Mcleod's Daughters: articles

McLeod's Daughters

McLeod's Daughters has now twice-removed its narrative credibility into the nearest dam.

Longevity can be a curse for long-running dramas. Writers create characters, audiences fall for them, series mount and just when everyone knows where they are - Bam! - the lead actors scent new opportunities or get all funny about typecasting and want out.

In a profession-based drama, the departure of a main character shakes things up, but it is pretty easy to draft in a new doctor, cop, lawyer. Family sagas struggle; there are only so many stepsiblings, old friends and estranged family members you can dream up without looking silly. (Note to self: work up TV pitch for "polygamous family drama".)

McLeod's Daughters' twist just compounds its dilemma: hey, let's make the McLeods all women and the Ryans on the adjoining Killarney spread all men, they said. It's great for romance, but by this seventh season, McLeod's Daughters has twice-removed its narrative credibility into the nearest dam.

It does it again tonight with Abi Tucker's Grace deciding she might just stick around at Drovers Run. Who'd have guessed? Grace is the estranged little sister of Regan (Zoe Naylor), who is the daughter of the estranged little brother of late McLeod patriarch Jack.

Tucker is an engaging addition to the attractive ensemble while her character proves more than a match for the property's feisty femmes. Grace has only agreed to a visit but her arrival brings rustlers into the fold (ram raiders in the literal sense). We know they're bad sorts: they're ignoble enough to remark on the beauty of the local "gals" with "Jeez, the chicks are hot 'round here". Swine. Efforts to retrieve the sheep and catch the thieves, via a bit of Man From Snowy River horsecraft, hook Grace; or was it hunky Marcus over at Killarney (Matt Passmore) who, by the way, was recently unmasked as Alex Ryan's secret brother.

Elsewhere, the revolving door that saw Tucker in is about to eject another, while Moira (Doris Younane) finds herself drawn to Phil (Peter Hardy) even though he's a Rakich (boo!) and a devotee of Arthurian blockbusters (boo hiss!). And so it limps on, beautiful scenery, beautiful people enacting increasingly implausible plots. This one is clumsily tied to the Camelot legend, with a drum and pipe accompaniment and a nod to Excalibur.

Add this to Jodi's recent brush with the supernatural and a bit of TV synergy suggests itself. Another long-running sister act came to a close in Australia this week. Ten aired the final episode of Charmed on Thursday in a rather non-magical midday slot it was keeping warm for Dr Phil during the school holidays. Come on, Nine, if ghosts are welcome at Drovers, why not the witches three? Kit them out in low-riders and midriff-baring flannies and explain them away as a McLeod offshoot from America looking for a new start. They have a strong sense of family and duty and their talents include a way with love potions.

The Killarney boys won't know what hit them.

By Annmaree Bellman
May 1, 2007
The Age