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McLeod's Daughters (Vision, 9 p.m.) is the sort of TV series in which some viewers take refuge. A lovely melodrama from Australia, it's the kind of show that viewers find and stick with because it isn't formulaic or fast-paced and it's set in an exotic locale. There are several continuing dramas that fall into this category — SeaChange, Monarch of the Glen — and they appeal to people who want relief from the violence, profanity and the freakish behaviour on American prime-time shows.

The show is a contemporary outback drama with strong female characters front and centre. Claire McLeod (Lisa Chappell) is running the farm since her father died. She's tough and up to the job, but the business is struggling. Along comes Tess (Bridie Carter), who is another McLeod daughter from another marriage. She wants her inheritance and, if that means selling the farm, then so be it. Tess is a slick, big-city girl, you see. Of course, Tess sticks around.

There are several other important female characters and there seems to be an ever-changing group of handsome guys working on the farm who can light romantic sparks. There are cute animals and the photography is lovely. McLeod's Daughters is a high-grade soap opera, but the main characters aren't narcissists or idiots. Compared with much of what happens on prime-time American TV, this show is subtle and soothing.

By John Doyle
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
The Globe and Mail (Canada)