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Centres around Dave and Julie Rafter and their three children Rachel, Ben and Nathan. On the eve of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary the couple thinks that they are finally about to ... See full summary »
If you look at the premise of this series - one more examination of the daily lives of a bunch of suburban characters, most of them somehow related, chronicling their triumphs and disappointments - one could be forgiven for thinking that it's just another soap. After all, the line between upmarket soap opera and quality drama can be confusingly thin at times.
For mine, this definitely falls into the latter category. It's true that the story lines fall into the usual run of spousal tensions, generational issues, affairs, blended families and how the kids are affected, with associated logistical problems. But then, that's life, innit? You don't need to be in a train-wreck to have at least one phase of your life that resembles one.
The trick in making such well-worn stories worth watching anew is in providing moments of genuine drama, with authentic emotional reactions and dialogue that rings true for each character, with sufficient nuance to let us feel that we are they, and we know exactly what they're going through. Yes, perhaps some of the situations here are a bit familiar and obvious, but at least they don't all say the bleedin' obvious.
In the end, the main differentiator between the two genres is a well-wrought script coupled with an ensemble cast that's capable of doing justice to it. Not to mention having the restraint to avoid a closing shot of a character staring into the middle distance with the expression of a stunned mullet. And resisting the temptation to include an explosion or inferno to ramp up the stakes a bit.
On that basis, this is a fine effort. Good, thoughtful scripts, and excellent performances all round.
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