Don Spencer, marketing expert who specialised in mustard, is retrenched from his job during the recession we had to have. He and his wife, Sandy, decide for a tree change so buy a country pub and leave the city behind them for a better life in the bush. Along with their teenage daughter, Melissa, (played to perfection by Belinda Cotterill) they make their new home in the old Federation style hotel.
The plot is a classic fish out of water story. Despite their education and city smarts they simply do not understand what is going on most of the time. They always seem to be a couple of steps behind.
But, like all good TV, it's the well fleshed out characters that bring this series to life. There's Thel, the mature barmaid and previous owner of the pub, assisted by Maureen the nervous and dowdy young waitress. Pat the poet sits in the corner dispensing his wisdom because "Pat know things". Clancy the drover, legend of the lost herd - he's still looking for them - and his dog, Skip who does the exact opposite of what Clancy tells her. There are two barflies called Bob who don't seem to do anything but tell the young farmhand, Jeremy, to pull his head in whenever he comes up with a half decent suggestion.
But my favourite character would have to be Kevin the "Chinese" cook. His main claim to fame is that he's Chinese and Chinese people "know stuff about cooking". Steaks can only be cooked to charcoal and all salads have to have cubes of cheddar cheese in them. He has a wonderful running gag about his people but when quizzed further his people are never who you think they are. For example in one episode he's thrown in jail and insists on serving time to save face because that's very important to his people. "Chinese?" "No, Anglican."
This is the sort of humour that runs thru the entire series and it never gets tiring. Whenever the viewer, along with Don and Sandy, think they know what's going on, bush logic defeats them every time.
It's a series that wouldn't make sense to any person who had not spent some time in a small country town in Australia. You would have met all the characters and been in similar situations as our lead characters.
Over The Hill is one of those charming series, beautifully shot, lovely soundtrack and wonderful writing that captured the stereotype rural Australia in a heartwarming and genuinely funny way.
I can understand why it didn't do well - the target audience is just too small. But if you're lucky enough to be the target, you'll love it. About a dozen episodes, only shown once as a summer filler and never release on tape or DVD.
This series deserves better.
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