It seemed for a while that there could be no life in Pearl Bay without Diver Dan. But when David Wenham stepped out of the second series of this deservedly popular ABC television series, it just rolled on without him.
Sigrid Thornton is the 'star' of SeaChange. But the strength of this series was the care invested in the development of all the other characters of this fantasy seaside town. And while no partner - or potential partner - for Thornton's character Laura ever really seemed credible, there were plenty of other characters to step into the breach.
Chief among these was our town's beloved Mayor, the genial, altruistic Bob Jelly, played by John Howard. Bob and his wife Heather have been having a bit of a rough time in their sex-life. She's been shocked by finding who her real parents were and he's being tempted by a woman who wants to set up a Community Bank in Pearl Bay to fleece the community. On the surface our financial temtpress Katrina seems willing to share the proceeds with him, and give him anything else he desires as well.
And our young police constable Karen is having problems with her fiancee Angus, the surfer/court official. He's developing wanderlust... the surf is disappearing from Pearl Bay and he may just have to go as well. She had sex with him once only before their intended marriage, and vowed that would be it 'til their wedding night - should she use her body to keep him in Pearl Bay? It's a huge dilemma, she is, after all, a strangely old-fashioned girl.
Ah, torments, crises and heartache. A potential boyfriend, Max, has arrived on the scene for Laura, and most conveniently, the woman closest to him arrives on the scene just in time to die.
It's all very soap-opera land, but the deft direction, witty writing and great acting from Sigrid, John Howard, Kerry Armstrong and all around them lift the series up quite a few notches.
I think the first series was probably the strongest, but devotees will not see much of a fall-off in these first six episodes of the 13-episode second set. The only ones who will really grieve will be those who had let themselves become fixated on the strange presence of David Wenham's Diver Dan.
The full screen presentation is clear, with a fine artefact-free image and with higher-than-broadcast quality standards. Colours are fresh and natural, without any sense of over-saturation, while contrast levels are excellent.
The only demurrer I have is the question of why, with an eye to future life, wasn't this series filmed in widescreen? That would have allowed for anamorphic DVD release along the track in optimal quality, as well as enhancing future repeat broadcast prospects. I guess it all comes down to budget - but this series is one which shouldn't have been shackled by budget. Certainly not the second series, when everyone knew the ABC had a winner.
Choose rental or purchase depending on how much you enjoy the series - it's certainly worth revisiting once more.
The ABC packaged the complete first series of SeaChange together in a digipak fold-out box-set. This time around they've put out Season Two in two separate double-disc sets, which makes it a far more palatable option for the rental market - though it's a shame the smart packaging for the first series wasn't maintained.