SeaChange: articles

Sundays will not be the same

“Pass us another pappadum, would ya, love?” With that, Kev, Trev and Phrani gazed wistfully out over the ocean that has lapped at Pearl Bay for three years and 39 episodes, and were gone.

If you were not among the about two million people the ABC hoped would settle in front of the television at 7.30 last night to watch the final hour of SeaChange, but have recorded it, look away now.

If you were, then indulge yourself and relive the final image. A week after abandoning the excruciatingly sensible Warwick, and finding a smelly fish carcase in his place, Laura sat on the end of the pier enveloped in the arms of Max Connors. The writers gave us a wedding, an unexpected pregnancy, a near-death experience and an apocalyptic wave. But finally, the devoted, ever-growing army of SeaChange viewers might have exhaled collectively — Laura Gibson had found her man.

Warwick's mother could call her what she liked — ”the most reprehensible, immoral, uncaring, disgusting individual she'd ever set eyes on”, in fact — but millions of Australians had fallen for Sigrid Thornton's Laura and the eclectic ensemble of characters, from Diver Dan to the rugged journalist Max, to Heather and Bob Jelly, to Angus and Karen, who surrounded her in Pearl Bay.

“I think the statistics say it is the most successful drama that the ABC has ever had, and I think it's probably one of the most successful dramas Australia's ever had,” said Steve Vizard, chairman of Red Heart (formerly Artist Services), which makes SeaChange, as he prepared himself for life without the series.

“I enjoy watching this show and I still watch it because there's a warmth about it, even the guest actors, people like Shaun Micallef (Warwick) and Mark Mitchell (who played the evil businessman Morton Tregonning) … diverse people in different roles who have all kept that warmth about it.

“It's extremely well written (by Andrew Knight and Deb Cox) and extremely well acted.”

Even David Wenham's exit from the show after the first series, as Diver Dan slung a swag over his shoulder and left Laura and Pearl Bay, did not affect the popularity of the series. In fact, an ABC spokeswoman said, the show became more popular.

The audience peaked on a Sunday in August last year, when 2,174,000 people tuned in, a measure of the yearning among ordinary overworked people, commentators surmised, to follow Laura and her kids, Rupert and Miranda, to the sea.

We will find out today whether that figure was topped as Australians gathered to watch the last episode and say goodbye … for now.

Mr Vizard knows the end of SeaChange will leave a gaping hole in Sunday night.

“I think any show, like a good novel or a good film, you always want more and you always feel slightly robbed when it's over,” he said.

“The trick is to know when enough is enough. Equally, if you do too much and you kill it, you end up feeling even worse.”

Mr Vizard said there could be room for another series, for Cox and Knight had no shortage of ideas. In the meantime, the writers will take a break.

“They have their own ideas about what they want to do,” Mr Vizard said.

And so we leave Pearl Bay, Morton Tregonning brought literally to his knees by a great welling up of the ocean that busted his tunnel apart, Meredith resurrected after everything the tunnel symbolised nearly killed her, and Kev and Trev knowing that disaster had been avoided and a peculiar kind of Pearl Bay order had been restored.

By Chloe Saltau
December 11, 2000
The Age