Weddings, parties and ratings, please.
Television critics cling to three curious truths. The first is that
everything, ultimately, is compared to Number 96: nudity, serial killers,
provocative storylines, neighbourly disputes, even kinky boyfriends snipping
one's knickers (or, better yet, strangling one's flatmate with undies) ... if
someone's doing it, you can be sure 96 did it better.
The second is that all programming decisions made by the Nine Network are
part of a sinister plot to undermine quality television, the passion of TV
critics and fans of The Sopranos. Nine, apparently, is the only television
network in the world that doesn't want you to watch television. Go figure that
The third, and most important, truth is that everybody loves a TV wedding.
The tears. The joy. The jubilation. The ratings. You love it, we love it, the
cast of Number 96 loves it, programmers love it (except those at Nine, see
above) and the photo editor of TV Week definitely loves it.
When Scott and Charlene exchanged their "I Dos" on Neighbours, there wasn't a
dry hanky in the house. Excusing the fact that most of us were weeping because
they were playing that dreadful Angry Anderson song, it was nonetheless a moving
A Country Practice's Simon and Vicky tied the knot. He was the cheeky-grinned
country doctor with the good nature, she the tomboy country vet with the
big-mouthed mum. Together they had sitcom written all over them, which was a
shame because they were stuck in a weekly drama. In fact, things were not quite
the same after the wedding, and Simon and Vicky became early Australian examples
of Moonlighting Syndrome, another TV version of "burst UrST" (unresolved sexual
The tradition dates back to - and we're showing our age here - the 1970s
wedding of Tony and Tania on The Young Doctors. He was the Latin doctor with a
She was the doe-eyed nurse (and later, sister) with a thermometer of gold. TV
Week took the official wedding portraits.
It was a wedding like no other. He wore polyester. She wore something old,
something new, something borrowed and something blue - which, interestingly, is
a mantra that would shape commercial TV programming for decades.
The point of all this - and there is one - is that last week, this rich
tradition continued when the amply-bosomed Sally (Kate Ritchie) and her beau Dr
Flynn (Joel McIlroy) tied the knot on Home and Away (weeknights, Seven).
As episodes go, it was rather like deja vu. Pippa (Debra Lawrance) turned up,
as did Donald (Norman Coburn), which made me think Seven had mistakenly
screened an old episode as I was fairly sure both of them had come to a sticky
end courtesy of the show's inventive writing department. (Come on, this is the
show that had the ghost of Ailsa emerge from a refrigerator!)
I immediately telephoned Seven to point out this obvious technical glitch,
but was gently reassured by the switchboard operator that Pippa had not been
washed away in the great flood of '95, as I had assumed.
I was told that she survived - her husband at the time, Michael, apparently
did not - and went on to live a healthy and purposeful life, raising foster
children and making calls on the diner's hamburger telephone for many years.
Donald, meanwhile, had not been killed when the stationery closet at Summer
Bay High imploded because of poorly mixed Liquid Paper thinner. He apparently
survived with only minor bruises, went on to put a generation of Australians on
detention and eventually moved to the Whitsundays.
Meanwhile, another blast from the past, Sophie (Rebekah Elmaloglou) spent the
wedding in her hospital bed, having come all the way from Perth to be a
bridesmaid, only to go into labour. Babies and soap operas, eh, what can you do?
Sally and Leah (Ada Nicodemou) headed to the wedding on Tuesday night in a
horsedrawn carriage, which seemed charming except that it looked as if it was
filmed outside the local tip. Summer Bay might boast nice beaches, but the
hinterland is screaming out for redevelopment. Or, at the very least, gutters.
In a Kath-and-Kim-esque twist, however, their carriage was scared by some
local hoons. The horse charged, dumped its pilot and left Sally and Leah
for dear life.
Of course, love always finds a way. Even if the bride has to trudge through a
bog in her wedding dress, find a farmer and plead with him to deliver her, with
bridesmaid in tow, to the wedding on the back of his ute, leaving the groom
convinced she's left him at the altar to run away with Larry, the stationery
supply man. (Yeah, like she'd trust him after that mix-up with the thinner.)
In the end, the wedding was a washout, thanks to Dr Flynn: the deed was
finally done, somewhere between casualty and renal, with the bride and groom
clad in bathrobes and the bed-bound Sophie wheeled in to witness proceedings.
You can be sure of one thing: Sally and Flynn will live happily ever after.
At least until next week ...
Ain't true love grand?