Jan 28, 2009

McLeod's Daughters: Transplanting Australian summer into Pittsburgh winter.

McLeod's Daughters
1.1: Welcome Home

This morning it took me thirty minutes to hack the ice off of my car in order to go to work, because in Pittsburgh we don't stop for snow. Or ice, for that matter. Actually, we could put it this way: if the world suddenly fell into an apocalypse, everyone around here would be totally occupied with finding a clear path to work. I grew up in the South, so I keep hoping for a snow day...and they never come. Never. It's most unsatisfying.

Because of the crappy weather, I've decided to start my McLeod's Daughters marathon. It looks warm and inviting in Australia, which is a far cry from the northern half of the United States right now. McLeod's Daughters, for all of us unfamiliar with this series, is about two half-sisters who take over their father's ranch. Many episodes are not exactly primarily horsey, but they will be later, so that justifies my weird obsession with watching all the episodes. Australians seem to categorize this show as a soap opera, which I totally don't because I'm used to American soap operas, and I guess the best word to describe an American soap opera is incomprehensible. For instance:

No, really. Just watch that. And that's just one story arc among several. McLeod's Daughters, by comparison, is a primetime drama to me. Which makes me wonder what primetime drama is to Australians. Maybe it's all soap operas. Any Australian want to help me out here?

Anyway, this episode is pretty cut and dry. It opens up with Claire McLeod assisting her people (I guess they would be called drovers, but I'm definitely not going to use that word ever) in rounding up cattle. It's picturesque and wonderful, although maybe this is just me yearning for green scenery. Meanwhile, back in some nameless city (although it's probably Sydney, because out of like the five big cities Australia has Sydney seems to be the one everyone prefers), Tess McLeod gets a phone call about something that makes her grin and comment on how wealthy she is. It is the comment of someone who was poor about two seconds previous to the phone call. So she giggles and runs off.

Claire et al get the cattle into a holding pen and she proclaims that they will have lunch! And beer! Hooray! Only Tess has to show up while Claire is eating lunch and contemplating her cross word, asking an empty space for help on 16 down or something. It's immediately obvious that Tess and Claire haven't seen each other for a long, long while. Tess hasn't been to the house in twenty years, and her room is now a store room. Claire is put off that Tess is there, because there's lingering animosity over her father's second marriage and Claire's obsession with keeping Drover's Run for herself. Although according to the will, it's half Tess's. Claire proceeds to ignore Tess as best she can for about half the episode.

Then enter Alex and his helicopter. Alex's dad owns a neighboring ranch (can you sense the budding hostility?) and when he meets Tess it is blatantly obvious that they are going to have sex eventually. Be it in the next episode or eight years from now. It's going to happen. Claire is all annoyed yet again and Alex is all, "What? I'm a man, she's a woman." And Claire asks him, "Then what am I?" Apparently no one has ever looked at Claire. I don't really find this surprising.

Tess spends the night, but it takes the housekeeper to invite her. Everyone is uncomfortable. Claire starts crying in private, Tess is freaked out by the gecko that runs unchecked through the house, etc. Tess goes on a walk and accidentally lets the cows out. The next day, the hired hands are ordered to go out to round up the cattle again, otherwise they'll miss the scheduled truck and miss the sale. Because Drover's Run is predictably not exactly financially sound, Claire was depending on the sale. Then one of the hands crashes a farm truck (ute, whatever) into the herd of cattle and goes up into flames.

He miraculously lives, and everyone rides up to survey the damage. Alex goes running by with a fire extinguisher, which, you know, isn't going to do anything to a truck carrying extra gallons of fuel in the bed. But he sprints over there while Meg (housekeeper) tends to the injured guy's broken collar bone with a breezy scarf. Claire shoots a cow in the head and Tess reveals that she saw the hired hands taking the fuel after Claire discovers most of it missing, so Claire fires pretty much everyone and decides to work the ranch by herself.

Alex's dad has a hurrah! moment, because he is predictably evil. No lone woman can work a ranch by herself! Or possibly, like, hire new people to work for her or anything. Only they do not suspect that Meg, her daughter, the random delivery girl who is probably a slut, and Tess will volunteer to help Claire out.

The girls get on their horses, don their Australian trench coats (they probably have a name, but I'm not interested in finding it out right now) and cute hats, and gallop abreast into the green scenery.

A quiet episode. The background is, of course, gorgeous. I will watch more posthaste, because it's going to snow tonight, and I need more green scenery to offset the huge amount of awful that is more snow. I also have a ton of books coming my way from the library and Amazon (I'm serious about this...I don't know what I was thinking) and first on my list is Jessica Burkhart's Take the Reins. It's actually in my purse, because if I run off the road on my way home from work I'll have something to amuse me while I'm waiting for the tow truck.


Kerry said...

I have heard of this before, but I have yet to actually have the time to watch it. It sounds pretty interesting. I don't get why it's categorized as a soap opera, although that may be because I am used to novellas and American soaps (which I hate to admit that I have actually spent time watching...). Nevertheless, it does sound interesting! I eagerly await future reviews!

Oh, and I feel your pain about the weather. I used to live in Boston, and I now reside in central PA. The snow is evil, abet very beautiful on the mountains...I've been taking pictures at random points in the day.

Anonymous said...

I'm Australian!
And I can confirm: primetime drama for us is television from the USA. McLeod's Daughters, like all Australian-made shows, is regarded with some embarrassment and very few people I know will own up to watching it. Why? Who knows. Cultural cringe, I guess.
Oh, also - the 'trench coats' and 'cute hats' are both iconic items of Australian clothing known by their brand-names: Drizabones (coats) and Akubras (hats).

Anonymous said...

Stay with the show. You will be hooked. I just finished Season 6. Even my hubby, mister anti "drama series" enjoys it sometimes. The actors look like real people not hollywood glamazons.

Mara said...

primetime drama for us is television from the USA. McLeod's Daughters, like all Australian-made shows, is regarded with some embarrassment and very few people I know will own up to watching it. Why? Who knows. Cultural cringe, I guess.

I find that fascinating. And here Americans worry over the quality of the tv they produce and are accused of taking everyone else's ideas.

Stay with the show. You will be hooked.

I intend to!

Lillie said...

I don't know where you got that McLeod's Daughters was a soapie, but it is definitely a drama. It was always shown at nighttime alongside other primetime dramas, not during the daylight hours which are reserved for soaps. I've always called it a drama (yes I am Australian) and so does IMDb. And IMDb is God.

Also Anonymous, I don't know why you are so embarrassed by it. I loved it, so did my family and my friends at school etc. It was a great show. Well until the later seasons when the daughters left and they had to make up tenuous and unbelievable connections to keep the title accurate.

Lillie said...

Also, it probably was Sydney, undoubtedly because the producers wanted the show to do well outside of Aus and everyone knows that Americans seem to think that Sydney is the only city in Australia (I apologise for generalising, but for the most part it is true). And yes, I am a tad bitter about this. I'm from Brisbane, the far superior capital of Queensland. Unlike Sydney, where you might get stabbed or shot at any moment, Brisbane is actually nice.