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The Age

Soapy land all in a lather

Author: BRIAN COURTIS
Date: 28/11/2003
Words: 445
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: A3
Page: 16
Television preview: Home and Away/Dalziel and Pascoe

Travel advisories and embassy alerts are undoubtedly warning visitors right now to stay clear of Summer Bay, Mount Thomas and Erinsborough. This is not the season to stray through the land of sudsy serials.

There has already been gunplay from the Heelers and at All Saints hospital, as well as emotional overload around Ramsay Street. So, in this climate of docusoap and reality anxieties, where serial writers look nervously over their shoulders at publicity-seeking dingbats on Caribbean islands and hair-scared charmers in hyped-up talent quests, the innocent can expect anything.

Soaps, after all, are where we came in: television's melodrama right down to those shaky, colourful, overlit sets. Basic storytelling: cheap, profitable and our shop window overseas. Where would Australian TV be without them?

Still, Home and Away (7pm, Seven) bows out for its summer break with what seems an almost conventional cliffhanger. There are a few screams, a missing family, some puzzling, a lot of testosterone and adrenaline pumping among the young bucks, the sounds department working overtime, and Alf Stewart getting another chance to dive into his orange SES overalls.

Perhaps Summer Bay is getting a little overcrowded? Perhaps the network sees another way of saving dollars by burying some of the younger clones? At times, their caravan park does look like it's hosting a hairdressers' convention.

Tonight, the Sutherlands spectacularly drop out of sight. Rhys Sutherland (Michael Beckley) and the girls decide to interrupt a celebratory dinner to search for young Max (Sebastian Elmaloglou). They leave the soup to burn (a useful clue to those arriving for any party), and Scott and Seb to murderously threaten Kane.

As the Sutherlands unite at the lower end of an abandoned mine shaft, their visitors up above work out that they're not at a reverse surprise party. ``No note? This is not right. Four people just don't disappear without a trace . . . maybe someone wanted them out of the way?"

Alf's siren is pressed and, while others are distracted with revelations of Tasha's parentage, orange overalls are handed out. The last memorable line I remember from the poor Sutherlands was a plaintive, ``Why do the candles keep going out?"

Andy Dalziel would tell them soon enough. He is in an even fouler mood than normal in Soft Touch, tonight's edition of Dalziel and Pascoe (8.30pm, ABC).

In this, the last of the present first-run dramas, Dalziel, like DI Jane Tennison, is being asked to consider a desk job. As he sees it, hell should freeze over first. It's much more fun giving Peter a bad time while solving a murder with exotic Russian connections.

 
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