[Opening lines of the series, A Policeman is chasing a Young Frank in 1978]
Frankie, Frankie, Frankie.
[hides behind corner and eventually catches Frank]
Frankie. What's your mum going to say?
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As the pilot for an ongoing series, this is surprisingly self-contained, almost working as a movie of the week.Practically the only thing unresolved is the subplot about Floss' prediction, which feels largely shoehorned in.
Which isn't to say it isn't good.There's some nice get-to-know-you dialogue from the main characters, although Tom has a couple of blatant infodumps with regards the kids' backgrounds.Frank, Steven and Carly all have a chance to establish their personalities, although Frank and Steven spend a bit too much of their time on an antagonism which didn't carry through to the series.Lynn gets fewer chances to shine but has already demonstrated a talent for winding Carly up.Sally is the cute kid and has some nice moments.
The main focus is on Bobby and her journey from rebellious town outcast to happy member of the Fletchers is the sort of storyline that would later be played out over several weeks.Here it feels a bit rushed although it's easy to see how Pippa's kind-heartedness would affect her. Future Summer Bay legends Alf, Ailsa and Donald flit in and out of the episode.Donald works better in the first third, where he's abrasive but not unsympathetic, than in the last half where he's portrayed as an out and out villain, although seeing him covered in mud is a decent pay off.There are some oddities with regards later episodes:There's no mention of Don being a teacher and Alf seems to be a fireman at this point.
The pilot has trouble justifying its running time, with the last third of Pearce threatening to take the kids away, a pointless ruse from Ailsa and Neville and Bobby solving everything with a petulant speech feeling like a rather false way of generating drama.But there's a lot to admire here and it's the beginning of a long road.
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