Schumaker, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung; Chris Argirousis as Jusef

Investigation

Episode 2.09
May 14, 2003
Written by Michael Brindley
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

Col tries to win points with Karin by showing her a piece of land owned by Council which would be perfect for an art gallery. He fails. Karin is only going to be impressed with action. Col goes straight to see Greg to start some action, but Greg tells him that the Department of Local Government investigator, Joe Ventimiglia, is about to return to complete his inquiry into the performance of Arcadia Waters Council.

George warns Col that a DA submitted by a friend of Karin's is for a site adjoining Col's own house, and it's a hostel for Down's Syndrome adults. Later, Col asks Victor, in confidence, for his professional real estate agent's opinion of the effect of a Down's Syndrome hostel on his property values. Victor points to the floor.

A rumour that the investigator is only junior grade has Liz worried that he won't find anything. She'd really like him to discover the shady deal done by Greg with the blonde and sexy Marilyn Hennessy from the private childcare company. Greg has already ordered Liz not to have any conversations with Joe unless he is present.

Col's neighbours raise a lot of intolerant objections to the Downs' Syndrome hostel. Col tells Lynton that he won't give in to such ignorance. They wouldn't object to something like six luxury townhouses. Later he meets Lynton at the art gallery site and suggests that a way around the public opposition might be to build the hostel on this piece of land. That would leave the block of land next to Col's house open for some other sort of development.

The report from the Department of Local Government arrives and it is not good. It contains pages of accusations of malpractice and maladministration, all made by Biddy.

In a Council meeting, Col makes a brave stand. He declares that the report is a ringing endorsement of everything Council is doing. The department has done its worst, sending its toughest investigator, and they've come up with nothing. After the meeting, he tells Karin about the site swap for the hostel. He adds that Lynton seemed very keen to take on the site next door to his house. And Lynton is going to build six luxury townhouses.

Guest starring: Gabrielle Adkins as Wanda Rees, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, Mark Owen-Taylor as Andrew Abetz, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Aaron Pederson as Joe Ventimiglia, Denise Roberts as Christina, Lani Tupu as Lynton Aubrey, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung; Chris Argirousis as Jusef

By-election

Episode 2.10 (series finale)
May 21, 2003
Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Peter Andrikidis

When the death of the local member of State Parliament brings on a by-election, Karin tells Col that she's been asked by the Independent movement about Col as a possible candidate. He's not interested — all he wants is Karin's support in the coming Mayoral Ballot. Karin wants him do something to stop Morgan's shopping mall, and she wants Liz to see the report from the Department of Local Government. Col agrees. Liz finds that the Report contains damaging accusations about her and demands they be taken out. Greg warns Liz that when the report becomes a public document, some people might wonder if she is a suitable person to run a Council childcare service.

Col is told that Irene is about to desert him and vote for Biddy. He meets Irene who advises that she will not vote for him unless he gets rid of Harry.

George tells Col that the State Government is about to make an announcement, ahead of the Mayoral ballot, that Morgan's shopping mall is to go ahead. Col meets the Minister for Local Government and Morgan and promises to make a public statement in favour of the shopping mall if they will delay the announcement until after the Mayoral Ballot. The Minister agrees. Then Col asks him to take out the offensive sections of his department's Report — the sections concerning Liz. The Minister agrees.

Next morning, Greg finds himself confronted by an angry trio — Col, Karin and Liz. Col has been told by the Minister that the sections in the report about Liz were in retaliation to a letter Greg wrote threatening a sexual harassment charge by Liz against the investigator. Greg will have to write a grovelling letter to the Minister before the offensive sections will be taken out of the report.

Biddy tries to persuade Karin to join her team. When she won't, Biddy tells her that Col has done a deal with the Minister and that the shopping mall will go ahead. When Karin confronts Col about this, he shows evidence that Morgan was behind a bogus protest group which has been campaigning against the rival shopping mall.

Col calls Harry in and delivers the bad news. Harry will no longer be Deputy Mayor. Then he calls Irene in and tells her that he's done what she wanted. But Irene has pledged her support to Biddy. Col will have to do something dramatic if he wants to have any chance of being Mayor.

Col calls a Labor Party member and gets her to accuse Morgan under Parliamentary Privilege, of having set up a fraudulent protest group. The story goes straight to the news with the result that the Minster announces that the mall is off. Col has had a big win and this might just get Irene's vote back. But in the Council meeting, Harry makes a surprise announcement and resigns. Col no longer has any hope of being Mayor. He no longer has the numbers. Col withdraws his nomination and Biddy becomes Mayor. Greg tells Liz she can start packing her things because he wants her out. But Biddy comes to Liz's rescue and fires Greg.

Col tells Karin that he's learnt a lot from her. And he's also decided to run as the Independent candidate in the State Government by-election. As two Independents, they should make a good team.

Guest starring: Tony Barry as Drew Leonard, Mary Coustas as Ava Strick, Michael Craig as Gordon Mahon, Wadih Dona as Rory Crane, Russell Dunstan as Bill Hocks, Judi Farr as Janice Corniglio, Sandy Gore as Dr Salwah Mandikis, Peter Kowitz as Warwick Marchant, Brian Meegan as Garrick Powell, Nicholas Papademetriou as Victor Trujillo, Andrew Tighe as Lewis Preston, Kerry Walker as Fran Smith, Theresa Wong as Irene Cheung; Chris Argirousis as Jusef

2003 Australian Writers Guild Awards
Nominee: Television (series) - Geoffrey Atherden
2003 Australian Film Institute Awards
Winner: Best Screenplay In Television (Geoffrey Atherden)
Winner: Best Actor In A Supporting Or Guest Role In A Television Drama or Comedy (John Clayton)
Nominee: Best Direction In Television (Peter Andrikidis)
Nominee: Best Television Drama Series
Nominee: Best Actor In A Leading Role In A Television Drama or Comedy (Geoff Morrell)