Something Rich And Strange
Successful city lawyer Laura Gibson thinks she has it all. With Jack, her handsome husband, their two lovely kids, Rupert and Miranda, and her brilliant legal career. Until in the space of 24 hours, it all falls apart.
Laura's law firm offers the coveted partnership to someone else. Rupert is expelled from school. Jack is charged with corporate fraud, and in the process has lost the family savings. But worse — he's having an affair… with her sister!
Something has to change. An old friend jokingly suggests she take up a vacancy as a country magistrate — in Pearl Bay. The tiny coastal backwater where she had enjoyed a perfect family holiday ten years before.
Laura's decision is as swift as it is unexpected. With two confused kids and no husband, Laura races to Pearl Bay. But a decade is a long time, even in a small town. The little cottage she bought, sight unseen, on the strength of her memory is now surrounded by a caravan park. Then there is the response she gets from her first encounter with laconic Diver Dan.
Guest Cast: Luke Bexley as Young Rupert, Tarah Burns as Young Miranda, Leanne Cherny as Jess, Fiona Corke as Trudi Dawson, Kate Denborough as Law Firm Receptionist, Christine Earle as Glenda, Paul English as Jack Gibson, Peter Farago as Gavin, John Higginson as Simon, Bruce Myles as Tony Carstairs, Wilhelmina Stracke as Vet, Dalys Timparnaro as Vet Nurse, Jazmin Westrup as Bob Jelly's Secretary
Full Fathom Five
Laura's first days in Pearl Bay are a far cry from the life left behind in the city. It is a beautiful place — although Miranda and Rupert are not convinced. They do not share their mother's romantic vision of a home without television, long family walks together and meaningful discussions over home-cooked dinners. A "casual" lunch at the Jelly house does nothing to quell their fears.
While Rupert contends with Craig Jelly and his endless summer of surf, and Miranda listens to Jules's endless prattle about herself, Laura realises just how much power Bob Jelly wields in Pearl Bay. Power which obviously still extends to the previous magistrate, Harold Fitzwalter. Harold's futile attempt to get back at Bob lands him in court as Laura's first case.
As the new magistrate, Laura flounders. Her corporate law experience has left her ill-equipped to deal with the idiosyncrasies of Pearl Bay's residents. Police prosecutor Karen Miller is more interested in bridal magazines and luring her erstwhile boyfriend, Angus, down the aisle. Angus, also Laura's law clerk, is more interested in the surf report, and schedules the court accordingly.
Laura is most intrigued by Diver Dan, whose scruffy appearance and dry repartee reveal little. By day he runs a ramshackle ferry and boat hire out of a boatshed-cum-café on the pier. However, on rare occasions, he can be found at the local pub, the Tropical Star, treating the locals to his mouth-watering gourmet creations. From a distance, Dan watches Laura carefully, appraising her as she adjusts big-smoke attitude to Pearl Bay amble.
Guest Cast: Jim Alexander as Defendant #2, Fred Anderson as Defendant #1, Dawn Klingberg as Mrs. Cynthia Fitzwalter, Jez Olivero as Defendant #3, Grant Piro as Bryce Reardon, Wayne Stevens as Defendant #4, Jazmin Westrup as Bob Jelly's Secretary.
A Matter of Taste
Meredith's niece, Carmen, breezes into Pearl Bay. She is a free spirit who is quick to tell her aunt not only that she is pregnant but also facing criminal charges for obtaining goods by deception after dining gratis in restaurants in exchange for the promise of reviews. The chefs involved arrive in town and their patronising views on Pearl Bay's provincial culinary standards are lost on no-one.
In her efforts to be the mother of her planned "new life", Laura takes cooking lessons from Dan, but her first attempt to impress the family is thwarted when the family cat, assumed dead and buried, makes an unexpected return.
Miranda, inspired by Carmen's broad-minded and freethinking philosophy, resolves to return to the city and her father. She leaves school to work in Diver's café as a means of financing herself. Laura is dismayed at her daughter's refusal to listen to her and confides in Dan. Desperate for Miranda to understand her, Laura lets slip a painful truth.
Guest Cast: Fredique Fouche as Ms Voumard, Greg Saunders as Raoul, Arthur Serevetas as Wayne Seddons, Peter Stefanou as Charlie, Ken Weaver as Les Seddons
The Official Story
Sergeant Grey is suspicious of one of Pearl Bay's most admired residents, Matthew Reilly, who founded and mysteriously funds a youth training farm for the long-term unemployed. Despite his zeal, the only thing that Grey can pin on his suspect is a conviction for driving without a licence. When the court visits the youth training farm, Laura is impressed with both the quality of the program and Matthew's sincerity. But who is Reilly and why is everyone in Pearl Bay so keen to "guide" her judgement?
Laura's role as administrator of the law is further challenged with the arrival of her husband, Jack, who has breached his bail conditions, to visit Rupert for his 12th birthday. While trying to keep him hidden from the town, Laura must also deal with feelings generated by his return — both in her children and herself. What she underestimates is the power of Pearl Bay's locals to deal with these matters in their own particular way.
Bob Jelly dreams of being a senator and cultivates contacts in the "Here and Now" party. When Bob tries to use Matthew's farm for his own self-promotion, things go disastrously awry. When it comes to the local pool competition, Bob is on much firmer ground — he and Craig will win… as always. That is, if they can overcome the newcomers, Laura and Rupert. The stakes are high, and promise Laura a hitherto unseen side of the residents of Pearl Bay.
Guest Cast: Paul English as Jack Gibson, David Bergin as Lyons, Christopher Christo as Constable Kelly, Lindsay Crawford as Real Matthew Reilly, Jane Cunningham as Announcer (v/o), Chris Doyle as Finnane, Matthew Green as Lionel Guthrie, Clare Howell as Eileen, Lachlan McDonald as Announcer (v/o), Tony Nikolakopoulos as Rodney, Greg Stone as Matthew Reilly, Ken Weaver as Les Seddons
The Fellowship of the Suit
Several years ago Diver Dan, Angus and a few other locals formed a syndicate to share the cost of an Armani suit which they could use for those times when a suit is called for. All has worked well until Laura's sister, Trudi, arrives in town.
Dan and Meredith watch on as old friendships are tested by the impossibly tight time-tabling arrangements made by syndicate members as they scramble to impress the new girl in town.
Trudi visits Pearl Bay to heal the rift between herself and Laura — caused by her affair with Jack. Laura cannot forgive Trudi but she is forced to feign happiness during her visit to discourage Pearl Bay's ubiquitous gossip. Once alone, however, Laura upbraids her sister who ultimately shows her true colours.
At the same time, Laura confirms long-standing suspicions about what is going on in Sergeant Grey's household, after his daughter is arrested.
Guest Cast: Fiona Corke as Trudi, Francis Greenslade as Simmo, Rebekah Jay as Megan Grey, Grant Piro as Bryce Reardon, Brett Swain as Griff, Rhonda Wilson as Stella Grey
One of the Gang
A big night out on the town results in a car being driven off Pearl Bay's condemned bridge. Several of the locals are under suspicion but when Sergeant Grey finally discovers that it was Reg — the popular garbage collector, who has recently been pulled up on his third drink-driving offence — Laura finds herself in one of the greatest dilemmas she's faced since arriving in Pearl Bay.
When Laura is the only person not invited to Bob and Heather's annual anniversary bash, she decides to conform. She dresses like a local, joins Heather's "reading" group and even seeks advice from Diver Dan. Miranda makes her own bid for acceptance — by sunbathing nude.
Bob is feeling the pressure of being the "big man" in the town. Not only is he called upon to help Reg, but he's in financial trouble and has to move deftly to save himself and his plans for the future of Pearl Bay.
Guest Cast: Francis Greenslade as Simmo, Costas Kilias as Dave, Ken Radley as Sid, Helen Rollinson as Joy, Brett Swain as Griff, Bill Young as Reg
Just when Laura, in her own mind, has decided it could be time to take things with Diver Dan a step further, the arrival in town of his ex-wife comes as a real blow.
Dorothy is sassy, beautiful, and she has an inspiring physique. She has returned to Pearl Bay to sue Bob Jelly whose indiscretion has ruined Dorothy's employment prospects in Port Deakin, the nearby boomtown. Laura contends not only with an unusual case but also her growing sense of competition with Dorothy.
It almost looks as though Dorothy is going to be forced to reveal something she knows will ruin not only her own reputation but Dan's also. A kangaroo court develops in the Tropical Star, and the locals find a typical Pearl Bay resolution, saving Diver the embarrassment but still hitting Bob where it hurts — the wallet.
Guest Cast: Arianna Bosi as Linda, Zachary Brown as Elvis, Melissa Eccelston as Secretary, Belinda McClory as Dorothy Della Bosco, Matthew Norman as Justin Wilkins, Grant Piro as Bryce Reardon
Note: this episode was nominated for a 1998 AFI Award in the category "Best Episode in a Television Drama Series"
My Own Sweetheart
Laura becomes increasingly convinced that she is living alone in a world made for couples. Even her own children suggest she should get out more. The arrival of an invitation to the annual magistrates' dinner-dance spurs her to bite the bullet and invite Dan. He is reluctant and circumvents the dilemma in his own way — by planning to get himself sentenced to jail for outstanding fines that he has accrued. Laura is furious, but exacts her revenge.
Instead of jail, Dan is sentenced to 100 hours of community service — doing paper work in her office. Dan's community service is a revelation to Laura. Beneath Diver's scruffy exterior lies an ordered, if not obsessively neat, being, who refuses to admit what becomes increasingly obvious.
Meanwhile, Karen's parents, Vin and Verna, have spent the previous three years touring Australia. Karen is thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce them to her prospective fiancé, Angus, and exhorts him to behave appropriately. Angus becomes increasingly nervous as he hears from Diver just how strait-laced Karen's parents are.
Vin, has decided to free himself of the guilt of an old crime and confesses to an incredulous Sergeant Grey. Harold, too, decides his best chance of giving up the drink is to spend as much time as possible in the lock-up. Laura is left to contemplate this town where the men seem to spend more time trying to get into jail than out of it.
Guest Cast: Bill Hunter as Vin Miller, Denzil Howson as Magistrate, Bruce Hughes as TV Presenter [Bruce], Sue Jones as Verna Miller, Brett Swain as Griff, Louise Talmadge as Deborah Freiberg
Balls and Friggin' Goodluck
Pearl Bay is devastated when one of its teenagers dies in a car accident. Recent winner of the football team's Best and Fairest, Jerome Hall was a hero to the younger kids of Pearl Bay and the apple of his father's eye.
Laura presides over her first coronial inquest as Jerome's family and friends recount their last hours with the boy. After Jerome's accident, Rupert withdraws and refuses to open up to Laura who mentions her frustration to Diver Dan. Bearing in mind what he learnt from his own father, Dan takes Rupert under his wing and endeavors to teach him what it means to be a man — with disastrous results. Laura is furious and rebukes Dan for his insensitivity.
As Angus and Dan remember their fathers, Yido, a young Japanese businessman whose father's business is being wooed by Bob, reveals something of his own relationship with his father. Yido's stay in Pearl Bay does allows him to unburden himself of the pressures he feels. At Heather's insistence, Bob has a heart-to-heart with Craig.
The locals recoil as Dan goes on a bender, and, rescued by Meredith, he wakes the next morning with a certain remorse. Without telling Laura, he takes Rupert on a secret night time adventure and gently draws out what has been troubling him.
Guest Cast: Bill Binks as Ted Hall, Heath Campbell-McLean as Brad, Bianca Griffin as Natalie, Kick Gurry as Jerome Hall, Sharon Kershaw as Margaret Hall, Sam Oliver as Steve Hall, Kylie Psaila as Becky, Warwick Sadler as Driving double, Masa Yamaguchi as Yido
The Accidental Activist
Laura is introduced to the magic of Brabey Point — a local "parking" spot where, according to Carmen, a strong tantric nexus is formed between lines of male and female energies… in other words, a place where lots of sexual energy is generated.
When an old crony of Bob's proposes a housing development there, local opposition is rife. Craig emerges as an unlikely hero when he accidentally gets entangled in a protest action after surfing at Brabey Point. While Bob is irate, Miranda is impressed. Craig comes to enjoy Miranda's newfound regard for him and, for the first time, questions the world around him.
Heather tries to understand her son but Bob is more concerned with clearing Craig's name, regaining control of his family and pushing the development through council.
Laura is unsure if the opposition is based on genuine environmental concern or local myth. Karen is utterly convinced and even Rupert is acting strangely. But when Dan is wary of going there, Laura's interest mounts. It seems even Dan is not immune from that ol' Brabey Point magic.
Guest Cast: Robyn Betts as Jean, Geoff Brooks as Ken, Christopher Christo as Police Officer, Rebekah Cripps as Kylie, Michael Delaney as Weed, Bianca Griffin as Natalie, Luke Redfern as Rob, Fred Whitlock as Mac
Love Me or Leave Me
Instead of the usual musical extravaganza, this year's Pearl Bay Thespians production is a play written by Harold and directed by Meredith. Heather, after many years in the wings, is cast as the leading lady opposite visiting professional Barry Boston. Barry is an old flame of Heather's and as the rehearsals proceed that flame is gradually reignited. Fire ignites in Bob's belly as he recognises that art often imitates life.
Laura, keen to maintain her own dignity, refuses to participate in the play in the face of Meredith's badgering until Dan suggests a sure-fire plan to evade participation without offending anyone.
Old friends of Dan's, Maggie and Ray, are in town and an unfortunate incident leaves Ray charged with assault. Dan stands by his friend until he discovers the unhappy truth about the assault and Maggie and Ray's domestic situation. For Dan, this brings up painful memories and unfinished business from his past.
While Harold's play pays tribute to the law, Laura and Dan come into conflict over the law's inability to discover the truth and achieve justice.
Guest Cast: Jeremy Callaghan as Ray, David Cotter as Carl, Matthew Green as Lionel, Robert Grubb as Barry, Trent Harrison as Dean, Trudy Hellier as Maggie, Brett Swain as Griff
Perchance to Dream
Miranda and Rupert convince Laura to return to the city to support Jack, whose fraud trial is finally being heard. Old feelings reawaken in all the Gibsons, exacerbated when Laura is offered a tempting job by her old law firm. As Laura is forced to contemplate her future, Prahni has been trying to foretell it as part a fortune-telling tax package.
When Prahni predicts that Heather will have to completely rebuild her life and make decisions about a love affair, this gives Heather just the encouragement she needs to fulfil her secret longings and branch out on her own. Bob is deeply disturbed by Heather's odd behavior, but when he cottons on to the fortune-telling, he chooses to blame Prahni — having her charged with the archaic crime of "foretelling the future for profit".
Kevin also finds himself in need of Prahni's subtle mix of prophecy and psychotherapy when his de facto wife, Lucy, is released from prison and returns to Pearl Bay. Although she feels guilty for the poor mothering she gave Trevor and tries to go along with Kevin's dream to sail the "Lucy Goosey" away to a tropical island, Lucy just isn't ready for life as a full-time wife and mother in a twenty foot caravan.
While Laura is away, the town miss her and all her idiosyncrasies. She returns to a welcome so warm that it helps her make up her mind about whether to stay in this small town or head back to the "real world".
Guest Cast: Paul English as Jack Gibson, Wayne Comley as Patrol Station Manager, Suzi Dougherty as Lucy, Matthew Green as Lionel, Bruce Myles as Tony Carstairs, Brett Swain as Griff
Sex, Death and Bridges
Pearl Bay is going to change forever. The bridge work is completed and Bob's dream to open Pearl Bay to the outside world is about to be realised.
It is a time of change for all. Laura hears the committal hearing of an elderly man charged with attempting to murder his terminally ill wife. Carmen's baby is due to arrive. The impending arrival has spurred Meredith and Harold to seek out their lost love child and their relationship becomes more intimate when Meredith suggests they do more than just hold hands. Harold's not sure: his doctor has warned him that his heart may not withstand strenuous exertion.
Laura and Dan also decide it is time to stop beating around the bush. They are obviously attracted to each other. But, by the time the carefully stage-managed event finally takes place… Heather, too, makes a decision with huge ramifications for the Jellys, especially Bob.
Will Meredith and Harold find their daughter? How will Kevin and Trevor survive in their ship? Wind blows, thunder sounds, a storm brews… something is amiss.
Guest Cast: Paul English as Jack Gibson, John Flaus as Alf, Robert Grubb as Barry, Paul Karo as Dr. Ashcombe, Joan Murray as Katherine, Brett Swain as Griff
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